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Elmont civic leaders sue to stop Islanders sports complex at Belmont

A rendering of the Islanders' Belmont arena.

A rendering of the Islanders' Belmont arena. Photo Credit: New York Arena Partners LLC

A handful of Elmont civic leaders filed a lawsuit Saturday to try and stop construction on the Islanders’ $1.3 billion sports and entertainment project, in the second court action challenging the legitimacy of the state’s approval process.

The lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Mineola, contends the state does not have the authority to designate its own land at Belmont for private development. The suit claims the property is parkland that has previously been a disaster evacuation site for residents.

The suit names the state's business aid agency Empire State Development (ESD), the developers New York Arena Partners and others.

The suit says the developer, without objection from any town or county officials, has "misappropriated" Belmont Park for its private use and argues that the project's environmental impact must be further studied. 

"Unfortunately, the state has chosen to ignore the surrounding communities and our concerns about the current redevelopment proposal," said one of the plaintiffs, Lori Halop of the Belmont Park Community Coalition. 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to attend a groundbreaking ceremony Monday, though work technically began at the Belmont site in August after the Islanders group received approvals from three state agencies over the summer.

Other plaintiffs include Joyce Stowe of the Tudor Manor Civic Association, Cheryl Lee of the Parkhurst Civic Association and Aubrey Phillips, listed as an Elmont civic leader. 

The Village of Floral Park filed a suit Sept. 9 challenging the state's environmental review process.  

A spokesman for New York Arena Partners — the partnership between the Islanders, Mets and arena development company Oak View Group — referred comment to ESD.

Spokesman Jack Sterne said in a statement, "Empire State Development does not comment on pending litigation. This project has gone through a transparent, public process over multiple years.

"We will vigorously defend our actions so we can move forward with this project, which will deliver thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity to Nassau County.”

The Islanders’ project, which calls for a 19,000-seat arena, 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail, was awarded the development rights in December 2017 following a state issued request for proposals.

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