Joint Statement on the Future of Belmont Park
JOINT STATEMENT FROM SENATOR CRAIG M. JOHNSON AND ASSEMBLYMAN
TOM ALFANO ON THE FUTURE OF BELMONT PARK RACE TRACK AND ITS
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COMMUNITY
As representatives of the communities
surrounding the Belmont Park Race Track, we remain very concerned with
what appeared to have been a lack of consideration for Elmont and
Floral Park in the awarding of a new state franchise for the
Recent events, however, have given us optimism that the communities’
voices will not be ignored during this process that will determine who
runs Belmont for the next 30 years.
We, like many of you, were alarmed that the memorandum of agreement
between the governor and the New York Racing Association made no
references to the race track’s role in the community.
The decades that NYRA has operated Belmont in a bubble has also left
many with little faith that, unless mandated to, they would become the
good neighbors that our communities need and our residents deserve,
The day the decision was announced, we sent a letter to Governor
Spitzer that spelled out our concerns and strongly requested that the
communities have a seat at the table during any decisions that were
made about Belmont.
Since that time, the governor has said, both personally and publicly,
that he agrees that the communities should be part of the process.
We applaud him for heeding our call.
But, make no mistake about it: We have a long way to go.
We need to make sure that these assurances are in writing and part of
the final franchise agreement, which has to be approved by the state
As your representatives in the Senate and the Assembly, we vow to make
sure that the community’s needs are met in the final version of the
How the track can best benefit the community is something that should
be left up to the community. Elmont is currently undergoing a
visioning process designed to determine the community’s future
Its relationship with Belmont, an attraction that draws thousands of
people to the area, is sure to figure prominently into this plan.
We promise to work with them to make sure that their vision is taken
to the state level, and becomes a reality.
In fact, the Elmont Community Coalition Council, which serves as the
umbrella organization for all civic groups in the community, has put
together a comprehensive, sensible list of recommendations we feel
should be used as a roadmap for this new relationship. Some of these
• A major overhaul of the facility including new painted fencing, more
attractive landscaping, sidewalk improvements, renovation of
backstretch housing and educational facilities for backstretch workers
and erection of lamps instead of poles surround the park and many
• Community participation and inclusion in the Annual Belmont Stakes
and other important races as well as a celebration parade at major
• Economic development and tourism initiatives including high-end
restaurants and shops on the grounds of the park as well as a hotel
and convention center to expand the use of the grounds year- round.
• Creating an overall business and service center to generate tax
revenue for the community, at the same time increasing the tax base
which results in lower property taxes to homeowners.
• An iron-clad PILOT (Payment in Lieu Of Taxes) agreement guaranteeing
a revenue stream from Belmont to local area governments, specifically
the school districts.
Of course, the only way that we can be truly successful is if all of
us, state officials, local leaders, and residents, to work together.
This is not an issue that can afford to be infected by partisanship
and any other difference that may divide us.
The future never is.