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Environment group raises concerns about Belmont development

Rendering of the proposed development at Belmont Park,

Rendering of the proposed development at Belmont Park, which includes an 18,000-seat hockey arena for the New York Islanders. Credit: Sterling Project Development

A Merrick environmental group is raising concerns about the proposed $1 billion development at Belmont Park and its potential impact on sewage infrastructure and water quality in South Shore communities.

Long Island Clean Air and Soil, a nonprofit group, is urging state officials to investigate whether the ocean outfall pipe at the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant on the Wantagh-Seaford border will be able to handle the additional volume from the Belmont project.

“Our main concern with this project — and any potential smart growth project — is the reliance on wastewater treatment all going to Cedar Creek, which we believe is not sustainable in the long run,” the group’s co-director Dave Denenberg said.

The developers, New York Arena Partners, are planning an 18,000-seat arena that would be the new home of the New York Islanders, plus an entertainment complex with 435,000 square feet of retail, restaurants and a 250-room hotel.

The proposal also calls for 30,000 square feet of office space; 10,000 square feet of community and innovation space; 8.5 acres of public open space and more than 3,700 parking spots.

Denenberg, a former Democratic Nassau County legislator, said the group supports development of Belmont.

But he said members want to ensure the state’s environmental review process includes evaluation of Cedar Creek and the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway. Together, they process 85 percent of Nassau County’s sewage.

The plants each treat approximately 58 million of gallons per day. That is short of their respective capacities of 70 mgd and 72 mgd, according to Nassau’s Department of Public Works.

“While the county is confident the Bay Park plant has more than enough capacity, the specific demand would be vetted as part of the environmental impact process and the developer would make a formal written request to the Department of Public Works for sanitary sewer treatment availability,” said Michael Martino, spokesman for Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

Martino worked previously for Suez North America, which has a 20-year contract to operate Nassau County’s sewer system.

Empire State Development Corp., the state’s economic development agency, is preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, as required by state law.

Public comment is part of that environmental review process, and Long Island Clean Air and Soil submitted a letter addressing sewage as its top concern.

ESD spokeswoman Amy Varghese said the agency has received more than 700 comments, letters and testimony regarding development at Belmont, and is reviewing them.

“Sustainability is a major component of the environmental review process for the proposed Belmont redevelopment project,” Varghese said.

Denenberg, a former attorney from Merrick, represented Nassau’s 19th Legislative District. He resigned in 2015 and pleaded guilty to stealing more than $2 million from a client. He served 3 months in prison.

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