Belmont RFP Unveiled- State Rejects Housing at Site
In a major victory for Elmont and Floral Park residents concerned that any RFP would allow housing at Belmont, Empire State Development Corporation effectively threw cold water on the DOA idea. The New York State Franchise Oversight Board voted to move the Belmont RFP forward for action without a housing component for would be developers at the site.
The action by the State is being seen as a major win for Elmont and Floral Park community leaders concerned about the introduction of low income and/or workforce housing at the site. Specific concerns surrounding housing as site A and B were impacts to the Floral Park-Bellerose Elementary and Floral Park Memorial High School regarding site A. For Elmont, site B impacts would be felt by the Gotham Avenue and Elmont Memorial High School.
The RFP gives developers sixty days to submit a proposal to develop the property identified as sites “A and B” which is comprised of approximately 42 acres of land. The land identified by the Empire State Development Corporation is void of any kind of development.
“The RFP is a major win because it excludes housing at the property and calls for economic development that produces jobs and revenue. The kind of development that will come is the key to sparking revitalization of Hempstead Turnpike and promoting economic opportunity,” said Sandra Smith Chair of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development.
Floral Park Mayor Dominic Longobardi was very pleased that the idea of housing was out of the RFP document. “Housing was a specific concern for the Floral Park community and most of our neighbors. The key for Floral Park will be communication from developers. In addition, how their specific proposals impact the property and specific community benefits are areas we will be looking at and analyzing as the process moves forward. “
Locals note that absence of housing from the RFP may have been dealt a significant blow by remarks and comments from an open forum at the Elmont Public Library. During the comment opportunity, a small group of Elmont community members invoked incendiary language towards the listening panel and ESD representatives.
Longtime community member Patrick Nicolosi observed, “The forum was very productive with a lot of great ideas as well as give and take. The RFP clearly took into account what many of us spoke about during the forum. Those who tried to inject race and division in this process didn’t have substance to merit consideration and clearly ESD recognized that.”
Elmont School Board President Michael Jaime was elated that housing was struck from the final RFP document. “Housing was never a plan for this site, and to demand housing in a community that’s house rich is ridiculous. I am confident that the new RFP addresses all of the areas of concern.”
Elmont Chamber of Commerce President Paul Sapienza said, “I’m really pleased that we have an RFP that affords developers to be really creative and submit a plan that rejuvenates our community and provide real economic and job opportunities. This is an exciting time for the Hempstead Turnpike corridor.”
The new RFP has many mirror images to the previous one that was canceled late last year. It includes the two parcels as well some acreage near the Belmont Grandstand area. Developers can bid on a combination of areas. ESD noted that all RFP submissions must complement the existing tack and maximize economic benefit to the State. Further it specifically adds that locals in Elmont and Floral Park benefit from the development.
According to reports, the New York Islanders are ready to submit a proposal and have begun the process of looking at the proposed development site for their submission. Sources inform the Gateway-Bulletin papers that the Islanders are not only interested in the site, but are heartened by the RFP stipulation that uses to be considered by ESD are a sports field and recreation facility.
Nadia Holub-Oritz, a Floral Park Civic Association member, added, “Many have spoken in favor of building a sports arena. Although an arena would definitely provide high volume of employment opportunities for local residents, these positions would primarily be low-wage earining positions by nature of the enterprise.”
ESD CEO Howard Zemsky stated, “Belmont Park represents an exciting and much anticipated development opportunity on Long Island .”
Senator Todd Kaminsky said, the “Belmont community looks forward to reviewing the exciting and innovative proposals, and expects to have their voice heard as this process moves forward.”
Senator Elaine Phillips noted, “it’s time for the untapped potential of Belmont Park to be realized and for ESD to review proposals that will enhance the existing horse racing industry while bringing new jobs and opportunities.”