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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

Belmont arena approval (and opening?) nudged back, AKRF contract extended; Newsday argues that Belmont needed to keep Isles

Belmont Park arena project to be delayed, reported Long Island Business News yesterday, and while the Final Environmental Impact Statement and thus construction start have been delayed past the once-projected spring date, that doesn't necessarily mean the arena can't open in 2021. But it does raise question marks.

As noted in the article, the board of Empire State Development voted yesterday to extend the contract of AKRF, the authority's go-to environmental consultant,  for one year, through September 2020. That reflects more extensive comments than typical, with the need to respond to them, as well as other factors, as noted below.

According to ESD Board Materials (p. 325 ff.), the original two-year contract term was extended, and the original contract amount, not to exceed $2 million, was amended with a $950,000 fee and a $300,000 contingency. The developer, which includes the New York Islanders and partners, funds the environmental review.

The Board Materials note that, of three firms listed on ESD’s list of Pre-Qualified Consultants, "two responded, with one of the other firms joining the AKRF team as a subconsultant. ESD staff reviewed the proposals and recommended the retention of AKRF based on the firm’s quality of the proposal, knowledge and expertise, vast experiences in preparing SEQRA-compliant documentation, proposal rate, and many years of satisfactory performance on similar work for ESD." (Here's some skepticism on AKRF.)

Reason for expansion

From the Board Materials:
Since the time of the original contract approval in September 2017 there have been a number of changes to AKRF’s scope of work as the Project has evolved. The key factors driving the changes in the scope and cost for the EIS include: (i) changes to the Project’s site plan and Project area, including parking locations; (ii) additional traffic analyses to account for later game start time, removal of night racing from the no-build, additional analysis locations, and shared parking demand; (iii) natural resource assessment; (iv) preparation of a fiscal impact analysis; (v) quantified construction analysis; and additional alternative scenarios. The above tasks have also resulted in the need for extensive additional management, coordination and support by AKRF.
In addition to the additional scope items identified above, certain efforts exceeded the original contract scope, including: (i) an extended scoping comment period and volume of comments beyond what was originally estimated; (ii) additional graphics production due to site plan modifications; (iii) project team meetings almost three times the original scope estimate; and (iv) three days of public hearing instead of the typical one afternoon-evening.
Newsday columnist: Belmont needed

Yesterday, Newsday columnist Randi Marshall wrote Without Belmont, goodbye Isles, arguing that the Islanders need a larger, more modern home for "the team to invest in itself, attract talent and build a Stanley Cup contender."

To the Nassau Coliseum, at least without a major upgrade, won't qualify. That means the new Belmont arena is necessary, and the larger development "could give the region its own economically vibrant destination with jobs, added tax revenue, and new visitors ready to spend money in the area.

Marshall pushes back on the "anti-corporatist cloud that mushroomed during the Amazon debate," saying it doesn't threaten only the team but also the "Island’s economic future." Maybe.

But Newsday also has brushed off the question of whether Belmont would threaten the Coliseum.