Town of Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino told the Herald last week that he supports both concepts currently being debated for Belmont Park in Elmont — a professional soccer stadium and a retail shopping center.
A fight broke out at the March 11 meeting of the Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development between Carl Achille, who wants to see affordable housing developed in Elmont, and Joseph Smith, ECSD Chairwoman Sandra Smith’s husband.
Ambrosino, who was not at the meeting, said he believes some people are using the altercation to further divide the community, and that that is impeding a unified resolution of the development issues.
The focus of the meeting was the competing proposals for the park. Achille, a small-business owner in Elmont, wanted to discuss housing, which was not on the meeting’s agenda.
While Achille alleged an unprovoked attack by Smith, Sandra Smith said that it seemed like a setup by Achille. A “Take Elmont Back” protest rally led by Achille and his supporters took place on March 16.
Ambrosino said that the community should be focused on the singular goal of development, and that he does not appreciate the fight being used for leverage by some of those who were involved. “I respect Sandra and Joe for the work they have done and continue to do for the community,” Ambrosino said. “I have no firsthand awareness [of the fight], but the incident is impeding a unified goal. I hope no one is using this for their own personal gains or political objectives to better themselves — but I suspect that they are.” Ambrosino did not mention any names.
He also said that he is pro-development, and applauds State Sen. Jack Martins for his role in pushing for Belmont Park’s rehabilitation. It is important to get input from the community, Ambrosino said, adding that while he is an advocate of both proposals, the one with the greatest longevity should ultimately be advanced.
“The biggest proponent is smart development,” he said. “No one-sized development fits all. We must not react to the past, but what we foresee will be good for the future.”
Ambrosino went on to say that both Elmont and Franklin Square face “the challenge of improving [their] commercial appeal. We can accomplish that by attracting businesses. Franklin Square must increase its commercial tax base to offset the stress of taxpayers. [It is a priority] to give residents the quality of life they need, want and deserve.”