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Belmont arena developers ask judge to dismiss Floral Park lawsuit

An aerial view of Belmont Park is seen

An aerial view of Belmont Park is seen on July 1. A new arena for the New York Islanders will be built in the parking lot behind the racetrack grand stand. Credit: John Keating

New York Arena Partners -- the developers of the Islanders’ $1.3 billion sports arena and entertainment complex at Belmont Park -- asked a state judge late Friday to dismiss the Village of Floral Park’s lawsuit that seeks to stop construction.

Two state agencies involved in the project’s approval process -- Empire State Development and Franchise Oversight Board -- also filed separate requests to throw out the case in state Supreme Court in Mineola on Friday.

Floral Park’s lawsuit, filed last month, asked a judge to overturn all approvals, stop construction on the site and restart the environmental review process. It cited a flawed public bidding process and an inadequate environmental review that they say does not mitigate the project’s negative impacts on the village.

The Islanders group and the state agencies defended the bidding process, their outreach efforts and their mitigation conclusions in multiple court filings on Friday that totaled more than a thousand pages.

A spokesman for New York Arena Partners, in response to a request for comment, referred to their court papers in which attorney Mylan Denerstein wrote, “There is simply no legal basis to hold this project up.”

NYAP, a partnership between the owners of the Islanders, Mets and Oak View Group, is in the process of building a 19,000-seat arena, 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail on 43 acres of state land at Belmont.

Empire State Development, the state agency responsible for selecting the Islanders group as the winning bid in December 2017 and overseeing the environmental review process, said in court papers that the Village of Floral Park has been “an unalterable and steadfast foe” of the project.

“As our filing makes clear, the Belmont Redevelopment Project went through a transparent, public process that adhered to all requirements under state law,” ESD spokesman Jack Sterne said. “The Village of Floral Park’s lawsuit is, in essence, an attempt to stop the project simply because the village doesn’t like it – despite broad support from other community stakeholders and ESD’s full compliance with the law.”

The other motion to dismiss the lawsuit was filed by the Franchise Oversight Board, a state agency that oversees horse racing at Belmont and technically sold the Belmont property to ESD to facilitate the project.

Attorneys for Floral Park will get a chance to respond in writing before state judge Roy Mahon will decide whether the lawsuit can proceed.
Floral Park attorney Michael Murphy said, via email, “We will respond in due course and vigorously defend the Village’s claims and its right to protect its residents and community from the severe impacts this project poses.”

Construction on the Islanders’ arena began in August and is ongoing. The arena is scheduled to be open in October 2021.

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