The development and construction of a 19,000-seat home arena for the New York Islanders and 435,000 square-foot megamall on the grounds of Belmont Park is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Belmont Arena draft environmental impact study was released last week by the Empire State Development Corp.
One village that will face adverse effects of the new development, if approved, is the Village of Floral Park where some residents are concerned about their quality of life within the village. In a letter that was posted on the Village of Floral Park’s website, presidents of the village’s North End, West End, South Side and Hillcrest Civic Associations wrote about their concerns.
“The current proposed scope of the project is too large and incompatible with the existing suburban character of the communities that surround Belmont Park, including Floral Park,” stated the letter in part. “…The significant increase in traffic that will accompany the projected additional 45,000 daily visitors to the site, which is approximately the amount of the attendance at the Belmont Stakes when a Triple Crown [contender] is not at stake, will overwhelm the roadways in Floral Park and negatively impact our police and emergency vehicle response times.”
The environmental impact study stated that out of the 38 intersections that were analyzed, the proposed project would result in significant adverse traffic impacts at five intersections during the weekday morning peak hours and six intersections during the weekday evening peak hours. Other intersections during the weekends would also be negatively impacted.
The study acknowledges that the proposed project would result in an increase in traffic volumes on the roadways in local street networks and at intersections within the study area. Local highways such as the Cross Island Parkway, which borders Belmont, would experience traffic delays and congestion as well.
“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.”
During the construction phase, temporary lane and/or sidewalk closures may be required along Hempstead Turnpike adjacent to the project sites to facilitate construction of one or more grade-separated connections, and utility connections and sidewalk improvement. The placement of the spans for a pedestrian bridge across the Hempstead Turnpike would be anticipated to require limited full lane closures in both directions, which would likely occur during the night.
In October, the Village of Floral Park held an information session packed with concerned residents and local elected officials.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald, who is also the Belmont Task Force chair, introduced the term “scope creep” to the audience’s vocabulary saying that the Belmont redevelopment plan started with the building of the Islanders’ arena, but morphed into something much bigger with more retail space and a bus terminal. Fitzgerald raised concerns about how the redevelopment project has started to creep onto Belmont’s north parking lot, which borders Floral Park-Bellerose School and the village’s quiet residential West End.
Following the vote of approval, Empire State Development will move forward with the arena project. The Empire State Development has scheduled three public hearings at Elmont Memorial Library, which starts on Tuesday, Jan. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. The second public hearing will be on Wednesday, Jan. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. followed by the last hearing on Thursday, Jan. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m. Written comments about the study can be submitted until Monday, Feb. 11.
To read the environmental study in its entirety, visit www.esd.ny.gov/belmont-park-redevelopment-project-deis.