Skip to main content

Featured Post

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

Newsday: full-time LIRR station now being studied to serve Belmont; Newsday digs into (seeming) anti-Belmont group

Newsday 4/3/19 offered a mini-scoop, Full-time LIRR station under study for Belmont Park, sources say. As Jim Baumbach wrote:
The new station would be attached to the LIRR’s main line, just north of Belmont Park, and would allow people traveling from the east to take the train directly to Belmont.
The current Belmont Park station operates only during horse racing season and is a spur off the main line, accessible only from Jamaica. Riders from the east must go to Jamaica and transfer to a train to Belmont.
This would be an enormous new investment and, as Baumbach wrote, many unknowns remain, including the cost and the source of financing. (I wrote about this issue last June for CityLab.) If taxpayers pay, of course, it could be seen as a massive giveaway to the operators of the planned arena.

Update: a cautiously supportive editorial

Newsday, in a 4/7/19 editorial headlined Belmont stop on Main Line is worth a careful look, opined:
Then there’s the issue of paying for it. The financially stressed MTA can’t be expected to foot the whole bill. So, the players behind this project, including Sterling Project Development and the New York Islanders, would have to pay for a lot of it directly, or try other financing methods, such as one that uses the developer’s future revenues and property value increases to pay for public projects.
Digging into anti-Belmont group

I recently wrote about a revelation that the arena deal seemed even more wired than obvious, given percolating plans for such an arena, and wondered whether Newsday, the dominant Long Island newspaper, would pay attention.

It hasn't, but it did 4/2/19 publish a tough--though not illegitimate--investigation headlined New anti-Belmont group has $650G in funding, noting:
Elmont Against the Megamall, which wants to kill the development, is operated by a West Hollywood, California-based marketing firm, New York State records show. The group, which is registered as a "domestic nonprofit" in California, also is working with lobbyist Michael McKeon, who was a staff member for former New York Gov. George Pataki.
According to filings with the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the Elmont group gets its funding from Citizens for Responsible Community based in Warrenton, Virginia. The civic group received $400,000 in September 2018 and $250,000 in December 2018, according to disclosure statements.
Interestingly enough, the article contains a notably pointed quote from... your government:
Jack Sterne, spokesman for Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the Belmont project, questioned the legitimacy of Elmont Against the Megamall.
"It's clear that this faceless 'opposition group' isn’t listening to the community, and exists solely to promote its own interests and peddle propaganda," Sterne said. "Fortunately, the Elmont community is far too smart and engaged to be tricked by anonymous big-money interests,"
It's legitimate, of course, to point out that the group seems astroturf. That said, as Eyes on Isles pointed out, the group's web site seems to support the arena and support a new full-service train station, which is surely in sync with the interest of hockey fans.

A recusal on MTA board

Note: the MTA has some new board members, as Newsday's Randi Marshall noted in a 4/1/19 Point column, Shuffling the deck, including Haeda Mihaltses, VP of external affairs for the New York Mets and also a rep of Sterling Project Development, the team's real-estate company.

So she's involved with the Belmont arena project--but maybe just from one end. As per Politico's Dana Rubenstein (paywalled):
A new appointee to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board will recuse herself from votes pertaining to the Islanders' new development at Belmont Park, following a request by a local community group.
Haeda Mihaltses, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, currently works as the director of external affairs for Sterling Project Development, according to a letter from the Belmont Park Community Coalition to Foye, released today.
And that company is working as a partner on the arena.