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Isles' Jon Ledecky: No 'showstoppers' expected in Belmont arena environmental study

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and Hempstead town supervisor Laura Gillen are excited that the Islanders will play 21 games at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum this season.  Ledecky also says the environmental study at Belmont Park will not include any significant hurdles that might jeopardize the Islanders’ timeline to start construction on their future arena. Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said the soon-to-be-released environmental study at Belmont Park will not include any significant hurdles that would jeopardize the Islanders’ timeline to start construction on the team’s future home.

“I don’t think there are any showstoppers, from what I’ve been led to believe,” Ledecky said Friday at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, a day before the Islanders’ first regular-season game at their refurbished former arena in Uniondale.

Empire State Development, the state’s primary business aid agency, has said results of the study of the impact on the Islanders’ proposed $1 billion Belmont development will be released before the end of the year. The plan calls for an 18,000-seat arena, 250-room hotel and an accompanying retail center around the racetrack at Belmont Park.

“We can adapt to what the findings are and we will,” Ledecky said. “The whole thing is to stay on course and to be playing hockey at Belmont Park in 2021.”

ESD has said the environmental impact statement will address traffic and detail plans for the LIRR station, which currently is only part-time. Ledecky has called for it to become a full-time station.

“We’ve got the commitment from the Long Island Rail Road to supply gameday train service to us,” Ledecky said. “That’s the first step. In any situation you have to go step by step.”

He said the Islanders’ group, which also includes the Wilpon family’s Sterling Project Development and the arena management company Oak View Group, have met several times with the LIRR about expanding train service at Belmont.

“The LIRR has to study what they need to do to go from that level of service to the level of service that we think the community deserves,” Ledecky said.

An LIRR spokeswoman said the LIRR will continue to work with ESD and the developers as the project progresses.

“I’m not a railroad engineer but I know there are a lot of complexities,” Ledecky said. “I don’t think you can snap your fingers and supply full-time service.”

Residents of the surrounding areas will have a chance to comment on the results of the study at a public hearing.

“We are going to be very responsive to the community’s input,” Ledecky said.

Ledecky spoke to Newsday at the Coliseum on Friday alongside Town of Hempstead supervisor Laura Gillen, who said she supports the Islander group’s plans to develop Belmont Park.

Ledecky said he was thankful for the show of unity from Gillen, noting the “past history” between the team and the Town of Hempstead.

Former Islanders owner Charles Wang and former Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray engaged in a public feud for years when Wang was pitching a redevelopment of the Nassau Hub.

Gillen said she supports Belmont because, like the property surrounding the Coliseum, “we’ve had asphalt wastelands that have been unrealized promise for residents.”

She said she also supports the $1.5 billion proposal by BSE Global — which operates both Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the Coliseum -- and RXR Realty to develop the land surrounding the Uniondale arena.

She said she is confident both the Belmont arena project and the renovated Coliseum can coexist.

“It’s going to be different scales of development and different opportunities and attractions at both arenas so I’m optimistic they’ll both succeed,” she said.

While the proposed Belmont project is taking place on state land, the neighboring communities fall within the Town of Hempstead. Gillen said the town has been in touch with ESD about issues such as transportation and negotiating a community benefits agreement.

“We want to make sure this is a project that’s embraced by everybody in the community,” she said.

New York Sports