Tuesday, April 08, 2008

And They're Off!

Fair Is Fair At Belmont Park

There will be a Belmont Fair this year, after all. That is, provided that the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Hempstead gives its seal of approval to a compromise reached between the neighboring Elmont community and the fair vendor.

Kudos to Elmont East Civic Club President Pat Nicolosi for keeping the folks who run the fair -- including NYRA, Belmont's operator -- accountable for security and public safety.

Now let's get out to Belmont and have some fun!
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Compromise clears way for Belmont Fair

The Belmont Fair might be able to open this weekend -- a week late, truncated, and with heightened security -- under terms of a court stipulation entered Tuesday.

Reithoffer Shows of Gibsonton, Fla. was denied a permit for the fair last week by the Town of Hempstead Board of Appeals after Nassau County Police Insp. Frank Kirby testified that it posed a danger to the public because of rowdy behavior last year.

The operator puts on the fair in the "backyard" section of Belmont Park that it leases for $275,000 from the New York Racing Association, which has been criticized by area residents for not paying enough attention to the surrounding community of Elmont.

The stipulation, entered into before Justice Ute Wolff Lally of State Supreme Court in Mineola, must still be approved by the Board of Appeals before the fair can open Friday.

The fair, on the Grounds of Belmont Park, had originally been scheduled to run from noon to 11 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday for the month of April. The fair operator agreed in the stipulation to cancel Thursday events and limit the hours to 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays.

The stipulation also requires Reithoffer to hire 35 uniformed security guards, requires NYRA to provide additional security and mandates that all customers pass through metal detectors at a single entrance.

Police can shut down the fair at any point if it finds violations, the stipulation said."The conditions are in the stipulation and I'm confident the police will enforce it. I'm sure of that," Pat Nicolosi, president of the Elmont East Civic Association said.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

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