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Floral Park mayor questions size of Belmont Park development

Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi expressed concern about

Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi expressed concern about a proposed electric substation near Floral Park-Bellerose School. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi says new proposals that would increase the size of the proposed $1 billion development at Belmont Park, which includes an arena for the New York Islanders, would jeopardize the village’s “way of life.”

Longobardi told village residents in a Feb. 28 email that newly-released details about the project from Empire State Development raise significant concerns and are in “direct contradiction” to previous disclosures by the state.

Longobardi, a member of a state advisory committee focused on the development, expressed concern about a planned 40,000-square-foot electric substation near the Floral Park-Bellerose School and a proposal for a 250-room hotel. At about 24 stories, it would be one of the county’s tallest buildings.

The plans surfaced in a recent state notice of public meetings about the Belmont project.

“It appears that our good faith has gone unrecognized,” wrote Longobardi, who has expressed concerns about the project in the past.

“This only heightens our concerns about the manner in which this process is being conducted,” Longobardi said. “The new proposal clearly shows a direct impact to Floral Park and previous representations and written communication can be described as misleading, to put it mildly.”

The message is posted on the village website.

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) said she was “disappointed” with the modifications to the redevelopment plan.

“Communities surrounding Belmont were led to believe that development would fall into very specific parameters,” Phillips said. “It now appears those parameters have not only changed, but have very significant additions that must be discussed with everyone who is impacted by this design.”

Officials with Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, said the substation is being built by PSE & G regardless of the arena development and the size of the hotel remains under discussion.

“The purpose of the public review process is to engage with community stakeholders, study possible impacts, and refine the proposal accordingly,” said ESD spokeswoman Amy Varghese. “This is the start of the public review process and these options are being presented to the community for input.”

The Islanders’ development team, New York Arena Partners, includes Sterling Project Development, a real estate firm run by the Mets’ Wilpon family, and Oak View Group, an arena development company backed financially by Madison Square Garden. A spokesman for the team declined to comment.

The project calls for an 18,000-seat arena and 435,000 square feet of retail stores, restaurants, a movie theater and a hotel.

Longobardi did not respond to requests for comment.

Longobardi also complained in the email that ESD plans to study the impact of the development only for a ½ mile distance from two parcels south of the racetrack that are eyed for development.

But the notice said the developer also wants to use the North Lot, leased by the New York Racing Association, for additional parking. The lot, which was not included in the state’s original Request for Proposals, borders several homes.

“It is now clear that the project will utilize significant areas to the north of the racetrack property as well,” Longobardi wrote. “The net effect of this arbitrary approach will be to ensure that impact to residents in places like Bellerose and much of the Village of Floral Park are ignored.”

ESD officials said the developer must work out usage of the lot with NYRA.

The agency will host public meetings on the Belmont project at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on March 22 at the Elmont Memorial Library.

With Jim Baumbach

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