This originally appeared in The Point, the editorial board's newsletter for insiders. To subscribe, click here.
It’s clear that developers interested in unused land at Belmont Park are concerned about the approval process they will face, the room for parking they’re going to have to provide, the roadblocks they may encounter and the timetable ahead.
The state’s Empire State Development office posted answers Wednesday afternoon to more than 50 questions it received regarding the request for proposals for 36 acres at Belmont.
Although that area now is entirely parking lots, bidders would not have to replace that parking. Instead, they simply would have to provide sufficient parking space for the development they would propose, and allow the racetrack to use their garages or lots on key race days.
Bidders also inquired about the previous request for proposals at Belmont, which was canceled after four years of waiting. Empire State Development refused to provide a timetable, noting only that it is seeking “opportunities beyond the scope of the original RFP.”
State officials had to assure potential bidders several times throughout the Q&A that the state — not the Town of Hempstead — would coordinate the review and approval process. The state will “request written consent” from the town, but has the sole authority to override all zoning at the site. The environmental review, officials said, could take one to two years.
Clearly, some respondents have history on their minds, perhaps recalling efforts to develop the Nassau Hub, which met resistance from the town.
A future home for the Islanders is still at issue — only now at Belmont, where the hockey team might bid in the hopes of building an arena there.
And that, too, came up, as one question specifically inquired about the need for a team.
State officials replied, “A Respondent is not required to have a sports team in tow with its proposal.”