Who's paying for the Belmont station?
The year was 1933. The place was Massapequa Park.
That’s the last time the Long Island Rail Road opened a full-service train station that continues to operate today. (No, we’re not counting the small Southampton College station that was opened in the 1970s and closed two decades later.)
Now, 86 years later, Long Island finally is getting a new station.
And the financially strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority isn’t spending a dime on it.
The new Elmont station will be on the LIRR’s Main Line, and will serve those heading to and from Belmont Park’s planned new arena for the New York Islanders and retail complex, along with commuters from Elmont and other neighboring communities.
The station addresses traffic and transit – the most significant issue that has been raised by critics of the Belmont project. To combat one of the other oft-raised issues, the developers have reduced the size of the retail portion of the project from 435,000 square feet to 350,000 square feet.
While the $105 million train station will be built by the MTA, the vast majority of its costs eventually will be paid by New York Arena Partners, the development team that includes Sterling Project Development and the New York Islanders.
But to start, more of the funds will come from New York State’s transportation budget.
At the tail end of the legislative session last month, sources told The Point, lawmakers approved an additional $75 million in transportation-related capital-project fund appropriations.
While no specific purpose was listed at the time, those funds were put aside specifically for the train station project.
At the start of the work, the developers will put in $30 million toward the station, and the state will put up the remaining $75 million. Once the development and the station are completed, the developers will pay back the state, funding all but $8 million of the total.
Far outweighing any of that, however, is the economic output the project is expected to generate: about $725 million annually.
To the MTA, though, the most important number is $0 – the amount of money it has to spend to make the whole thing happen.
Monday afternoon, Empire State Development held a board meeting to address the Belmont Park project and release the final environmental impact statement. A public comment period will be held over the next couple of weeks. The project still requires approval from the ESD board, the Franchise Oversight Board, and the Public Authorities Control Board.