No Fair This Year As Community Halts Madness At The Gate
The Belmont Fair -- a vestige of more bucolic times at Belmont Park in Elmont is, alas, no more. Well, at least for this year.
After many years of unrest and unruliness [must be those agitators and interlopers brought in from Levittown] the Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Hempstead, at the request of the Elmont community, and with the support of the 5th Precinct of the Nassau County Police Department, wisely pulled the plug on this year's side show.
Over the years, the Belmont Fair, once the venue of family fun and frolic, had been turned over to the hoodlums and hooligans, a blemish upon the park and the Elmont community, and a danger to those who attended the fair, not to pick a pocket or to be the victim of an assault, but rather, as a respite from that real world just outside the park and along the Turnpike, where, without admission charge -- and sans cotton candy -- you can have your pocket picked and be mugged at your leisure.
Its a shame that the Belmont Fair had to be axed, perhaps to become just a memory of a kinder, gentler time -- a time when Belmont Park was a green oasis, and not a used car lot cum asphalt jungle.
If the Elmont community has its say, better days lie ahead for historic Belmont Park, home of the last leg of the Triple Crown, and the once illustrious Belmont Fair.
For now, however, the midway has gone dark, and there will be no racing today.
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Community opposition closes Belmont Park fair
BY WILLIAM MURPHY
The 100-foot-tall Giant Wheel and other major attractions that bring in tens of thousands of people sat idle at Belmont Park on Friday after police and community opposition forced the cancellation of the monthlong Belmont Fair in Elmont.
The fair was to have begun Thursday and run on four-day weekends through April 25.The long-running annual fair has had its share of problems with rowdy crowds. It was canceled in 2006 after complaints about unruly crowds, and the rowdiness erupted again last year when the fair resumed, Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey said.
Although the fair operator was supposed to provide security last year inside Belmont Park, the 35 employees designated for security duties also were ride operators, Mulvey said. "There was, in effect, no security," he said.
"There were other problems. They were supposed to close at 11 p.m., but they'd drag their feet until midnight, 12:30," he said. He said he did not have all the specifics on the event for last year, but there was an arrest for weapons possession and trouble with crowd control.
In 2005, two officers from the Fifth Precinct were hospitalized after a melee broke out while they were trying to restore order, he said.
Bracing for possible trouble this year, Mulvey said he assigned four uniformed officers, four undercover officers and two mounted officers on overtime Thursday night. Mulvey made the assignments even though the county is not technically responsible for security within Belmont Park, which is run by the New York Racing Association.
A spokesman for the association, John Lee, declined to say how much revenue NYRA expected to get from the fair operator, Reithoffer Shows. The company did not return several messages left at its offices in Gibsonton, Fla. The voice mail for the main telephone line was full and not accepting messages.
The fair did not open as scheduled Thursday because the Board of Appeals of the Town of Hempstead refused on Wednesday to issue a permit requested by NYRA, Mulvey and the board secretary, Joseph Pellegrini, said. Mulvey said the commanding officer of the Fifth Precinct, Insp. Frank Kirby, cited the past troubles when he testified before the board and asked that the permit not be granted.
Pat Nicolosi, president of the Elmont East Civic Association, said the racing association has been a bad neighbor for years. Nicolosi said he told association officials at a meeting this week: "You're supposed to be the new NYRA, but you're up to your old tricks."Lee said NYRA was working to improve relations with the community.
Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.
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In related news: Senator Dean Skelos Seeks Aid For Belmont's Neighbors