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Elmont group: Study impacts of Belmont Stakes race traffic

Group opposed to Belmont Park development says a study during Saturday’s race would provide a sense of what it would be like to have 200 events a year.

Community organizer Tammie Williams, center, and other demonstrators

Community organizer Tammie Williams, center, and other demonstrators hold a news conference outside Belmont Park in Elmont on Sunday. Photo Credit: Michael Owens

Opponents of the proposed Belmont Park development called on Sunday for the environmental impact study to include measures of traffic during this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes race.

“That would really give them a sense of what it would be like to have events 200 times a year,” said community organizer Tammie Williams, 36, of Elmont. Williams said the study should look at the annual horse race as an example of how year-round events would affect traffic, parking and Long Island Rail Road ridership in the surrounding community.

“If we’re expecting crowds and crowds of people on our local streets, the best time to study that is on Saturday,” she said.

The plan includes an 18,000-seat sports arena that would be the new home for the New York Islanders hockey team and a concert venue. The $1 billion proposal includes a hotel, retail space, restaurants, office space and community space. The Islanders, along with New York Arena Partners — a development group that includes Sterling Project Development, a real estate firm headed by the Mets’ Wilpon family, and Oak View Group, an arena development company backed financially by Madison Square Garden — would build the project on state-owned land under a 49-year lease.

Williams said a group called the Belmont Park Community Coalition plans to send a letter Monday to the Empire State Development, a state economic development agency, and to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, asking them to conduct the study and include a wide area, not just the immediate neighborhood, that would be affected by the development. The development group has said the environmental impact statement will be completed this year.

Speaking on Sunday across the street from the Belmont racetrack, and flanked by about eight opponents of the plan, Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) said residents and local law enforcement should be extra vigilant during Saturday’s race.

“We’re calling on our county police and our Town of Hempstead to enforce the parking regulations,” Solages said. “We’re asking neighbors to take pictures of people blocking their driveways, that have no respect, or complete disregard for these neighbors’ quality of life that they enjoy in this suburban community.”

Sheila Moriarty, 50, a postal worker from Bellerose Terrace, said her community is close enough to feel the impact of the Belmont Stakes and events that would take place at a new arena. Moriarty said they have had to deal with public drunkenness and noise caused by events at the racetrack from “people who lack respect.”

“During the Stakes, we have to completely change our way of life,” Moriarty said.

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