I hope this message finds you and your families well.
The recent issuance of details regarding the proposed development at Belmont Park are a constant and continuous cause for concern as the plans remain fluid. The Village Board and the Belmont Task Force have been working to obtain correct and current information that will enable our Village residents and businesses to plan and work to protect our quality of life.
Several changes to the various plans offered have taken place based upon concerns raised by our residents and our neighboring communities. Specifically affecting our Village, these changes include the following:
- The proposed hotel has been moved to just south in the middle of the grandstand and lowered to approximately 150 feet from 250 feet.
- The proposed electric sub-station will be moved away from the borders of the school and residential properties.
- The North Lot, the lot adjacent to the Floral Park-Bellerose School and our residents, will be used only for “over-flow” parking.
I want to thank the Empire State Development Corporation and New York Arena Partners for continuing to work with our community to ensure that our concerns are considered and addressed.
While these proposed changes are a move in the right direction, they do not address the inherent problems of increased traffic, safety and security and the size of the proposed development. These items must be the basis of all studies and reviews that are part of the SEQRA process.
The current configuration calls for the reviews of traffic patterns within a one-half (1/2) mile radius of the site. In order to properly assess traffic pattern and conditions the Village has requested that the traffic study radius be at three (3) miles. This will provide a true and accurate picture for traffic coming to and from the proposed arena & shopping facilities. Additionally, this will allow the study to examine primary, secondary and tertiary roadway systems and how they will be affected. This will give a true and proper picture of what appear to be significant increases of traffic in our community. There is a thought that the current configuration of roadway systems cannot handle the proposed traffic that the size of this development will draw.
Based on responses by the Empire State Development Corp and New York Arena Partners at the recently held Q & A session, the traffic study is of vital importance as it may indicate a larger issue, which is the size of the development. By admission of the developers, we are looking at the possibility of daily attendance to the facilities as follows:
- 12,000 – 18,000 people at the arena
- 5,000 – 15,000 people at the retail stores
- 5,000 – 7,000 at the restaurants, hotel & venues
- 5,000 – 7, 000 at Belmont Park
Therefore, 27,000 – 47,000 people can be expected on any given day of 200 plus days per year. At peak times, with a sold-out event held at night, shopping occurring, patrons at restaurants and other venues and hotel guests coming and going after work, the figures stated could reflect the maximum. The upper expectation is the equivalent of attendance at a non-Triple Crown Belmont Stakes Day. Add to this the fact that the future of how NYRA will be redeveloped is still unknown. Using this example, the bulk of movement in and around the arena will happen during the peak evening rush hours when our roads and surrounding roadways are at capacity. This could create serious quality of life issues. While this is speculative and formal studies have not been completed to provide specific data, extrapolating these numbers in a conservative manner, the conclusion that very real traffic issues will affect our village is not inconceivable.
This boils down to the following, the size of the development of this project should be re-thought. The 18,000 seat Arena, the 435,000 square feet of retail space, an “up-to” 250 key hotel and various other amenities are, in our opinion, too large of a development to be squeezed into the space available and the surrounding infrastructure that supports it. Parking issues inclusive of the North Lot, traffic, LIRR development, inadequate roadway systems, utility requirements, environmental concerns, etc. should all be addressed in detail prior to any approval given by the state for this development. It should be noted that these issues will affect us and our neighboring communities as well. With correct and accurate data from the required studies, the correct and “right-size” of the development can be addressed. “Right-size” development is what is needed in order to have success of any development at Belmont Park. The Village continues to focus its energies and ensure any development at Belmont Park is the “right-size” to ensure our continued and improved quality of life.