On Sept. 25, funding to pay for the new $105 million Long Island Rail Road Elmont Station for the Islanders Belmont Park Arena was officially amended into the existing Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s ongoing $33 billion 2015-2019 Five-Year Capital Plan.
The source of funding comes from the Empire State Development Corporation transferring $105 million from their budget to the MTA, which will pay for the new Elmont LIRR Station. Board members rubber-stamped this action by voting in favor with no discussion.
They were unaware and couldn’t care about two ongoing lawsuits against the Islanders Belmont Arena
It is interesting that Gov. Cuomo has manipulated the MTA funding process using one state agency budget to help another fund a project. He is robbing Peter to pay Paul.
At the end of the day, it is all the taxpayers’ money. The developers are putting in $30 million upfront and the state $75 million. The developers will then make payments, without interest, to reimburse the state over the next 30 years.
The developer ends up with an interest-free loan. Could a small business person get the same sweetheart deal? They would have to go to a bank and pay interest charges for a similar loan.
The next step would be for the Albany based MTA four-person MTA Capital Program Review Board to also adopt this amendment.
Completion of these actions will legally allow the LIRR to proceed with construction of the new Elmont LIRR Station now rather than wait for adoption of the new $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan by end of December.
With 25 months left before the scheduled opening of the new Arena, it will remain a challenge for the LIRR to complete various capital improvements.
These include the eastbound platform (serving the Hempstead branch) for the new Elmont Station, in time to coincide with the promised fall 2021 opening of the Arena.
It will also be interesting if we can learn about the internal LIRR schedule on behalf of the ESDC for advancement of design and engineering, procurement process, award of construction contract followed by a notice to proceed, contractor mobilization and detailed project construction schedule with interim progress milestones to validate the promised completion of the new Elmont Station and other related transportation improvements.
(Larry Penner is a transportation historian, writer and advocate who previously worked 31 years for the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office.