Calls from Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi to meet with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over concerns about the Islanders’ $1.3 billion Belmont project came as a surprise, officials in the governor's office said Wednesday, because a sit-down is already scheduled.
State budget director Robert Mujica said a meeting with Longobardi and project developers is set for later this month but village representatives have yet to specify their issues with the plan. Last month, Empire State Development, the state agency coordinating the project, approved plans for a 19,000-seat arena, 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail space on 43 acres of state land at Belmont Park.
A groundbreaking ceremony is expected this month.
“They still haven’t given me concrete things. I will work with you on those real things,” Mujica said. “I would love to have that list and be able to work off that list and chip things off.”
Longobardi called for the discussion with Cuomo at a Tuesday night meeting of village trustees without making any reference to the previously scheduled meeting. The mayor said the meeting's intent would be to tell the governor of concerns about potential quality-of-life issues from the project for residents in the village.
“I want assurances from the governor and his staff that we actually will sit down and have meaningful discussions,” Longobardi said Wednesday. “That’s all I’m asking.”
Longobardi said he made his plea Tuesday night because construction preparation at the project has started and he didn't want to wait until the Sept. 16 meeting.
“What I’ve asked for is to have the meeting go happen sooner," Longobardi said, "because they’re doing more work by the day here, and I need to consider how I’m going to protect the village.”
At the Tuesday trustees meeting, the mayor said he had hoped to discuss with Cuomo “the detrimental effects” the Islanders’ proposal will have on Floral Park before possibly going forward with a lawsuit to stop it.
Village trustees have authorized the filing of a lawsuit, Longobardi said, but a meeting could spur a “real” discussion of village residents' concerns.
Floral Park homes and an elementary school border the north parking lot at Belmont, which will include a new Long Island Rail Road station and parking for the arena. Longobardi said his major issues revolve around safety and traffic.
“The basic problem we have going on here is this: They’ve started work,” the mayor said. “Are we going to have a real conversation? Because if you’ve started work, you already have plans.”
The project has already gone through a lengthy environmental review process and has received all the necessary approvals to start construction, officials said.
"We will do the right thing by them to the extent we can," Mujica said, "but the project is the project and it’s going forward."