TODAY'S PAPER
42° Good Afternoon
42° Good Afternoon
Opinion

Big decisions about LI's future

An aerial view of the current LIRR station

An aerial view of the current LIRR station at Belmont Park. The newly built LIRR station is part of a proposed $1.2 billion arena project for the New York Islanders. Credit: Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo/Kevin P. Coughlin

Daily Point

A new LIRR station for Belmont

The year was 1933. The place was Massapequa Park.

That’s the last time the Long Island Rail Road opened a full-service train station that continues to operate today. (No, we’re not counting the small Southampton College station that was opened in the 1970s and closed two decades later.)

Now, 86 years later, Long Island finally is getting a new station.

And the financially strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority isn’t spending a dime on it.

The new Elmont station will be on the LIRR’s Main Line, and will serve those heading to and from Belmont Park’s planned new arena for the New York Islanders and retail complex, along with commuters from Elmont and other neighboring communities.

The station addresses traffic and transit – the most significant issue that has been raised by critics of the Belmont project. To combat one of the other oft-raised issues, the developers have reduced the size of the retail portion of the project from 435,000 square feet to 350,000 square feet.

While the $105 million train station will be built by the MTA, the vast majority of its costs eventually will be paid by New York Arena Partners, the development team that includes Sterling Project Development and the New York Islanders.

But to start, more of the funds will come from New York State’s transportation budget.

At the tail end of the legislative session last month, sources told The Point, lawmakers approved an additional $75 million in transportation-related capital-project fund appropriations.

While no specific purpose was listed at the time, those funds were put aside specifically for the train station project.

At the start of the work, the developers will put in $30 million toward the station, and the state will put up the remaining $75 million. Once the development and the station are completed, the developers will pay back the state, funding all but $8 million of the total.

Far outweighing any of that, however, is the economic output the project is expected to generate: about $725 million annually.

To the MTA, though, the most important number is $0 – the amount of money it has to spend to make the whole thing happen.

Monday afternoon, Empire State Development held a board meeting to address the Belmont Park project and release the final environmental impact statement. A public comment period will be held over the next couple of weeks. The project still requires approval from the ESD board, the Franchise Oversight Board, and the Public Authorities Control Board.

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Court counts

The bitter nail-biter of the Queens district attorney’s race in which only 16 votes separate establishment candidate Melinda Katz from progressive Tiffany Cabán for the Democratic nomination now centers on how to evaluate more than 100 affidavit ballots initially rejected by the NYC Board of Elections. Both sides are due in Queens State Supreme Court Tuesday in what is expected to be the first round of a judicial slugfest. 

And now Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Speaker Carl Heastie are in the middle of it all.

New York has notoriously hypertechnical election rules that in the past have led to the invalidation of many provisional ballots given to voters who show up at a particular polling precinct but find that their names are not listed on the election rolls, usually because they have moved. Each person is then given a paper ballot to make his or her choice. On the outside of the envelope the person provides his or her name, prior address and party affiliation.

The Cabán campaign had identified at least 114 ballots by voters who live in neighborhoods that came out big for her but did not properly complete the enrollment information. 

To make sure those votes count, Cabán supporters are demanding that Cuomo sign a bill the State Legislature passed this session that eases the stringent requirements on certifying provisional ballots. It is one of about two dozen election law bills passed this session, and like much of the legislation rushed through, it’s not precisely drafted. 

The bill in question would allow a provisional ballot to be counted if the prior address was omitted. But it is silent on whether in a primary fight, the failure to list a party registration matters. However, the bill includes the catchall phrase saying a ballot should be counted if there is “substantial compliance” with providing the information required. Another confusing factor is that the bill doesn’t say whether any of these changes would apply retroactively.

Progressives want Cuomo to sign the bill immediately, but it’s not on his desk yet. Because the bill originated in the Assembly, Heastie must officially send it to the governor’s office, an action that triggers a 10-day window in which the governor must veto it, otherwise it becomes law. 

And the insistence that officials sign a bill for immediate partisan gain might provide yet another reason why the law, were it to be signed before the recount is complete, would not survive judicial scrutiny. 

Rita Ciolli @RitaCiolli

Pencil Point

Team USA

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/opinion

Quick Points

  • Britain’s new prime minister will be chosen by some 160,000 members of the country’s Conservative Party — about 0.3 percent of Britain’s registered voters. And you thought the Electoral College was unrepresentative?
  • Several weeks after his comments about working fruitfully with Southern segregationists were roundly and fiercely derided, former Vice President Joe Biden finally said he regretted his remarks. Talk about stating the obvious.
  • Now that the U.S. women’s soccer team has completed its dominant run to a fourth World Cup title, perhaps it’s time to reframe the terms of their equal-pay argument: Perhaps the American women should be paid more than the American men.
  • Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said of her presidential campaign, “I’m not going to make promises just to get elected.” Which, technically, is making a promise about getting elected.
  • The Department of Justice is shifting to a new team of lawyers to handle the attempt to add a citizenship question to the census. Which on its own does nothing to solve the “contrived” facts of the case.
  • You have to love the cable from the British ambassador to the United States telling his superiors not to expect the Trump administration to become “substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.” He wasn’t wrong, but how cheeky was he given that the British government has completely botched Brexit, can’t agree on how to move forward, has rejected one proposition after another, and is now electing a new leader with equally dim chances of success.
  • Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who just left the Republican Party over his disagreements with President Donald Trump and GOP leaders, says he is considering a presidential run as an independent. If he makes it on the 2020 ballot, that would guarantee that at least one candidate would be calling for Trump’s impeachment.

- Michael Dobie @mwdobie

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Columns