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MTA spending, drug prices, climate crisis and more

The UBS Arena main entrance in Elmont, which

The UBS Arena main entrance in Elmont, which has a new LIRR stop. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

New Elmont station: Wasteful spending

The opening of the Long Island Rail Road’s Elmont-UBS Arena station is a further example of wasteful spending ["A goal achieved as new LIRR station debuts," News, Nov. 17]. With three Main Line LIRR stations — Bellerose, Queens Village and Floral Park — all within a 10-minute shuttle bus ride to the new UBS Arena, and with a free shuttle bus service already in place, why not create a shuttle bus loop that connects existing LIRR stations?

With decreased revenue and ridership as a result of the pandemic, and with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s East Side Access project currently $7 billion over budget, where is the fiscal accountability, even if the developer eventually will foot most of the bill?

Every penny, let alone millions of dollars, should be counted before building additional and unnecessary stations.

— James J. Fitzpatrick, Kings Park

I can’t help but question the true purpose of the new Elmont station. Even when former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced and claimed that the station would serve both the UBS Arena and Elmont residents, the plan seemed a little bizarre, considering how the existing Belmont Park station — despite being located just over the border in Queens — is actually significantly closer and more easily accessible to both the site of the UBS Arena and to Elmont homes.

Not only that, but an electrified wye already exists connecting the Main Line to the Belmont Park spur station from both the west and the east. Instead of building a new, less conveniently located station for both the UBS Arena and Elmont residents, the existing infrastructure to better utilize the Belmont Park station was already in place before Cuomo’s announcement.

Unless there really were capacity constraints that justify the new station, why was it necessary?   

— Mitchell Schwartz, Flower Hill

Sounds like the Elmont station will be of no use to Islanders fans this season as no trains will stop westbound.

If you need to ride to Jamaica only to double back, fans would seemingly be better off using the old Belmont spur station, as it is one mile closer to the arena entrance. I can only imagine the traffic on the Southern State and Cross Island parkways.

— Glenn Tyranski, Huntington

Rice’s caution on drug prices is spot on

Beth Finkel made some reasonable arguments for passing legislation to reduce seniors’ cost burden of prescription drugs ["Rice must vote for fair drug prices," Opinion, Nov. 17]. Yet is the Build Back Better Act the best vehicle to achieve that?

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) has good reason to be wary of that legislation, particularly if she cares about seniors. A goal as worthy as controlling drug costs can stand on its own. It does not need to drown in a miasma of economy-killing taxes and inflationary spending.

The over-50 voters that Finkel says are worried about prescription drug costs are also worried about the viability of Social Security and Medicare.

It is irresponsible to pile a whole new host of entitlements on top of the American taxpayer when existing programs are not fiscally sound.

Thoughtful bipartisan legislation to deal with drug costs will address the real problem. Votes in favor of a progressive goal would cause even more inflation and unintended consequences that harm seniors. I applaud Rice for moving cautiously and being responsible.

— Chris Dillon, Centerport

Rice should vote to slow climate crisis

While I applaud most of Long Island’s congressional representatives for supporting the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, I am deeply concerned about Rep. Kathleen Rice’s latest comments about the Build Back Better Act ["LI advocates: For sake of jobs, climate, pass Build Back Better Act," News, Nov. 17].

It’s interesting that politicians seem to be only worried about tax dollars when it concerns spending for education, social programs and battling the climate crisis. The provisions outlined in the bill are critical for the next generation of New Yorkers.

Long Islanders have been hit with a barrage of unusual and severe storms this year, including six tornadoes on Nov. 13. This is our new normal.

We can work toward mitigating the severity of the climate crisis right now, or we will pay dearly for it down the line.

— Bridget Nixdorf, Islip Terrace

Why have parkland if it’s not for our use?

Shame on Suffolk County! John Turner gets it right by highlighting the inequities, unfairness and violation of state law by the county’s exclusion of residents and taxpayers from 260 acres of beautiful parkland on the Peconic River in favor of a private club ["A private club’s interests vs. the public trust," Opinion, Nov. 18].

Makes you wonder why we have parkland if the county does something like this.

— Herb Mones, Stony Brook

CLARIFICATION: The state will reimburse the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the $105 million cost of the Elmont-UBS Arena station. The developer, New York Arena Partners, eventually will reimburse the state for most of its cost. In an earlier version, the responsibility for the cost was unclear.