Opinion

Recently, Governor Paterson released a study on the redevelopment of the Belmont Park Race Track.

The study, which explores plans for the installation of video lottery terminals, a hotel, retail and recreation space, among other uses for the track's lands, is a good first step in the effort to transform Belmont into an economic engine for its neighbors.

I applaud the Governor, State Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini and the Empire State Development Corp. for reaching out to the Belmont host communities and having their input guide the formation of this document. This type of bottom-up consensus building is frankly a refreshing change from the way past administrations and other government agencies have conducted themselves.

I also appreciate the Executive Branch's continued commitment to bringing VLTs to Belmont, something that I believe is vital to this project's success._But let's be clear: This is only a first step toward making Belmont the first-class destination that it could be. This process should move as quickly as possible, but it has to be done correctly and the affected communities need to be involved every step of the way.

As your representative in the State Senate, I am committed to ensuring that our voices will be vital to the future direction of Belmont, before, during, and after this particular chapter is written. To that end, I have reintroduced (S.766), legislation that will create a Belmont Community Advisory Board. This board, similar to existing entities at both the Saratoga and Aqueduct racetracks, will provide full host community representation in all discussions relating to Belmont Park.

The Belmont Park Redevelopment Study can be found at http://www.empire.state.ny.us/Belmont/default.asp.


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