Floral Park mayor says dispute over parcel near Belmont Park resolved

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Floral Park mayor says dispute over parcel near Belmont Park resolved
Floral Park Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said construction activity took place multiple times on a small parcel of land near residents that was not previously specified in plans.(Photo courtesy of the New York Islanders Hockey Club)

Floral Park Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said last week that the village has resolved a dispute with the Belmont Park Redevelopment Project over a small undeveloped parcel.

In a letter to residents, he said the village had received complaints that the developers were doing unspecified construction on the parcel. 

Fitzgerald said it has been a priority to maintain and preserve a small property that connects the end of Crocus Avenue, Floral Park-Bellerose School’s playground and the north lot of Belmont Park. This area keeps a buffer between local residents and park attendees, expected to increase when the new Belmont Arena opens in the coming weeks for New York Islanders games. Concerts and other events are also going to be hosted at the arena, adding to traffic in the area.

The mayor said construction in the area violated the Empire State Development Corp.’s environmental impact statement, finalized in 2019, that said the area would be untouched and residents would be given privacy screening along the border of part of the north lot. 

Efforts to reach the developers for comment were unavailing.

The village contacted state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont), who suggested that the area, called “the Triangle,” be maintained with greenery, as it has been for years, and that the school be allowed an easement in parts of the preserved area for class use.

In his letter, Fitzgerald wrote that the village “was recently informed by ESD that it had confirmed the Triangle would be completely fenced in so as to prevent access from the North Lot.” 

Plans for the Belmont Park Redevelopment Project were revealed during the later half of 2017. The UBS Arena broke ground in September 2019 and construction resumed in May after a delay due to COVID-19. The Islanders’ home opener is set for Saturday, Nov. 20. 

Despite assurances from developers, Fitzgerald said, construction at “the Triangle” continued, and Kaplan had to intercede again. She was able to have New York’s Franchise Oversight Board issue a notice to developers saying the parcel is owned by the state and the New York Racing Authority. The directive ended further activity on the  parcel, Fitzgerald said. 

In the past, Floral Park officials have complained that the Belmont Park project failed to take local concerns into account.

Floral Park filed a lawsuit in September 2019 asking a judge to overturn all approvals, stop construction on the site and restart the environmental review process, citing a “flawed” public bidding process and “inadequate” environmental review, according to documents.  A state Supreme Court justice dismissed the suit in May 2020. 

Once the UBS Arena is fully open, the redevelopment plan will continue with construction of a  parking garage along Hempstead Turnpike and the new Elmont LIRR station.

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