Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino called on the governor’s office and the MTA to make improvements to make the Belmont Long Island Rail Road station a full service stop to commuters as the area is developed.
The Belmont train station has only been open for special events for large races at the racetrack such as the Belmont Stakes. But local officials said the station is underutilized and leaves more than 60,000 residents in Franklin Square and Elmont without a viable commuter station to New York City.
“Don’t let the train wave the station by,” Santino said at a press conference. “We believe in visionary growth and economic prosperity for surrounding communities. Many are not aware that the LIRR station is only used for events like the Belmont Stakes.”
LIRR and MTA officials said there were no plans to add full service to Belmont.
“We’re always looking for ways to meet demand within the limits allowed by our infrastructure,” LIRR spokesman Aaron Donovan said. “That’s why we’re building a second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma and connecting the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal, and it is why we’re working hard to advance Governor Cuomo’s proposal to add a third track to the Main Line which will enhance service to nearby stations like Queens Village, Bellerose and Floral Park.”
Santino said the train service could also provide a vital link to an arena at Belmont Park if the New York Islanders hockey team were to return to Hempstead.
“It would have a significant impact for the Islanders if they were to come back to Hempstead,” Santino said.
Santino stood with Assemb. Ed Ra (R-Frankin Square) during the news conference Friday in Queens, across from the Belmont racetrack. The news conference was interrupted by Nassau County Legis. Carrie Solages (D-Valley Stream) who stood by the podium.
“This is an issue going on five years and our roads are in disrepair,” Solages said. “It’s great they’re finally discussing this issue, but it’s time for some results.”
Officials said the commuter rail is vital to Belmont’s economic development as the state reviews requests for proposals.
Cuomo’s office has already invested $5 million in the Belmont train platform expansion, and there is no train station for Elmont and Franklin Square. Train stations in Floral Park, Garden City, Stewart Manor and Valley Stream are limited to resident parking.
“Residents deserve a full-time station they can call their own,” Ra said. “This would be a major development that could change the history of Belmont.”
Following the news conference, Solages accused Santino of pushing him away from the podium where Santino was speaking.
Santino called it “amateur upstaging” but said no altercation occurred.
Solages demanded an apology and said he reported the incident to Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. Nassau police said it was not their jurisdiction if the incident occurred in Queens.