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Denied permit, annual Belmont Fair won't be held

The Belmont Fair was not held in 2006,

The Belmont Fair was not held in 2006, but resumed in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Credit: handout

The annual Belmont Fair - plagued in past years by rowdyism, gang violence, shootings and complaints from neighbors in Elmont - will not be held next month, police and civic officials said Friday.

Robert Turk, chief of patrol for the Nassau County Police Department, said the New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont Park, decided on its own not to seek a permit this year.

In the past, Nassau police have actively opposed permits for the fair, which ran over four three-day weekends in April.

"This is a private enterprise with no significant benefit to the community, and there were significant costs associated with providing additional police protection in the surrounding areas," Turk said. "We're not in favor of having that activity there."

Two teens were shot and wounded last April 18 when rival gangs met on Hempstead Turnpike after leaving the fair shortly before midnight, police said at the time.

In 2005, two police officers from the Fifth Precinct were hospitalized after a melee broke out while they were trying to quell a disturbance. The fair was not held in 2006, but resumed in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

NYRA spokesman Dan Silver did not return several phone calls seeking comment. The operator of the fair, Reith-offer Shows Inc. of Gibsonton, Fla., could not be reached for comment.

Pat Nicolosi, president of the Elmont East End Civic Association, said he believed NYRA had not issued the permit because it was looking forward to the proposed redevelopment of Belmont Park, with the installation of video lottery terminals and the opening of a hotel and stores. That redevelopment has been stalled in the state government for more than a year.

"This is not what NYRA wants for the future of Belmont, and it's not what the community wants for the future of Elmont," he said of the fair. "We want VLTs, and a hotel and shopping. NYRA wants to have a good relationship with the community, and these fairs and sideshows aren't the way to do it."

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