Bill Parry


Belmont Redevelopment To Get New LIRR Station

A rendering of the new Elmont Long Island Rail Road station. Courtesy of the Governor's office

A new Long Island Rail Road station will be built as part of the $1.26 billion Belmont Park Redevelopment Project, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

The $105 million station will be built between Queens Village and Bellerose stations on the LIRR’s main line just north of Belmont Park, and just east of the Cross Island Parkway, helping to mitigate traffic concerns raised by the planned 19,000-seat hockey arena that will be home to the New York Islanders.

“The Belmont project will help drive the region’s economy forward while building the Islanders a state-of-the-art facility at home on Long Island, creating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic output along the way,” Cuomo said. “Now with the addition of the first full-time LIRR train station in almost 50 years, we will provide millions of visitors and fans as a fast and affordable way to get there and continue New York’s nation-leading investments in 21st-century transportation infrastructure.”

The new station will provide direct service to Belmont Park from both east and west as opposed to the LIRR spur, which can only provide westbound service. Currently, LIRR commuters from the east must go to Jamaica and backtrack to the park.

In addition to the hockey arena, the redevelopment project also includes a 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and movie theater. The developers of the proposed project, New York Area Partners, will cover $97 million, 92 percent of the total cost of the LIRR station, and the state will invest $8 million.

Cuomo also released the economic impact study of the redevelopment project, which says nearly $50 million in new public revenue will be generated each year while creating $725 million in annual economic activity and generating annual employees earnings of roughly $133 million.

“The Belmont Redevelopment Project will turn unused state land into an economic engine for Long Island and Queens, creating jobs both in the construction of a new LIRR station, and the hotel and retail village that can service Belmont’s visitors,” said U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), who represents the area. “Today’s announcement shows New York’s commitment to investing in public transit.”

Lenny Dykstra Helping Move NYC Diner To Riverhead

Former Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra joins the team that is trying to rescue the Shalimar Diner in Rego Park from a wrecking crew. Courtesy of Michael Perlman.

Former New York Mets bad boy Lenny “Nails” Dykstra has joined a new team hoping to grant the shuttered Shalimar Diner in Rego Park a new lease on life on Long Island.

The beloved eatery permanently closed its doors last year after 45 years when the property and an adjoining lot were sold in a $6.5 million all-cash deal with developers.

In April, Rego-Forest Preservation Council founder and chairman Michael Perlman launched an effort to find a taker for the classic structure for zero dollars and move it to a new location before the wrecking ball arrives.

Enter Dykstra, the star outfielder on the 1986 World Champion Mets squad and three-time all-star with the Philadelphia Phillies. He joined forces with Manhattan attorney Ronald Hariri and Perlman to relocate the Shalimar Diner to Riverhead, Long Island where it would likely reopen as a brewery and diner.

“Similar to Nails, the Shalimar Diner is a piece of Queens and New York City history,” Hariri said. “We are working with an architect.”

Hariri said he was raised on egg creams at the Shalimar when he lived in Forest Hills near Perlman the preservationist and historian.

“These places are cultural cornerstones of the neighborhood but they’ve become an endangered species,” Perlman said. “It’s really sad and disheartening now how much land costs around here.The structure is prefabricated and manufactured to be easy to move.”

Hariri and Dykstra will funds the moving costs and it will be transported by a professional diner rigger. Perlman became known as “The Diner Man” after he achieved success by sparing other classic diners such as SoHo’s Moondance Diner and Midtown Manhattan’s Cheyenne Diner by brokering deals to have them transported to new locations.

It is not clear when the Shalimar Diner will be removed from its 63-68 Austin St. location.

“I became a preservationist in 2005 when a demolition crew took a jackhammer to the art deco ticket booth at the Trylon Theater on Queens Boulevard,” Perlman recalled. “The Shalimar was another ultimate public institution now facing oblivion.”

Dykstra, meanwhile, is looking to preserve his reputation after several brushes with the law over the years including charges of indecent exposure, DUI, grand theft auto, bankruptcy fraud, sexual assault and writing bad checks. Dykstra made headlines recently for searching for his lost dentures in a New Jersey dumpster for nine hours with his friend, tag-team wrestler nicknamed Sprinkles the Clown, that he chronicled on his Twitter feed.

This article first appeared in the Queens Courier