New York State Senators Dean G. Skelos (R–9th Senate District) and Kemp Hannon (R–6th Senate District) and Assemblyman Tom Alfano (R–21st Assembly District) today held a press conference at Gotham Avenue Elementary School in Elmont to announce their support for the introduction of video lottery terminals ("VLTs") at Belmont Park racetrack.
"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revitalize Belmont Park and invest in Elmont and the surrounding communities," said Senator Skelos. "After carefully consulting with local leaders and providing an opportunity for everyone in the community to express their opinion, we believe that VLTs can be an effective tool to provide more money for area school districts and promote economic growth in Elmont."
Senator Hannon said, "It is important Long Islanders know they are getting something in return from Belmont Racetrack after years of being neglected. The NYRA owes over $20 million in back taxes, which affected dollars meant for our schools. The track has an obligation to Long Islanders to maintain its facility so it does not continue to be an eyesore. We are asking the state for the same deal afforded to New York City and Yonkers. Long Islanders should not be shortchanged."
On Friday, October 12, 2007, Senators Skelos and Hannon and Assemblyman Alfano formally expressed their support for VLTs at Belmont Park in letters to Governor Eliot Spitzer, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. In this correspondence, the area’s state representatives conditioned their support for VLTs on the state providing $20 million in state aid payments that would be apportioned between the (1) affected school districts, including the Elmont Union Free School District, Floral-Park-Bellerose Union Free School District and Sewanhaka Central High School District, (2) the Nassau County Police Department’s Fifth Precinct and (3) a newly created "Belmont Park Community Reinvestment Trust."
As proposed by Senators Skelos and Hannon and Assemblyman Alfano, the "Belmont Park Community Reinvestment Trust" would be administered by a Board of Trustees representing civic, business and school district interests in Elmont and other involved communities. Through these three funding mechanisms, the state aid payments would support local public education, promote safety and security and facilitate economic development, community renewal, the provision of social services and other similar priorities.
In their letter, Senators Skelos and Hannon and Assemblyman Alfano called the selection of a new franchisee to operate Belmont Park a "historic opportunity to restore this world-class facility and catalyze economic growth in both Elmont and the adjacent communities."
Further, they stated that the "selected franchisee must demonstrate a clear commitment to the revitalization of Belmont Park and the Elmont community. By bolstering attendance, providing a substantial investment in the host economy and restoring the Park’s status as a conscientious neighbor, the new franchisee will help address the fundamental grievances expressed at the hearing and ensure the next century of racing at "Beautiful Belmont Park."
Senators Skelos and Hannon and Assemblyman Alfano elected to support the introduction of VLTs at Belmont Park after soliciting testimony from local elected officials, area school districts, chambers of commerce, civic associations, clergy and the Nassau County Police Department at a Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee public hearing at Elmont Memorial Library held on October 1st.