Senator Johnson Introduces Belmont Community Advisory Board Legislation

Craig M. Johnson

February 21, 2008

Community and local government leaders, join in announcement

ELMONT – Senator Craig M. Johnson, (D-Nassau), Thursday announced the introduction of important legislation that would create a community advisory board for communities surrounding the Belmont Park Race Track. 

The bill, (S6977), would create a board that is the equivalent of panels serving the municipalities that host the Saratoga and Aqueduct thoroughbred race tracks. 

Those boards were included in the new state thoroughbred racing franchise with NYRA. The 25-year agreement did not include a board for Belmont, nor any other benefits for Elmont and Floral Park. Because of that, Senator Johnson voted against the agreement when it came to a vote in the Senate last week. 

"This legislation will correct an injustice committed on the communities of Elmont and Floral Park by this most recent franchise agreement," said Johnson. "History has shown that NYRA, left on its own, will operate in a bubble with little regard for the communities that host the race track. It is our hope that this mechanism will make it so that the needs of Floral Park and Elmont residents will no longer be ignored." 

Per this legislation, the 15-member advisory board would be comprised of:

Four members appointed by the Town of Hempstead Supervisor, three of whom must reside in Elmont, with the approval of the Town Board;

Four members appointed by the Mayor of Floral Park with the approval of the Village Board;

Four members appointed by the Elmont Community Coalition Council;

And three designees appointed by NYRA.

Johnson was joined in his announcement by community members and local leaders from Elmont and Floral Park. 

"What happens inside Belmont's gates greatly affects what happens outside of them," said Elmont Community Coalition Council President Joyce Stowe. "I thank Senator Johnson for taking up this cause and fighting to make sure that we are part of a process that we have been excluded from for so very long." 

"Belmont is an important part of our community, and it is crucial that the residents of Floral Park have a say in its future direction," said Floral Park Village Trustee James Rhatigan. "I want to thank Senator Johnson for fighting to make sure this happens."

"This is common-sense legislation that the people of Elmont and Floral Park deserve," said Senate Democratic Leader Malcolm A. Smith (D-St. Albans). "These communities host the race track and have just as much of a right for their voices to be heard as the other race communities of Saratoga and the Aqueduct, which will be granted community advisory boards under the new NYRA franchise agreement. I commend Senator Johnson for listening to the needs of his constituents and putting forth important legislation that will have a positive impact on their families and communities."