Written by Thomas J. Tweedy Friday, 14 September 2012 08:35
The proposal to create a clean energy center at Belmont Park is receiving some significant attention and lively discussion. Stewart Manor Mayor James Kelly’s most recent mayoral message strongly endorsed the proposal and noted several advantages to having a municipal utility serving Belmont Park as well as its neighboring villages of Stewart Manor, South Floral Park, Bellerose and Floral Park. Obviously using our successful Four Village Studio arrangement relating to local cable service as a model for local electrical service makes perfect sense.
There has also been a positive response to Newsday’s September 6 feature article, which refers to the natural gas co-generation clean energy center simply as a “power plant.” but the shorthand term really does not convey what is being proposed. What we have in mind is a facility that is modeled after a 30-Megawatt co-generation facility at the University of California at San Diego that is literally on the college campus that contains student residences and even a hospital. While, Long Islanders understandably have bad memories due to LILCO’s 820-Megawatt Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant, the UC-San Diego 30-Megawatt co-generation facility is more in keeping with the look of a college library rather than the unsightly oil refinery.
It also appears that some in the Elmont community may be frustrated that their residential users cannot be included within the Four Village Microgrid. As an initial matter, Elmont will directly benefit with the energy that will be made available to the entire 435-acre Belmont Park campus. Ironically, if the residents of Elmont ever came together to create their own incorporated village, thereby allowing them access to participate in a municipal utility such as the Four Village Microgrid, it would double the size of the 30-megawatt facility. Be assured that the scale of our proposed facility will be in keeping with the purpose and the character of Belmont Park. We want a clean energy facility with the least impact and the most compact footprint as is practicable. While a professional soccer stadium, casino or concert area would no doubt all negatively impact the surrounding communities, having a safe, reliable local source of energy at Belmont Park will have a minimal impact and greatly enhance the surrounding communities.
The Elmont vision of developing areas of Belmont Park adjacent to Hempstead Turnpike will also be greatly enhanced by the possibility of being serviced by a clean energy co-generation facility. The State of New York Economic Development Corp.’s recent announcement with the State of New York Franchise Board that they are seeking requests for proposals to develop both the 8-acre site directly adjacent to the Belmont Park grandstand and its LIRR platform as well as the 28-acre triangle-shaped parcel across the street from the Belmont Park south of Hempstead Turnpike is welcome news. While the requests for proposals specifically prohibits the development of any residential or casinos, demonstrating the State of New York is committed to improving Belmont Park’s infrastructure by creating a state of the art clean energy center would no doubt jump start the all but stalled visioning process in Elmont.
It is interesting to note that while many in Elmont have warmly embraced a whole laundry list of failed or abandoned ideas at Belmont Park that would have resulted in a dramatic increase in local traffic and congestion such as an all but dead Indian Nation casino proposal, a new soccer stadium (which appears to becoming a reality in Flushing Meadows Park), or even a replacement for the Nassau Coliseum, (which should be placed where it is now at the Nassau Hub), yet, when other adjacent communities propose a practical and needed improvement at Belmont Park with little traffic or congestion, some in Elmont scream foul. It is more likely that a supermarket or movie theater will become a reality at either of the two Belmont Park sites on Hempstead Turnpike, however, if they have access to a more reliable and more reasonable municipal utility service which is also based at Belmont Park.
Please be assured that the elected representatives of Floral Park, Bellerose, Stewart Manor and South Floral Park have reached out and will continue to work together with the elected representatives of the hamlet of Elmont to ensure the concerns of all communities surrounding Belmont Park are taken into consideration. We would be pleased to consider making the Four Village Microgrid become the Five Village Microgrid if the Elmont community joins the fold of incorporated villages like Floral Park, Bellerose, Stewart Manor and South Floral Park.