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Belmont Park Arena Backers Seek to Dismiss Lawsuit

New Islanders Arena

Developers of an upcoming Belmont Park arena for the New York Islanders are seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that aims to stop construction, making the request to a judge Friday.

Under a plan that has been in the works for a few years, an estimated $1.26-billion development on state land at Belmont Park will be anchored by the new arena. The project is led by New York Arena Partners, which includes Islanders ownership, Sterling Project Development (controlled by New York Mets owners), and arena developer Oak View Group. The project’s current scope calls for a 19,000-capacity arena to be the centerpiece of surrounding development that includes a 250-room hotel, 350,000 square feet of retail space, and more.

Last month, the Village of Floral Park–which is adjacent to Belmont Park–filed a lawsuit against the developers, Empire State Development, and the New York State Franchise Oversight Board. In the lawsuit, the village alleges that the bidding process for development rights to the land was flawed, and that an environmental impact statement failed to fully analyze the implications of a full-time Long Island Rail Road Station that will be built to support the project. New York Arena Partners asked a state judge on Friday to dismiss the case, while Empire State Development and the New York State Franchise Oversight Board filed their own requests in state Supreme Court the same day. More from Newsday:

A spokesman for New York Arena Partners, in response to a request for comment, referred to their court papers in which attorney Mylan Denerstein wrote, “There is simply no legal basis to hold this project up.”…

Empire State Development, the state agency responsible for selecting the Islanders group as the winning bid in December 2017 and overseeing the environmental review process, said in court papers that the Village of Floral Park has been “an unalterable and steadfast foe” of the project.

“As our filing makes clear, the Belmont Redevelopment Project went through a transparent, public process that adhered to all requirements under state law,” ESD spokesman Jack Sterne said. “The Village of Floral Park’s lawsuit is, in essence, an attempt to stop the project simply because the village doesn’t like it – despite broad support from other community stakeholders and ESD’s full compliance with the law.”

The other motion to dismiss the lawsuit was filed by the Franchise Oversight Board, a state agency that oversees horse racing at Belmont and technically sold the Belmont property to ESD to facilitate the project.

Through the lawsuit, Floral Park is seeking to overturn all approvals granted to the project, halt work at the site, and ensure that the environmental review process is relaunched. In an email to Newsday, Floral Park attorney Michael Murphy stated that they “will respond in due course and vigorously defend the Village’s claims and its right to protect its residents and community from the severe impacts this project poses.”

Despite the legal challenges, project officials moved forward with a groundbreaking ceremony last month and work is currently taking place at the site. The Islanders are aiming to complete the arena in time for the 2021-22 NHL season.

Rendering courtesy New York Arena Partners LLC.

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