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Belmont arena project is a milestone for Long Island

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, center, stands with

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, center, stands with from left, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Jeff Wilson, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NY Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello, NY Islander owner John Ledecky, and right NY Islanders Captain Anders Lee break ground on the new arena at Belmont Park on Monday, Sept. 21, 2019 in Elmont. Credit: Howard Schnapp

There are few parcels on Long Island as valuable and significant as Belmont Park.

Belmont opened as a racetrack in 1905. Little has changed at the 445-acre site  in 50 years.

Monday marked a new moment for Belmont Park, for the Nassau County and Queens communities around it, and for Long Island as a whole. In breaking ground on a $1.3 billion redevelopment effort, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other state and local officials demonstrated there is a way to move forward.

The shovels, construction equipment and mounds of unearthed dirt were vital first signs of the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity that will come to Nassau County. When the work is done, Belmont will be much more than a racetrack. It will be an entertainment centerpiece, with a hotel, retail village, full-service train station and an arena that will be the new home of the New York Islanders.

That, too, is an enormous step. Like Belmont itself, the Islanders' search for a new home has seen many plans in the last two decades that ultimately failed. Now, the team and its fans have an answer, one that returns the team  to Long Island, where they belong.

 There are still a few loose ends. The Village of Floral Park and several civic groups have sued to stop the project. While there has been extensive community outreach to meet local concerns, if any legitimate issues remain to be addressed, sit down and come up with a plan.

Belmont represents what's possible for Long Island, a future that includes more meaningful development at key sites, including the Nassau Hub, Hicksville, Ronkonkoma and Riverhead, and perhaps even another Stanley Cup — or four.

Those are game-winning goals. — The editorial board