By Naeisha Rose
The Belmont Park Redevelopment, a $1 billion development project to build a hockey stadium for the New York Islanders by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), is raising concerns about the impact the development would have on traffic in the already bustling corridor.
The proposed location for the project is near the busy Cross Island, Southern State and Belt parkways and Hempstead Turnpike, according to Mimi Pierre Johnson, an activist and former realtor that lives near the development sites.
The development sites for the project are underutilized parking lots from the Belmont’s equine racecourse, which is situated between Hempstead Avenue and Cross Island Parkway in Elmont, just a few miles away from Springfield Boulevard in Queens.
According to the traffic study conducted by ESDC, the Hempstead Avenue and Springfield Boulevard intersection is a “high crash” location based on crash data reviews from the last three years.
However, ESDC believes that roadway improvements planned by the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) have the potential to enhance traffic and pedestrian safety.
Hempstead Avenue is also a considered a priority corridor by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which examines different streetways in order to see where there are high-traffic areas in order to implement ways to reduce pedestrian and vehicular accidents.
Tammie Williams, an Elmont resident and the co-founder of the Belmont Park Community Coalition, which has been protesting the site, is not for the development at all.
“This is not smart growth,” said Williams. “Arenas and stadiums are not economic boons, that is just data across America.”
According to a research study by the Federal Reserve in St. Louis called “The Economics of Subsidizing Sports Stadiums,” 83 percent of economists agreed, “‘providing state and local subsidies to build stadiums for professional sports teams is likely to cost the relevant taxpayers more than any local economic benefits that are generated.'”
If the project was approved, ESDC would make a $40 million payment instead of paying taxes on a 49-year lease, and rent would be supplemented based on attendance at the stadium with a minimum of $1 million annually, according to officials. The other lessees would be granted 10-25 year tax abatements for the hotel, mall and other amenities that come with the redevelopment.
The benefits that supporters claim will outweigh the negative impacts of the development may not be as robust as they would have people believe.
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