The Empire State Development Corp. told a group of local activists that the Long Island Rail Road is evaluating the existing rail infrastructure at the Belmont Park station to see how service can be improved to accommodate the expected influx of riders with the new arena project.
The railroad evaluation will be complete by the end of September, the corporation told activists at the July 18 meeting at the Elmont Public Library.
Tammie Williams, co-organizer of the Belmont Park Community Coalition, said representatives from the Empire State Development Corp. walked out and left activists with questions regarding the train improvements.
They also advised Williams to “stop reaching out to the MTA and LIRR for answers,” and to instead reach out directly to the Empire State Development, she said.
LIRR spokeswoman Sarah Armaghan said in a statement that the Long Island Rail Road is “committed and will continue to work with the ESD and the developers as this project progresses.”
According to the Empire State Development Corp., the coalition previously agreed on a format of the meeting.
The agreed upon format included the state representatives leaving after the presentation so the coalition could have an internal discussion, according to the Empire State Development Corp.
Questions submitted in advance to the meeting were addressed, according to the corporation.
There have also been four public meetings and forums, 12 community tours and smaller community meetings, 11 meetings with the Belmont Community Advisory Committee and elected officials and ongoing communications with elected officials and other government agencies.
The Empire State Development Corp. has used community meetings to ensure “robust community engagement at every step of the Belmont Park redevelopment process and is committed to continuing to do so,” spokeswoman Amy Varghese said.
“The Belmont project has already been altered in response to robust public input, and as the public review process progresses, ESD will continue to identify ways to enhance the project in consultation with the community,” Varghese said.
The project centers around an 18,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders, set to be complete by the 2021-22 hockey season. It also includes a 435,000-square-foot retail center and a 250-room hotel.
The project is currently in middle of the public and environmental review process.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the project in December, he also said there would be improved service to the station to accommodate the increase in ridership.
Trains currently only run to the station on race days.