Vets village idea wins contest

Elmont teen earns $5K scholarship for Belmont plan


Elmont resident Kareem Nelson, 17, was named the winner of the Invest in Elmont entrepreneurial contest, an Elmont Chamber of Commerce-sponsored program with a long-term goal of building ideas for developing Elmont’s business district.

Nelson won a $5,000 scholarship for his Veterans Village at Belmont Park concept. The second-place winner in the competition, now in its second year, was Gregory Simicich, whose plan focused on a recycling business called the Giving Three, and Zanali Razvi’s plan to build an amusement park at Belmont Park was awarded third prize.

The contest, which challenged participants to create business plans that would boost Elmont’s economy, was founded in 2011 by East End Civic Association Vice President Muzzio Tallini and barbershop owner Carl Achille. It is open to juniors and seniors in the Sewanhaka Central High School District, college freshmen, sophomores and juniors living in Elmont, and college seniors who plan to continue their education in graduate school.

Nelson, who will be attending Nassau Community College and majoring in communications in the fall, detailed a multi-million-dollar entertainment and veterans’ housing complex. The plan included full-time access to the Belmont LIRR station as well as express trains between Elmont and Penn Station and the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

The main factor Nelson considered was the revitalization of nightlife and an attempt to attract younger people to the community. He included amenities for entertainment, such as an indoor paintball course, a pool hall and a fitness center, as well as a housing facility featuring luxury apartments for veterans and young professionals. Support services such as counseling, health care and job placement for returning veterans were also part of his plan.

Much of the revenue would come from a mix of uses of residential and retail establishments. Locating them next to public transportation would bring the economic boost, he said.

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