Belmont development meeting gets heated

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Achille, unhappy with Sandra Smith’s unwillingness to discuss housing, began to direct his anger toward Claudine Hall, president of the Jamaica Square Improvement Civic League, according to Smith. She said that Hall and Achille began to argue, and two library employees asked them both to leave. When they did not, Achille and Joseph Smith moved closer to one another and began to argue.

“It’s being blown up,” said Sandra Smith. “[Achille is] not even being honest. It was not a brawl. I myself told [my husband] to get off and he did, right away. It’s very annoying that it’s coming to that.”

Smith also said that Achille has been trying to oust her since last February, and that blowing the incident out of proportion is an attempt to get the community’s support for removing her. “Since [last February, Achille and his supporters] have been wanting me to step down,” she said. “They didn’t vote for me, so they have been wanting me out. They would never attend the meetings, and now, when they finally did, they did this.”

Sandra Smith works for State Sen. Dean Skelos, who represents the 9th Senate District, which includes Belmont Park. Her job, she said, is to handle constituent issues in Elmont. Skelos and Sen. Jack Martins, whose district also includes part of Belmont, support the stadium plan.

Achille said that Smith should step down from her position as ECSD chairwoman, and that there needs to be changes in the wake of her husband’s actions. “Sandra told people to stop filming at the meeting, and you can’t do that,” Achille said. “You should be able to use a public library and advocate for Elmont families and citizens. She’s not qualified to lead a coalition of any type of development. It’s unfair that we’re not allowed to basically voice our opinion in a civic setting. What happened to me was unacceptable. I hope that the people involved in this situation would stand up and remove themselves from civic association boards, because they’re not fit to be leaders of this community.”

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