Elmont State Senators Jack Martins and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos announced their support today for a casino at Belmont Racetrack which fits with Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development’s plan for revitalization of the Hempstead Turnpike corridor and Belmont. The move by Elmont’s State Senators is being hailed as critical support for revitalization of Elmont and surrounding communities. Local community leaders are also hailing the move as the first time that elected officials are “fighting in Elmont’s corner for jobs and revitalization.”
The announcement by Martins and Skelos comes as a result of Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and New York Islanders Owner Charles Wang announcing plans for the hub in Nassau and their support for a casino at Belmont. Mangano was joined by business, community and labor leaders in announcing the major Economic Development and Job Creation Plan to build a world-class sports-entertainment destination center in the heart of Nassau County which includes a new sports arena and a minor league ballpark. Mangano also formally announced that he will be teaming with Skelos and Martins in pursuing the construction of an Indian gaming casino at Belmont.
The County Executive's plan calls for an Indian gaming casino at Belmont Park, developed by the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which will result in an economic boon for the western end of Nassau County. Once approved by Federal and State officials, an Indian gaming facility will create thousands of additional local jobs.
“With recent Federal recognition of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a casino on Long Island is likely," said Mangano. “It is important that Nassau taxpayers benefit from the thousands of jobs and millions in annual revenue a casino will generate for the State and County. Belmont Park is ideal for such a facility.”
“This is very exciting news for Elmont and Belmont. This initiative will help create jobs and make Belmont the destination point it deserves to be. As we move forward in this initiative, I look forward to working with the County and developers to insure that this project is consistent and dovetails with the Elmont community’s vision for Belmont. Now is the time for Elmont to get the respect, attention and investment it deserves,” said Senator Martins.
Martins and Skelos’ support for development at the Belmont south lot is nothing new to the Elmont community. Both officials have long expressed their support for the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development’s plan for the Hempstead Turnpike corridor. As recently as last Thursday, the Elmont Chamber of Commerce held a forum at the Elmont Public Library where Martins discussed the casino initiative and the different hurdles such a plan will have to go through. “If we get all the approvals for a casino that will be great. However, we can’t take our focus off all the work the community, NYRA and the Coalition has gone through. We have a lot of great ideas for the south lot and we have to continue with that work while the casino plan is being developed and the approvals are being sought. We can’t sit still, Elmont deserves nothing but the best and we have to continue to work hard on the plan we have in place,” said Martins.
The Chamber forum on economic development was a flashpoint for many Elmont community leaders as local elected officials were no-shows at the forum with the exception of NYRA President Charles Hayward and Senator Martins. During the roundtable discussion, residents discussed the casino plan, south lot development and Hempstead Turnpike development. Muzzio Tallini served as the moderator of the discussion. Community leaders, residents and business owners strongly back the revitalization initiative put forth by the Elmont Coalition. Most audience members at the forum were disgusted by local officials who did not show up to the roundtable even after the RSVP’d their attendance. The discussion at the meeting surrounded NYRA, Belmont and plans to revitalize the community. NYRA President Charles Hayward, at the roundtable, signaled his strong support for the Coalition’s work and NYRA’s investment in revitalization at Belmont. Martins also spoke at length on plans for the Turnpike and Belmont and also stated his backing for the plan and thinking “outside the box” on economic development at the south lot of Belmont. “Why can’t we have a soccer facility, restaurants and shopping? The answer is we can. We have a lot of potential here and the support is strong in Elmont. We now have to make it happen,” said Martins.
During the economic development forum, audience members agreed with Martins and the Coalition’s initiative. Residents interjected throughout the discussion their personal recommendations for different shopping and restaurant ideas at the south lot which would compliment a soccer facility or semi-professional athletic facility. One resident noted, “this is something we’ve really wanted at the south lot and I’m so glad that it’s being taken so seriously.”
Muzzio Tallini, the economic development forum moderator added, “I am pleased to hear of this development. I can think of no other location on Long Island that offers the Shinnecock Indian Tribe what
Senator Dean Skelos noted, “"In every meeting I've had with Elmont community members, they've told me time and again that they want the soccer stadium, the restaurants, shopping and jobs in the south lot of Belmont. Senator Martins and I are not only focused on helping the County Executive with the Casino initiative, but we want to continue to partner with Elmont and their revitalization plan now. This an exciting time for Elmont and Belmont."
Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development Chair Sandra Smith said, “the announcement by County Executive Mangano is great news for Elmont. The community strongly supports the casino and the thousands of jobs it will create for the community. Having said that, our Elmont Senators are exactly right. We have to continue with our revitalization plan because those are plans that can happen now. The approvals for a casino will take time and we will support all the efforts being made to make the casino a reality at Belmont. For now, we have to continue our work and develop the south lot at Belmont and make it our reality.”
According to Martins, he not only supports a casino at the racetrack, but current efforts being focused on the Belmont south lot should continue to move forward that have called for a semi-professional soccer facility, shopping and restaurants which have been debated, discussed and put forth by the Elmont community. In an interview Tuesday, he said his main concern is that the project not impede plans already under way to revitalize the surrounding Hempstead Turnpike Corridor. "I don't think anybody believes this casino will happen overnight," he said. "The Hempstead Turnpike Corridor cannot be put on hold awaiting an outcome" of casino approvals, he said.
Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal President Randy King stated, “The Shinnecock Nation has always made clear that we are ready to partner with communities that want to partner with us, in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, as we pursue economic opportunities for our people that also provide jobs for our neighbors. We welcome the support from Nassau County Executive Mangano and Senators Skelos and Martins. We are prepared to discuss siting a facility at Belmont with the State, the local community and all the stakeholders there.”
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