The shovels could be hitting the dirt in the near future on an Islanders arena at Belmont Park.
The Empire State Development Corporation approved the project during a board meeting in midtown Manhattan. The board voted unanimously to approve the project just around 5 p.m. after a roughly two hour public comments period.
The thumbs up from the state agency handling the Belmont Park redevelopment cleared a significant hurdle for the project, leaving just approval from the Franchise Oversight Board left before shovels can hit the ground. That approval is expected to come in a matter of weeks, according to Newsday.
Thursday’s approval from ESD also begins a 120-day period in which legal action can be filed to stop work on the project. While many of the speakers on Thursday were in support of the development, a pair of officials from Floral Park voiced opposition.
Kevin Fitzgerald, Deputy Mayor of Floral Park, and Floral Park trustee Lynn Pombonyo both asked the ESD board not to approve the project. Fitzgerald said it would be “detrimental” to Floral Park, while Pombonyo’s concerns revolved around the Long Island Rail Road Station that would be constructed as part of the redevelopment.
Fitzgerald told Newsday’s Candice Ferrette after the meeting that “all options are on the table.”
The Islanders plan will cost $1.3 billion 19,000-seat arena, 350,000 square feet of upscale shops and restaurants, a 250-room hotel and parking.