The developers and state agencies overseeing the Islanders arena project at Belmont Park asked last Friday for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the Village of Floral Park.
Jack Sterne, a spokesman for Empire State Development, a state agency overseeing the project, said in an email that the Belmont Redevelopment Project went through a transparent, public process that adhered to all requirements under state law.
“The Village of Floral Park’s lawsuit is, in essence, an attempt to stop the project simply because the village doesn’t like it – despite broad support from other community stakeholders and ESD’s full compliance with the law,” Sterne said.
He continued, “We will continue to vigorously defend the state’s actions so we can move forward with this project, which will deliver thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity to Nassau County.”
Floral Park filed an Article 78 lawsuit last month asking a judge to overturn all approvals, stop construction on the site and restart the environmental review process. In documents filed in the lawsuit, the village called the public bidding process flawed and the environmental review inadequate and said the project did not mitigate negative impacts on the village.
Concerns have been raised by the village over the project’s impact on traffic, the influx of people coming into Floral Park for Islander games, Floral Park becoming a “soft target” for terrorism, propane cylinders being installed for the project and the location of a new LIRR station at the north parking lot of Belmont Park to support the project.
In documents filed in court, Steven Russo, an attorney for the agency, said ESD responded in its final environmental impact statement to all substantive comments that were made during the public hearings for the draft environmental impact statement.
Russo said that some of the changes made after concerns were heard about the draft were a reduction in retail space, an increase in the size (but not the seating capacity) of the arena to include additional amenities to enhance hospitality, a new screened fence along the northeastern boundary of the north parking lot from the LIRR tracks near Floral Park-Bellerose School to approximately Mayfair Avenue with eight-foot hedges planted along the school’s fence rather than the previous limited buffer along the north lot perimeter, and revisions to accommodate bus pull-outs and bus shelters on each side of Hempstead Turnpike.
Empire State Development even moved a deadline for the final environmental impact statement from July 23 to Aug. 1 for a minor error which it was not required by law to do, Russo wrote.
Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said the village and its legal team are reviewing the documents filed by Empire State Development, New York State Arena Partners and the Franchise Oversight Board. He said that the calls for dismissal were “a matter of routine.”
Longobardi said he hopes the court will review the village’s filing “on its merits.”