I want to take this opportunity to address a recent issue regarding the Belmont Redevelopment Plan and subsequent news articles that have appeared in many publications.
Since the Village moved forward with the option to file an Article 78 Proceeding regarding the Belmont Redevelopment project, a number of news articles have taken liberty with events that have occurred in an attempt to link them to our actions regarding this filing. While I usually do not comment on such frivolous and obvious politically-motivated actions, I am compelled to single out one incident that in my opinion is completely without merit.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran recently called for an investigation regarding an incident whereby the Nassau County Police Helicopter was used to view the Belmont Park Complex and on-going-construction as part of discussions for a new and improved evacuation plan for our children and staff at the Floral Park- Bellerose Elementary School. The historical and current plan called for our children and staff to evacuate the building through the school yard and through the rear access gates into the North Parking lot of Belmont Park should an incident occur that required evacuation of the building. With the construction already proceeding, no new plan was in place and construction may have impeded access to that North Lot, thereby potentially placing our children and staff in danger.
Since the Floral Park Police Department would be the lead agency should an evacuation be ordered and, in an effort to gain proper information, our Police Department contacted the Nassau County PD and requested the use of the NCPD helicopter for aerial surveillance of the school and Belmont properties. As always and this is something we are always grateful for, the NCPD responded to our FP Police Department with their full cooperation and assistance. I would add that the cooperation came speedily and without question as our agencies have always worked closely together and have built a trust and genuine concern for those they protect and serve.
I urge our County Executive Laura Curran to take a lesson from this. This is not a political “stunt” on the part of our Village regarding the Development at Belmont Park as she and the Governor’s office have said a number of times. We have undertaken this action to protect our great Village. The safety and security of the people we serve are of the utmost importance. The care and consideration given to the FPPD, our new school Superintendent Dr. Sottile and our community by the NCPD and its officers should be applauded, not criticized. I would also beg to differ in the categorization of Dr. Sottile as a “civilian”. While she may technically be for this purpose, the fact that she is the Superintendent of our Schools and charged with the safety and security of our children and staff in her charge should carry some weight at the very least. I would remind our County Executive that the use of equipment paid for by every taxpayer in this County and the judgement of the professionals who oversee it should be appreciated and promoted for forethought and cooperation as she and the Governor so preach all the time. And finally, I want to emphasize this point again. Given the tragedies our Country has faced, the safety and security of the children and staff at Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary School or any other school in the County are of the utmost importance and the use of resources to help prevent any type of issue that would cause harm, should be encouraged and supported.