Construction has already started on the New York Islanders new home at Belmont. With that has come a few lawsuits to stop construction, one of which might actually have legs.
On September 28, the New York Islanders hosted an event at Belmont Park. Along with state leadership like New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Islanders officially broke ground on their new home at Belmont Park.
It was an incredible event for Islanders fans who want nothing more than for their team to have a permanent hockey first home on Long Island. Fans got that after a group led by the New York Islanders winning a request for proposals (RFP) from the state’s development agency Empire State Development.
The plan calls for a retail, dining, and entertainment village, a hotel, and 10,000 sq ft of office space and parking and of course a 19,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders. Later a full-time LIRR station was added to the project.
Not everyone was as excited about this $1.3 billion project as Isles fans were. A group of civic leaders filed a lawsuit to stop the project. And the argument they’re using might have some legs to it.
Public Trust Doctrine
After the second lawsuit was field I asked Ashira Ostrow, Professor of Real Estate and Land Use Law at Hofstra University if it had any legs. The only thing that was known at that point was the lawsuit was filed by Elmont civic leaders and was arguing that Belmont was a parkland that had served as a disaster evacuation site.
But, after speaking with Professor Ostrow, that might not necessarily be the crux of the group’s argument. The group is claiming that the land can’t just be sold without the consent of the State Legislature based on Public Trust Doctrine.
The lawsuit sets out four pages of its petition/complaint discussing Public Trust Doctrine and how that process was ignored in this case.
"New York State Franchise Oversight cannot usurp the Elective Official Authority to transfer or lease public park/state land without a legislative act. -Halop et al v. Empire State Development Corp. et al. pg.13"
What is Public Trust Doctrine? Essentially, it’s the idea that the parkland can’t be sold without the authority of a legislative body, in this case, the New York State Legislature.
So why does that argument have legs? Well, it’s been used before, quite recently and it won. The same argument was used against the construction of a mall at Willets Point and it won.
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Unless Empire State Development can argue that the State has already agreed to this sale in some way shape or form, the construction might be in some trouble. Maybe the fact that Governor Cuomo feels neither lawsuit has any credibility should make us feel better.