Political and community leaders decried the slow pace of economic development in Elmont, particularly at Belmont Park and along Hempstead Turnpike and other commercial corridors, at a summit this week.
About 70 people attended the Elmont Chamber of Commerce's Second Annual Elmont Summit at the Elmont library, where panelists included Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy, Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont), David Sabatino of Envision Valley Stream and Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island.
"We all care about economic development," Solages said.
Attendees expressed disappointment that the racetrack is not used year-round. "I think everyone agrees . . . [Belmont] is an underutilized asset," Alexander said.
Tweedy complained that he feels left out of the loop about Belmont, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently nixed a proposal for a new casino. "We are stakeholders in this, and we really need to know what is going on and be part of the planning," Tweedy said.
But Dan Silver, a spokesman for the New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont, said Thursday in a statement that its representatives met last year with leaders from neighboring Elmont, Floral Park and Garden City.
In March, the state allocated $50,000 toward a study by the Empire State Development Corp. of the possible redevelopment of Belmont. The agency will incorporate input from community groups in its vision plan and work with local officials "to ensure that the priorities of the surrounding residents and businesses are addressed," Andrea Lohneiss, the corporation's Long Island regional director, said in a statement.
In response to residents complaints that the Belmont train station is only opened during racing season, LIRR officials said in a statement that turning Belmont into a full-time station would be "extremely costly."
The LIRR would reassess infrastructure investment should the area undergo "significant" development, the statement read.
Chamber member and panel moderator Muzzio Tallini stressed that businesses on Plainfield Avenue, Linden Boulevard, Dutch Broadway and Meacham Avenue also want economic development. "Whatever would put more customers through their doors, they will support," he said.