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Judge denies Floral Park request to halt Belmont Park construction

The Belmont Park Arena construction site on Oct.

The Belmont Park Arena construction site on Oct. 12. Credit: Shelby Knowles

A state Supreme Court justice on Thursday denied the Village of Floral Park’s request to immediately stop certain construction activities on the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park, allowing work to remain on track for the venue to open in 2021.

Floral Park attorneys asked Judge Roy Mahon for the temporary restraining order last Friday, saying village residents were "suffering real and significant adverse impacts” from the work on the 43-acre arena, hotel and retail complex.

Mahon declined Floral Park’s request after a hearing Thursday in Mineola. Mahon said the village did not present enough evidence that those activities will cause “irreparable harm” as its lawsuit continues.

“A temporary restraining order is a drastic remedy,” Mahon said. “As such, the petitioner must make a showing of the irreparable harm that would occur in the absence of such an order. In this regard, to this court, the petitioner has not made such a showing.”

Floral Park’s lawsuit, filed in September, seeks the overturn of all project approvals and restarting of the environmental review process. The suit argues the public bidding process was tipped in favor of the developers and the review was flawed.

Before Mahon’s ruling, attorneys for all parties — Floral Park, the developers New York Arena Partners and Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the project — each had 30 minutes to make their arguments before the judge.

“This project went through a transparent, public process that followed all requirements under state law, and we are pleased the judge’s decision recognizes that,” said ESD spokesman Jack Sterne.

“We will continue to work with the surrounding communities to minimize inconveniences during construction and remain committed to vigorously defending this project,” Sterne said.

Floral Park was seeking to prohibit the developers of the $1.3 billion sports and entertainment project from using the north parking lot at Belmont, driving construction trucks down Plainfield Avenue in Floral Park and sheet pile driving at the project site.

New York Arena Partners argued it was within its rights to use the north lot, already has limited truck traffic on Plainfield Avenue and the sheet pile work already is near completion. A construction halt potentially could delay the arena opening, developers said.

Richard Browne, managing partner of Sterling Project Development, which is overseeing construction, said in court papers that stopping construction for “even a short period” meant “it is a virtual certainty” the Islanders arena would not be ready for the start of the team's 2021-22 season.

“The construction is on a tight time frame, and every day counts,” Browne said.

ESD accused Floral Park in court papers filed late Wednesday of intentionally timing its request for a temporary restraining order to stop work “to inflict maximum disruption.”

“While we did not get the TRO granted we did get some of the things that we wanted to see happen to ensure the quality of life that our people deserve,” Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said, noting that New York Arena Partners agreed to cease truck traffic on Plainfield Avenue.

The Belmont arena — the new home of the New York Islanders hockey team — gained final state approval in August. The project calls for a 19,000-seat arena for games and concerts; 350,000 square feet of upscale shops and restaurants; a 250-room hotel and parking.

NYAP is a partnership between the owners of the Islanders, Mets and the arena development company Oak View Group.

“Our groundbreaking at Belmont [in September] was a milestone marking a new era for Nassau County,” Nassau Executive Laura Curran said. “Today marks another milestone moving us forward. Say goodbye to the Land of No — we’re growing again and building for the future.”

Before the arena's planned opening in October 2021, the Islanders are splitting their home games between Barclays Center in Brooklyn and NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum.

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