City DOT will expand review of Belmont redevelopment impacts

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An artist's rendering of the Belmont Arena development. (Photo courtesy of New York Arena Partners)

The New York City Department of Transportation will perform an expanded traffic impact study for the areas surrounding the Belmont redevelopment project.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, in a Jan. 17 letter replying to City Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Councilman Barry Grodenchik, said that although the department is already reviewing the Queens and Nassau County border in regard to the project, the study’s scope will increase to include issues the men identified in a letter in December.

Queens residents deserved to have their voices heard on this critical redevelopment project,” Stringer said in a statement. “The city’s swift and receptive response shows what happens when communities come together to protect the quality of life for eastern Queens’ families and the environment.”

Representatives of Empire State Development, which proposed the project, were not available for comment.

The expanded study will include the analysis of six intersections adjacent to areas affected by increased traffic congestion, according to the initial letter sent by Stringer and Grodenchik.

Grodenchik spoke briefly at the last of the Belmont draft environmental impact study hearings, citing transportation as a significant concern.

The proposed redevelopment of Belmont Park began over a year ago. The development would include a new 19,000-seat arena for the NHL’s New York Islanders, 435,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and a movie theater, a 150-foot tall hotel and more than 7,000 parking spots.

The arena would also host up to 145 non-NHL events each year, possibly bringing Belmont Stakes day level attendance, according to community groups opposed to the redevelopment.

In his original letter, Stringer asked that the Transportation Department independently review the impact statement’s findings regarding peak trip times, modal share between mass transit and vehicular usage and analysis of intersections that would be significantly affected by traffic congestion.

Though the state controls the process, Stringer said, it is imperative that the city issue comments on the study before a final decision is made.

The Transportation Department has previously stated that neighborhoods adjoining and surrounding stadiums, like Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, are qualified for a Residential Parking Permit program, according to Stringer.

In her letter, Trottenberg said that as the department testified at a previous City Council hearing, residential parking permit programs require state legislative authorization, and cautioned that programs of that nature in New York City “can be difficult to manage and the potential benefits are limited.”

Last Wednesday, the New York Racing Association, or NYRA, announced in a news release that President and CEO Chris Kay’s resignation had been accepted by the organization’s board of directors.

NYRA is responsible for the operation of the Belmont race track, which could receive upgrades if the Belmont redevelopment plan is approved.

The association did not disclose why Kay resigned. Efforts to reach NYRA were unavailing.

 

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