The state agency overseeing the Islanders’ $1.2 billion arena project at Belmont Park is expanding its environmental review to study the possibility of adding a full-time Long Island Rail Road station, sources said.
The new station would be attached to the LIRR’s main line, just north of Belmont Park, and would allow people traveling from the east to take the train directly to Belmont.
The current Belmont Park station operates only during horse racing season and is a spur off the main line, accessible only from Jamaica. Riders from the east must go to Jamaica and transfer to a train to Belmont.
No decision has been made about the new station’s location on the Main Line, sources said.
It is also unknown how much a new station would cost or how it would be financed.
A spokesman for Empire State Development, the state agency coordinating the Islanders’ Belmont project, said only that the project’s environmental review remains on track to be completed before the end of June.
“Empire State Development and the LIRR continue to have productive conversations exploring the possibility of a full-time train station at Belmont,” ESD spokesman Jack Sterne said in an email. “We are currently updating our analyses for our Final Environmental Impact Statement, which is on track for completion in the second quarter of 2019.”
A spokesman for the LIRR declined to comment. The LIRR has said previously it is committed to expanding train service at Belmont as part of the project and is working with ESD.
The Islanders are teamed with the Mets’ Wilpon family and the arena development company Oak View Group. In a statement, the group — called New York Arena Partners — said: “A full-time Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont Park is vital to the success of Belmont Park Arena. This will be a positive development for Elmont and surrounding communities and it will provide an attractive transportation option for Islanders fans. This is a valuable step forward for a project that will generate significant economic benefits for the region.’’
The scarcity of public transit options at Belmont has been a sticking point for residents and politicians who have expressed concern at public hearings about the impact added traffic will have on the area, particularly at rush hour.
ESD has said the majority of the thousands of comments the agency has received from the public have concerned transportation.
The Islanders called for the addition of a full-time LIRR station as part of their Belmont proposal when they were awarded development rights in December 2017. They are proposing a 19,000-seat arena, a 250-room hotel and 435,000 square feet of retail space and restaurants at the site.
ESD’s environmental review, which began in March 2018, previously had focused only on the potential for adding trains to and from the Belmont Park station on a part-time basis only for arena events.
ESD revealed in December that the LIRR had committed to providing two additional trains from Jamaica to the Belmont Park station before events, and two trains returning to Jamaica afterward.
ESD also disclosed then that state officials would “concurrently work with LIRR to explore opportunities for a full-time station to meet the needs of commuters and local residents.”
The new LIRR station under consideration would provide service in addition to the extra trains already committed to servicing the Belmont Park station, sources said.
The sources said that because the LIRR Main Line is located north of Belmont, most people who would arrive at a new station likely would take a shuttle bus to the arena, which will be located on the southwest side of the racetrack. Shuttle buses already are planned for those who park in the north lots.