Mayor’s Message: August 4, 2011

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Continuing our analysis of an Indian Casino at Belmont Park using our Statement of Principles from 2007, we focus on the third principle; infrastructure.  Nothing has been the same since Belmont Park-NYRA altered the natural contours and drainage piping subsequent to its renovation in 1964-67. Flooding in Floral Park and Elmont is not a natural occurrence; it is the consequence of unexamined development.

Plan and Provide New State of the Art Infrastructure: III.

In order to achieve that goal, there must be a plan in place for a state of the art infrastructure and facilities worthy of being called the nation’s premier venues for thoroughbred racing and a source of community pride. Such modernization  of the infrastructure must encompass and be projected into the surrounding neigborhoods in which such world class entertainment facilities are situated. This includes a complete updated inventory and evaluation for updating of roads, state of the art water, sewer, water recharge basins and electrical systems both within and surrounding these facilities. From user friendly sidewalks and lighting to new estate fencing, the facilities must be able to compete with and be co parable  to  the  support  already  provided or committed to other major entertainment facilities in  the State of New York such as the new Major League Baseball facilities at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the new Citi Field in Flushing Meadows Queens and the new Natio al Basketball Association venue in Brooklyn.

Much has been written about the urgent need to replace the outdated and apparently obsolete Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which opened in 1972! Surely Belmont Park, which is over 100 years old and had its last major overhaul in the early 1960s, is long past due for similar renovations. While NYRA is moving ahead with a $100 million updating of its Saratoga facilities, and  the  new  $300 million VLT Resorts World at Aqueduct is scheduled to be open this fall, there has been no similar commitments made  to update the infrastructure at Belmont Park. We have heard nothing from the State of New York about when it will begin rectifying the serious infrastructure deficiencies emanating in and around its Belmont Park property, even though the State of New York now has singular ownership and control over the 435-acre Belmont Park site.

We all  understand  the  frustration our neighbors closest to Belmont Park have experienced due to the flooding and water damage caused by the inadequate infras-tructure that is now in place at, or impacted by Belmont Park. We also all recently experienced the third world inconvenience of having to boil our drinking water  primarily as the result of troubling water tests indicating contamination by either human or animal waste at a location not far from Belmont Park. Is there any doubt that the adding of the Shinnecock’s grand plans of a 24/7/365 casino, comparable to the 14 million visitors a year to Foxwoods Casino, will potentially bring our already fragile infrastructure to its breaking point? How many boiled water alerts from the Western Nassau County Water Authority or local flooding alerts from Nassau County OEM will the local communities experience as a  result of the exponential increase of year-round visitors envisioned with the Shinnecock’s casino at Belmont Park?

In order to avoid any further inconvenience to the communities surrounding Belmont Park, the first thing on the governor’s agenda concerning Belmont Park must be completing the long overdue overhaul and updating of all its infrastructure. The updating of roads, state of the art water, sewer, storm water drainage piping, storm water recharge basins and electrical systems both within and surrounding these Belmont  Park facilities is a necessity and an absolute prerequisite BEFORE one slot machine is played or one pair of dice is tossed at Belmont Park.

Having some new soccer fields  or  a new sports bar built may be a nice accommodation  for a small segment of the community, but far more important is the fact that  everyone in our neighboring communities deserves to be able to turn on their lights, drink their tap water or flush their toilet without worrying about the effects a new megaproject at Belmont Park will put on  our already stressed local infrastructure.

Such mitigation and updating completed before any expansion at Belmont Park is a necessity and not a luxury.

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