Gov. breaks ground on Belmont arena 1

Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the plans to build a Belmont Park arena for the NHL’s New York Islanders as Gov. Cuomo and the Islanders are.

The developers and politicians on Monday were singing the praises of the new hockey arena/concert venue, hotel and shopping village on the grounds of Belmont Park just over the Nassau County border.

Gov. Cuomo, who has backed the project from its inception, was on hand Monday morning for the groundbreaking on the site, along with representatives of the Islanders, the state’s Economic Development Corp., and politicians from both sides of the Cross Island Parkway.

The Islanders now play their home games in Barclays Center in Brooklyn and a few at their former environs at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, LI. The team’s ownership is a member of New York Arena partners, a consortium that includes Sterling Equities, owned by the Wilpon family of New York Mets fame.

“The developers will also help fund a new full-time Long Island Rail Road station in Elmont — the first new, full-time LIRR stop in nearly 50 years,” Cuomo said in a text of the event provided by his office. “This new station will allow riders to access the new arena, hotel, and retail village from both the east and west, while providing a new commuting option for Long Islanders.”

The new arena is scheduled to be done in time for the National Hockey League’s 2021-22 season. Cuomo said over the next two years, construction of the arena, hotel and retail village is expected to create 10,000 jobs and generate $2.7 billion in economic activity. By 2024, the project is expected to sustain 3,200 new full-time jobs, produce $858 million in annual economic activity and generate tens of millions of dollars in new annual tax revenue.

The Islanders played in the Nassau Coliseum from their expansion season in 1972 until 2015; but the team’s relationship with Barclays Center management began to sour almost immediately. The newly renovated coliseum no longer meets NHL minimum standards for seating capacity or other requirements.

The plans are not universally loved in the neighborhoods abutting Belmont. A number of people at a meeting of Queens Community Board 13 on Monday night continued to express concerns over the potential impact of traffic and off-site parkers from hockey games and concerts on the Cross Island and on residential streets in Queens Village and Cambria Heights [see related story in some editions and online at qchron.com].

Four Nassau County civic associations on Sunday filed a complaint in Nassau County to block further work on the project, according to an email sent to the Chronicle by the Belmont Park Coalition. The Village of Floral Park has its own suit in the courts.

State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said he has been promised a traffic study.

“I particularly look forward to the creation of a full-service LIRR station, a comprehensive traffic mitigation strategy for local roads and the Cross Island Parkway and living-wage jobs for our local residents,” Comrie said in a statement accompanying Cuomo’s.

Assemblyman Clyde Vanel (D-Queens Village) also expressed enthusiasm.

“The communities surrounding Belmont Park, especially Eastern Queens and Elmont, have long sought thoughtful economic development and investments in transit — and that is exactly what this project will create,” he said.

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