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
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
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