NYC Comptroller calls for independent review of Belmont Arena project

Jed Hendrixson
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has asked the city Department of Transportation to take a closer look at Empire State Development’s plans for redeveloping Belmont Park.

In a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Stringer outlined the specifications of the project and in particular six intersections that are located in Queens that would experience negative impacts as a result of the development.

“DOT’s review of the Nassau/Queens Interface Transportation Study includes Jamaica and Hempstead Avenues, the two corridors identified in the original Environmental Impact Assessment,” a DOT spokesman said in a statement. “While the original study did not specifically address the issues raised in the Comptroller’s letter, we are adjusting the scope to incorporate that feedback for review.”

Not only are the intersections insufficient to gauge the true impact of the project on Queens neighborhoods, they are also largely under the jurisdiction of the DOT and not the state, Stringer said.

“A project of this magnitude will have far-ranging impacts on these neighborhoods, with the potential to significantly increase congestion,” Stringer said.

The six intersections are located primarily on Jamaica Avenue, Hempstead Avenue and Springfield Boulevard. The intersections are all within close proximity to the Cross Island Parkway, which ESD’s draft environmental impact study said would see significant congestion impacts.

Empire State Development representatives were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The proposed redevelopment of Belmont Park into a larger commercial space began over a year ago. The development would include a new, 19,000 seat arena home venue for the NHL’s New York Islanders, 435,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and a movie theater, a 150-foot tall hotel and more than 7,000 parking spots.

The arena would also host up to 145 non-NHL events each year, possibly bringing Belmont Stakes day level attendance, according to community groups opposed to the redevelopment.

“The interplay between the redevelopment plan and the existing facility will undoubtedly affect not only the Nassau County region, but Queens communities as well,” Stringer said.

In the letter, Stringer asks that the DOT independently review the DEIS’s findings regarding peak trip times, modal share between mess transit and vehicular usage and analyzation of intersections that would be significantly impacted by traffic congestion. Though the state controls the process, Stringer said, it is imperative that the city issue comments on the study before a final decision is made.

DOT has previously stated that neighborhoods adjoining and surrounding stadiums, like Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, are qualified for a Residential Parking Permit program, according to Stringer.

Following the approval of the DEIS by Empire State Development’s board earlier this month, a Proposed General Project Plan was adopted.

Three public hearings are scheduled as a part of the next phase of the project.

Elmont Memorial Library will host all three public hearings, the first on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the second Jan. 9 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and the last Jan. 10 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Written comments can be submitted until Feb. 11. Copies of the DEIS are available for public review at the library, as well as Floral Park Public Library and Queens libraries in Bellerose, Queens Village and Cambria Heights.



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