Well, that was quick.
It’s been just four months since the $1 billion plan to develop unused public land at Belmont Park, which includes an arena for the New York Islanders, was unveiled. But the developers are already changing their plans, in large part to address community concerns. And that bodes well for Belmont, whose development is critically important to the region. The project is due to break ground as soon as next spring.
At a public meeting last week, the developers — which include the New York Islanders; Sterling Project Development, the real estate arm of the New York Mets’ Wilpon family; and Oak View Group, which is backed in part by Madison Square Garden — said the hotel will be significantly shorter than originally planned, and that they will not build an electric substation next to an elementary school. That’s the right way to approach reasonable community objections.
There’s still a lot more to do to complete the environmental review and work out details on building retail space and the hotel south of Hempstead Turnpike. The most important outstanding issue continues to be whether Long Island Rail Road service at Belmont can be increased. To answer that question, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should make Belmont a priority. LIRR representatives would be smart to attend future public meetings and provide information about the challenges to improving service. The MTA should consider tasking improved transit options at Belmont to an outside firm. Imagine an unconventional solution and a fresh, innovative plan.
But Belmont’s revival shouldn’t be delayed by the need to modernize LIRR service. State and local officials, community leaders, and the developers need to get this project over the finish line.— The editorial board