NYRA Sells Community Short; Local Assemblyman Expresses Ire
Those who live in the Elmont community -- and those who share their concerns over the future of Nassau County's western gateway -- cannot help but to be perturbed by the shabby treatment they've been getting from the NY Racing Association (NYRA), vis-a-vis NYRA's plans for the redevelopment of Belmont Park.
Indeed, it would seem that, to NYRA, there is no Elmont community at all; certainly, not a community whose interests matter to the State.
Assemblyman Tom Alfano, who continues to serve the people of Elmont with both distinction and zeal, offers the following comments, clearly echoing the sentiment of Elmont residents, who, clearly, have been left at the starting gate by the powers-that-be.
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Belmont Hasn't Been Good Neighbor
Last Thursday morning, many in the Elmont, Floral Park, North Valley Stream and Franklin Square communities must have had a good laugh while enjoying their morning coffee. It was most likely a direct reaction from reading NYRA's claim in Newsday of being a good neighbor to the Elmont community and channeling millions of dollars in the local economy.
What a laugh it was.
To quote directly from the Newsday article, "The New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont, rejected the critiques. It said that it has helped the local economy by luring millions of people to the racetrack and neighborhood for events, and taken part in efforts to beautify Elmont and the exterior of the track."
NYRA's statement is insulting and the NYRA is dead wrong and owes the community and the Community Coalition Council an apology.
The facts are Belmont Racetrack has not been a good neighbor at all. Can NYRA look the community in the eye with a straight face and say that they keep their grounds up and in good shape? Can they say they keep a good appearance in the community? Are the shrubs pruned, gates painted, the grass cut and the barns painted?
The answer is "no" to all of the above. They can not look Elmont in the face anymore and claim that they do. These very simple things are a respect issue to Elmont. The NYRA has not shown the community the respect it deserves.
Even more disturbingly, the NYRA cannot make any such claim to be a partner with the local economy or local businesses. The fact is they have not helped foster business or supported community endeavors.
I wonder if the NYRA can tell all of us [in] what Elmont events have they been such a wonderful community partner? Can you show us the results of the great influx of capital and business the local economy has received from their efforts? Show Elmont the great work you've done.
One need only look at the immediate area around Belmont Racetrack for an answer. If the NYRA's answer to economic development and beautification is the current state of affairs at the track, then the NYRA should be ashamed.
The people are disgusted with the NYRA and they're absolutely right.
I look forward to hearing the NYRA explain their comments and "rejection of the critiques" of their stewardship.
The greater community is absolutely correct in their assertion that Belmont separates itself from all of us. For years, many throughout Elmont have taken part in the annual Elmont Chamber of Commerce "State of Elmont" evening at the American Legion. I cannot remember one time that the NYRA was even in attendance.
Today, a great positive effort with Sustainable Long Island is taking place with the goal of revitalizing the community. I wonder if NYRA has even bothered to send a representative to the education forums. The answer is they have not. Hopefully, they will join us at the visioning weekend.
I think it's about time Elmont and the surrounding communities are the "favorites" at the Belmont Racetrack. The NYRA needs to get its act together and start partnering with the community. Simplistic statements and declarations will no longer be tolerated. Elmont deserves better and should not be treated like second-class citizens.
Assemblyman Tom Alfano