Annmarie Fertoli, Associate Producer, WNYC News
Annmarie Fertoli is an Associate Producer at WNYC, working with the afternoon news team to produce All Things Considered.
The Belmont Stakes, the longest race and final hurdle on the way to the Triple Crown title, brings tens of thousands of people to Belmont Park, in Elmont, Long Island, each year. If there's a chance of a Triple Crown winner — meaning there's a horse running who's already clinched first place in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes — attendance tends to be even higher.
Although there's no contender for the Triple Crown in Saturday's race, the 143rd running of the Belmont Stakes will bring huge crowds to the track this weekend. But some Elmont residents say the community doesn't reap much benefit, because there's nothing to keep visitors there after the big race.
Patrick Nicolosi, a Democratic candidate for the state Assembly last year, has lived in Elmont since 1967. He's the president of the Elmont East End Civic Association, and co-chair of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development. He's pushing for development that would make his community a destination, and keep families coming back for more than just the Belmont Stakes.
"To have a 430-acre parcel of land in Nassau County for one day a year -- it doesn't make sense. You want to generate crowds 365 days a year," he said, adding that the park's proximity to major airports and transit hubs make it "the perfect location" for development.
Part of his vision is for Elmont Park to have "an array of venues" for families. "That's what people want. They don't want to go just to bet horses. They want shopping, they want entertainment, they want restaurants, they want something for the children," he said. "This is what has to be done here in Elmont, and we can do it." Nicolosi said he's working with the community and local lawmakers.
In May, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano jointly announced proposals for a sports arena in Nassau County, and a casino at Belmont Park. Mangano and state Senators Dean Skelos and Jack Martins said they are backing those plans -- and are in talks about the proposal with the Shinnecock Indian Nation.