$1 billion Islanders Belmont Park arena could begin digging in May if community concerns are allayed

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belmont park protest
Protest image from the Belmont Park Community Coalition Facebook page

When will construction start for the new New York Islanders’ estimated $1 billion Belmont Park arena?

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky recently told Newsday that he expects work to commence next May, adding that he is taking the community’s concerns “very seriously.”

These concerns could be a roadblock to the development, or not a major concern, depending on the speaker and organization.

“I think when you’re building a project of that scale, you want to make sure all the different groups have input, whether it’s business groups, community groups, residents,” Ledecky said in the Newsday interview.

“I have taken tours of every single town in and around the arena,” he said. “We don’t publicize that. But I’ve worked with the mayors and I’ve been meeting with my colleagues and them. I feel very positive about the support that we’re receiving in the community.”

“I think we take the feedback from the community very seriously.”

Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) officials say an environmental impact report is due before May, 2019. The development agency says in a statement that it has “fostered robust community engagement at every step of the Belmont Park redevelopment process, and the project has been refined and improved as a result.

“Through community meetings, and careful review and response to all public comments, we have and will continue to listen to those who will be most affected by this project,” ESDC says. The New York Islanders and all of our development partners share our interest in hearing from the community as we engage a variety of stakeholders throughout this process.”

belmont park redevelopment
Belmont Park redevelopment rendering (from Empire State Development)

Newsday reported that in early October approximately 100 Floral Park residents attended a village meeting in which Mayor Dominick Longobardi said the project is “way too big” and warned that it could negatively impact their way of life. (The publication also reported that Longobardi has met with Ledecky and the two have exchanged phone numbers, adding that Ledecky is “a phenomenal guy” for his efforts to get to know the area and involve the Islanders in activities such as local sports organizations.)

However, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who represents the Belmont Park Community Coalition, an umbrella group of neighboring civic organizations and advocates that oppose the Belmont Park sports and entertainment development, told Newsday that Ledecky has not reached out to them.

“He says he’s met with the mayors and toured the towns, but what about the residents who have serious and substantial concerns about how this is going to impact them?” Siegel said. Siegel also said the coalition, which met with ESDC during the summer, is planning a rally to oppose the arena.

“The Belmont Park Community Coalition has been very visible and vocal for many months now,” Siegel was quoted as saying. “It would be good if the record matches the rhetoric. There’s still time.”

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