Hundreds of residents packed the Elmont Memorial Library auditorium on Thursday for a pair of meetings with the Belmont Park developers to voice their concerns on the impact the project could have on the surrounding areas.
The comments are part of the Environmental Impact Statement process for the project, and written comments will be accepted through April 12.
The proposed development by New York Arena Partners, a joint venture between Sterling Development and Oak View Group, includes a 19,000-seat arena with 18,000 seats available for New York Islander games, a 250-room hotel, 435,000 square feet of retail space, 30,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet for a community space, up to 8.5 acres of public open space and up to 3,700 parking spaces.
Richard Brown, managing partner of Sterling Development, said the original proposal grouped all potential development on a site that is immediately adjacent to Belmont Park, and grouped all parking across Hempstead Turnpike.
In recent planning meetings, however, Brown said developers were considering some retailers’ concerns that lumping all the retail development next to the arena would be chaos on a busy Saturday with both a hockey game and shoppers flooding the area.
Carol O’Neill, a 52-year resident of Floral Park, said she was “getting a little leery” of the proposed development bordering her longtime home.
“We just finished the scoping with the Long Island Rail Road, and I live near it, and my estimation is it’s a big fiasco,” O’Neill said. “I also feel that Plainfield Avenue is one of our prime streets, and the day they have the big race, you can’t get down that street if you tried. I appreciate being able to speak, but I really feel there’s a heck of a lot of questions we still have, and I hope we’re going to get honest answers because we certainly didn’t have honest answers when it came to the railroad.”
Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said while he is in favor of new development moving into the area, it can in no way compromise the quality of life enjoyed by his residents, businesses and schools.
Longobardi, along with Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, was concerned about the traffic and requested the developers do a traffic study within a three-mile radius of the proposed development.
“I am very concerned about traffic being driven into the residential areas of Elmont and Floral Park and the impact this will have on the residents,” Gillen said. “I do believe it is very important that we have public transportation available and a comprehensive public trans plan available to see this project success and my residents not be injured by the project.”
Longobardi also said the hotel, which Brown said is still in the concept stages, must not be used as a casino and should be no taller than the existing Belmont Park grandstand.
Lifelong Floral Park resident Kristin Flood said she’s concerned about the future of the area for her small two children, Conor and Cassidy.
“She’s the future of Floral Park. She is the child who is running around playing soccer at Floral Park Bellerose School,” Flood said. “She plays on the playground, and she does not need this impeding on her quality of life — not now, and not 30 years from now should she choose to raise her family in Floral Park as I have.”