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Belmont blues

Richard Pfeiffer asks a question at a residents'

Richard Pfeiffer asks a question at a residents' meeting called by Floral Park Village elected officials Wednesday about the proposed Belmont Park Project. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

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Daily Point

Let’s talk Belmont

Community members and village leaders across the neighborhoods surrounding Belmont Park are mobilizing, concerned about the size and scope of the proposed development near the racetrack.

At a meeting of about 100 Floral Park residents last week, organized by the village, the warnings from Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi and Deputy Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald were clear. It’d be like the Belmont Stakes every day, Fitzgerald said, with some 47,000 people coming to the property daily. Murmurs grew as the Floral Park leaders ticked off the problems they saw: traffic, noise, lighting, parking.

“10 lbs of development . . . in a 5 lbs space,” the flyers they handed out proclaimed.

Of course, going shopping or attending a hockey game isn’t the same as heading to a Triple Crown race. And Longobardi told The Point he’s not looking to stop the project altogether. But he told the crowd to call elected officials and get ready to respond as the project moves forward.

That could be, in part, a negotiating tactic as Floral Park officials seek community benefits as part of the final package, using a strategy similar to the one they used during the Long Island Rail Road third-track fight.

But even as that dance continues, the proposed Belmont project, which includes an arena for the New York Islanders, extensive retail space, a hotel and parking, is moving forward. State lawmakers will meet with Empire State Development on Wednesday for an update on the effort, two sources with knowledge of the meeting told The Point.

The meeting comes as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was scheduled to complete its analysis of potential LIRR improvements that could be made to the Belmont stop by the end of September. The MTA hasn’t released its findings publicly, but the sources said it’s likely that transit would be a topic at Wednesday’s meeting.

Meanwhile, an umbrella group of civic organizations and advocates called the Belmont Park Community Coalition, which opposes the plans, will send its troops into the streets for a protest and rally Sunday afternoon outside Gate 5 of Belmont Park. Organizer Tammie Williams told The Point she expects at least 100 people. “We’re knocking on doors, educating our neighbors,” she said.

An ESD spokesman told The Point that the project has been changed to address community concerns, adding that officials “have and will continue to listen to those who will be most affected by the project.”

But even with all of that activity, everyone interested in Belmont is waiting for the next significant step — the release of the draft environmental impact statement. It’s expected before the end of the year.

Randi F. Marshall

Talking Point

The polls in CD1

Results are out from The New York Times Upshot-Siena College live poll, which finds Rep. Lee Zeldin up 49 percent to 41 percent over Democratic challenger Perry Gershon among likely voters in the 1st Congressional District.

It took more than 27,000 calls for the pollsters to speak to 502 people, and the poll’s margin of error is 4.6 percent.

There is some good news for Gershon here in that about 10 percent of voters say they are undecided or wouldn’t say who they’d vote for, and given their responses to questions about issues, those voters appear to lean Democratic.

Also, though the poll finds a 51 percent approval rating for President Donald Trump, it also finds that more people want their representative to be a check on Trump rather than support him (47-46).

The only previous district poll to be made public also finds more appetite for checking Trump than supporting him. That was from Global Strategy Group and paid for by the Democrat-supporting SuperPAC Taking Action Suffolk County. That poll has Gershon within 3, but it also has a relatively high margin of error of 4.9 percent.

During a visit to the Newsday editorial board on Monday, Gershon said his previous private polling was “right on top of” the GSG polling.

He is now out in the field with more polling, conducted by DC firm GBA Strategies, with results expected toward the end of the week, according to a spokesman.

Both campaigns on Tuesday sent statements unsurprisingly celebrating aspects of the new polling. (The poll “reflects the continued, widespread support” for Zeldin, his spokesman said.) None of the polling so far paints a particularly decisive picture, so we’ll all likely be guessing in the campaign’s final weeks.

Mark Chiusano

Pencil Point

Tax shelter

Quick Points

Goodbye Google Plus

  • Google is shutting down its Plus social network after acknowledging a flaw in it could have exposed the data of its users. But Plus’ main flaw was that hardly anyone signed up to use it.
  • An investigative group in Britain has determined that the second of two suspects in the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England also works for Russian military intelligence. File that under O, for obviously.
  • U.S. Postal Service workers are protesting the possible privatization of the service, saying that it would result in a massive loss of jobs. Well, their jobs, anyway. Someone is going to deliver the mail.
  • Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’d be open to confirming a Supreme Court Justice in 2020, an election year, if a seat opens, despite his refusal to give a hearing to Merrick Garland in 2016. How do spell McConnell? H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E.
  • The British street artist Banksy pulled off a fabulous prank when one of his paintings just purchased at auction for $1.4 million self-destructed via a shredder hidden in its frame. Word is that Senate Democrats have contacted Banksy about a presidential executive order model.

Michael Dobie

Columns