This story was reported by Jim Baumbach, Alfonso A. Castillo and Candice Ferrette. It was written by Ferrette.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday is expected to announce a plan to build a new Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont Park as part of a proposed $1.2 billion arena project for the New York Islanders, sources said.
The full-service rail station will cost about $100 million with arena developers funding a majority of the construction, according to sources with knowledge of the project.
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.
Backers of the Islanders project consider the expanded LIRR service to Belmont as a linchpin for the proposed 19,000-seat arena and entertainment complex, which includes 435,000 square feet of retail space along with restaurants, a movie theater and a 250-room hotel.
A spokesman for Cuomo did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
The announcement for the new station comes as Empire State Development Corp., the state agency responsible for attracting economic development to the public land at Belmont, is set to release its final study on the environmental impact of the arena proposal.
Release of the environmental report will represent the final step before the project begins the approval process and construction can begin. The arena is projected to open for the Islanders' 2021-22 hockey season.
ESD began in April to study the feasibility of a LIRR new station on the Main Line connecting Belmont from the east.
The possibility of traffic congestion and a lack of public transportation to the arena was a primary concern in a draft environmental review released late last year. The analysis said the project, “would not have the potential to result in significant adverse cumulative impacts other than in the area of transportation.”
The arena developers, New York Arena Partners, said in April: “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.’’
ESD’s environmental review, begun 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. In December, the agency said 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.
Local residents and lawmakers have pushed for the construction of a full service LIRR station at the project site.
Railroad officials have said the existing Belmont railroad station, which operates only during the track's horse-racing season, is not equipped to handle regular train service. The station — a spur off the LIRR’s Main Line — is only accessible from Jamaica Station.
Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Valley Stream) said she would be “very disappointed” if the proposed new station were not located instead in nearby Elmont. She said residents of her district will be impacted by the construction and increased traffic that will come with the new arena.
“They’re really going to have to come up with a fantastic proposal to convince the residents that they should suffer with traffic and decreased quality of life for a train station that might not be in their community,” Solages said. “I want to hear how they think this is going to work.”