It seems state officials are listening and ready to address the largest remaining concern about Belmont Park’s redevelopment.
An agreement to study a new full-time Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont Park is a key step toward providing much-needed regularly scheduled service at the site of a proposed hockey arena, hotel and retail village. The station could serve workers, shoppers, concertgoers and hockey fans, while alleviating traffic and providing a new commuting hub for area residents.
By putting the station on the LIRR’s Main Line, likely near Belmont Park’s north parking lot, state officials would provide travelers from Nassau and Suffolk with a direct route to Belmont and avoid the expense and complexity of transforming the existing but little used spur alongside the track. As a bonus, the plan could give horse-racing fans another option on the day of the Belmont Stakes.
But there’s still a lot we don’t know. State officials are working with the developers, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York Racing Association to address details, including the station’s exact location, the sharing of Belmont’s north parking lot, and shuttle-bus options to the proposed arena and shopping village.
Then there’s the issue of paying for it. The financially stressed MTA can’t be expected to foot the whole bill. So, the players behind this project, including Sterling Project Development and the New York Islanders, would have to pay for a lot of it directly, or try other financing methods, such as one that uses the developer’s future revenues and property value increases to pay for public projects.
It’s all doable if the state, MTA and the developers devise a transit plan that has something for everyone, and it could turn Belmont Park into a true jewel in Long Island’s crown.