It seems that construction of the proposed arena project at Belmont Park will not begin this spring as developers had originally planned, which is a small victory for the villages that surround Belmont, such as Floral Park.
The proposed arena project includes the construction of a brand new New York Islanders arena and potential 435,000 square-foot megamall. A movie theater, restaurants, a 24-story 250-room hotel and much more are also expected to be included in the development plan.
According to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the $1 billion redevelopment of Belmont Park will serve as an internationally recognized destination for sports, entertainment, retail and hospitality, while strengthening the local economy and boosting tourism.
Last year, the Village of Floral Park held a public information meeting to explain the adverse effects the new development would have on the village.
“In the addition of the mall, we’re looking at potentially 18,000 to 20,000 people visiting the mall [daily],” said village trustee Kevin Fitzgerald, who is also the Belmont Task Force chair. “Infrastructure issues such as water, sewage, electric—all of these will have an impact on Floral Park.”
Developer New York Arena Partners originally hoped to break ground in May with Fitzgerald saying that the developers wanted to have the arena open and ready for the 2021-22 NHL season. However, the earliest that developers can start the project is now August or towards the end of the second quarter.
According to Floral Park mayor Dominick Longobardi, more than 2,000 letters in opposition of the project from village residents have been submitted to the ESDC so far.
At a Belmont Park redevelopment hearing that was held at the Elmont Memorial Library earlier this year, Longobardi said that the proposed project has spread out and grown in size from what was originally planned, affecting other villages such as Bellerose, Bellerose Terrace, Queens Village, South Floral Park and Elmont.
“We are not opposing the development,” said Longobardi at the meeting. “And, we are certainly not opposing the Islanders hockey team. The Islanders will be a tenant for 40 nights along with the other tenants on other nights. This is a development project being done by Andrew Governor Cuomo and New York State through the Empire State Development Corp., all of whom are responsible to the taxpayers of this great state. It’s not about where the Islanders will have their home; it’s about the use of New York state land that belongs to each and every one of us here in this room.”
In December of last year, the environmental impact study was released by the ESDC, which showed that heavy traffic delays throughout the area were a strong possibility.
“It is not anticipated that the project-generated traffic volumes would unduly influence the rate of accident occurrence,” stated the study. “In addition, roadway improvements planned by the New York State Department of Transportation [NYSDOT] have the potential to enhance traffic and pedestrian safety.”
The Village of Floral Park requested Nassau County Executive Laura Curran to direct the Nassau County Department of Public Works/Traffic Engineering to complete a full and independent traffic analysis of the proposed project. Nassau County Presiding Officer and New Hyde Park resident Richard Nicollelo, and Nassau County Legislator Vincent Muscarella voiced their support for the village in a letter written to Curran. New York City recently announced that it will conduct a traffic study to determine the effects the project will have in Eastern Queens.
“Nassau County should be doing the same for western Nassau County,” said Nicolello’s and Muscarella’s letter.
Curran responded saying that she acknowledges the village’s request that the ESDC’s project should be reviewed by the Nassau County Planning Commission.