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Queens Chronicle

Arena critics get a new LIRR station

Residents, officials in Eastern Queens secure rail service to offset traffic

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Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:29 pm, Thu Jul 11, 2019.

Among the demands that Queens officials have been making in return for their approval of a hockey arena and hotel at Belmont Park was a full-service, two-direction Long Island Rail Road station to help alleviate the traffic impact on the Cross Island Parkway and neighborhoods in Eastern Queens.

Gov. Cuomo announced on Monday that they are getting one.

The new station will be on the LIRR’s main line between the existing Bellerose and Queens Village stations.

“The Belmont project will help drive the region’s economy forward while building the Islanders a state-of-the-art facility at home on Long Island, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output along the way,” Cuomo said in a statement issued by his office.

The governor said it will be the first new LIRR station in more than 50 years.

The project is intended to build an 18,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League; it will hold 19,000 for concerts. Also being planned are a 250-room hotel and an upscale shoppers’ village.

The aim is to have the Islanders in the new arena in time for the NHL’s 2021-22 season. The Empire State Development Corp. is teaming up on the project with New York Arena Partners, a consortium of developers that includes the Islanders ownership and Sterling Equities, which is controlled by the Wilpon family, owners of the New York Mets.

The arena will be in Nassau County just east of the Cross Island Parkway. Civic leaders and elected officials on Queens’ eastern border have been alarmed from the start over how much traffic could be generated both on the already-jammed CIP and in neighborhoods such as Queens Village and Cambria Heights.

Queens officials appeared to be signing on. State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) has said repeatedly that he would not support the project without an LIRR component.

“This new station will not only be a boon to the redevelopment project, which will create 10,000 construction jobs and 3,200 permanent jobs, but also for commuters who are dealing with crowded conditions at the Queens Village and Bellerose stations and heavy traffic on the Cross Island Parkway,” Comrie said in Cuomo’s press release.

Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) said he was excited about the news.

“Eastern Queens and the Elmont community have been in need for transportation alternatives for a very long time,” Vanel said. “Also, we are encouraged about the economic opportunities in the community.”

In an email to the Chronicle on Tuesday, Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) believes the station improves the project.

“Finding the nexus between smart economic development and robust community input is the path to long-term success in New York State,” Vallone wrote. “A new, full-time railroad station at Belmont Park will provide proper relief from existing traffic on the Cross Island Parkway and overcrowding conditions at other LIRR stations in the area.”

And while the councilman said he is looking forward to the project and its economic benefits coming to fruition, Vallone is not going to settle for that alone.

“Next up, an Islanders Stanley Cup!” he wrote.

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