Floral Park seeking judicial review for Belmont project

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Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said that while the village has authorized filing a lawsuit that they want to speak with the governor first. Cuomo's office responded that a meeting with a state representative is already scheduled. (Photo courtesy of New York Arena Partners)

The Village of Floral Park said Tuesday that it is seeking judicial review of the approval of the Belmont Park redevelopment project in state Supreme Court.

In a newsletter, the village said that on Monday the village “commenced an article 78 proceeding in the Supreme Court of the State of New York” into the project’s approval by Empire State Development, a state agency.

An Article 78 proceeding is used to appeal the decision of a state or local agency to the New York courts, according to LawNY.

“The village was compelled to take this step because ESD failed to address the concerns of our residents and failed to mitigate the very real consequences to our village that will result from the massive size and scope of the project,” Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said in the newsletter.

Jack Sterne, a spokesman for Empire State Development, which is overseeing the project, said that the agency cannot comment on potential litigation, but said that the agency has been transparent, open to public comments and has adhered to all state laws.

“This project has gone through a transparent, public process over multiple years, and has adhered to all requirements under state law,” he said. “We look forward to moving forward with this project, which will deliver thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity to Nassau County.”

The project includes a 19,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders, 350,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a hotel containing 250 rooms and parking on 43 acres of vacant state-owned property at Belmont Park.

Concerns have been raised by the village over the project’s impact on traffic, the constant influx of commuters 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.

With the project’s construction plans being approved by the state’s Franchise Oversight Board on Aug. 13, Sterne said that the project will move forward.

Longobardi said at a village board meeting on Sept. 3 that the village had authorized filing a lawsuit over the Belmont Arena project but wanted to speak with the governor first. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office responded that a meeting with a state representative was already scheduled for this month.

Representatives from the governor’s office said in an interview last week that a Sept. 16 meeting with state Budget Director Robert Mujica has been scheduled since August.

“We have been engaged in conversations with the mayor for months and, in late August, a meeting with the budget director was scheduled for mid-September,” Cuomo spokesman Jason Conwall said. “We are looking forward to that meeting but since the mayor clearly forgot about it, we hope he shows up.”

Longobardi said that he was aware of the meeting and was critical of the statement released by Cuomo’s office, saying “it was totally wrong” in how it characterized his knowledge of the meeting.

Longobardi said that his call at the village meeting was an attempt to meet with state representatives sooner because “preliminary work” is underway at the project area.

At the Sept. 3 village board meeting, Longobardi said the board had voted to authorize filing a lawsuit to stop the project, but first wanted to sit down and meet with Cuomo.

Longobardi did not mention having a scheduled meeting with the state budget director during the Sept. 3 meeting. But he said in a brief interview on Tuesday that village officials would attend the meeting with Mujica.

The mayor said that he has been sent aerial shots of the park showing holes being dug in the ground and the original parking beginning to be dug up. The only thing that hasn’t started is the actual construction of the project, Longobardi said. He did not share the photos.

About a potential meeting with Cuomo, Longobardi said there were “no updates” and that the village and the governor’s office are still “kicking things back and forth.”

A “groundbreaking” ceremony for the project is set for this month with no official date, according to Newsday.

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