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Elmont residents bemoan noise of Belmont construction

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For the past few weeks, George Magliore has been waking up in the wee hours of the morning to the sound of trucks dropping off supplies at Belmont Park. Then a few hours later, another Elmont resident, Andrew Ogboe, says, he will hear construction workers banging on the iron beams that have been erected at Belmont Park while he’s getting his father ready for his dialysis appointments.

“Waking up with that noise is really inconvenient,” Ogboe, who lives directly across from the Park, said, describing the din as “constant and disturbing.”

Magliore added that those who work during the day in his home on Wellington Road often don’t get enough sleep, and for those who work night shifts, “It’s hard for them to fall asleep.”

Mark Dreifus, who lives on Hathaway Avenue, said that the noise can last until 10 p.m., and added, “We all moved here to get away from the city, and get away from the hustle and bustle.”

Many other Elmont residents have complained about the construction noise at Belmont Park, where developers are building an 18,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders, a 250-room hotel, a community center, commercial office space and 350,000 square feet of retail space, according to Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages. On June 12, Solages woke up to a text message from another constituent who alerted him to the racket, and he emailed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to ask if construction on the redevelopment could be limited to after 9 a.m. Solages had not heard back from the governor as the Herald went to press on Monday.

Representatives of Empire State Development, the state agency that promotes development, and the project’s developers, New York Arena Partners, a consortium comprising the Islanders franchise, the Oak Group and the Wilpon family, said they had not received any complaints from residents.

“The only active construction site is immediately adjacent to the Belmont grandstand, which is roughly 900 feet from homes in Elmont and is separated from them by Hempstead Avenue,” Matthew Gorton, a spokesman for ESD, said in a statement. “While there is no evidence of early morning construction, we have reminded all of our partners that they must abide by the requirements in the state’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.”

That statement, which ESD officials approved last August, advises that construction crews should “minimize noisy work during night time hours where practical and feasible.” Additionally, it says, construction should be carried out only between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., under Town of Hempstead code. Normal work would end around 5 p.m., “but it can be expected that in order to complete certain critical tasks … the work day may occasionally be extended beyond typical work hours,” the statement says.

Moreover, it states, residents of the streets surrounding Belmont Park may experience “significant adverse construction noise levels for approximately 20 months,” and especially those who live on Crocus and Spruce avenues. Residents of the dormitories at Belmont Park, meanwhile, could see noise levels rise by 8 decibels in Empire State Development’s worst-case scenario, but it still “would not rise to the level of a significant noise impact” because that scenario would not last very long.

New York Arena Partners also offered to replace residents’ single-pane windows with double-pane ones alternatives and to install window air conditioning units to mitigate noise. But even with the double-pane glass, Magliore said, “The noise still goes right through it.”

“They should spend some time inside the homes,” he said of the developers, adding that residents would likely continue to hear loud noise coming from the area once the arena is open for events. To mitigate that potential problem, he suggested that the developers install walls or plant trees around the park “so that this noise doesn’t affect us for the foreseeable future.”

Those with complaints about the construction should call Marion Phillips, Empire State Development’s senior vice president of community relations, at (212) 803-3803.