Sign-up for our newsletter!

Islanders arena developers urged to hire local

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

This article first appeared in Newsday.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and local labor leaders appealed on Monday to the developers behind the proposed Islanders arena at Belmont Park to employ local residents in the thousands of temporary and permanent jobs that the $1.2 billion project is expected to generate.

Some 12,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs could be needed to build and run the 19,000-seat arena and the surrounding retail development — jobs that could be a boon to local trade workers and nearby residents seeking employment, Gillen said.

"We want to make sure that Long Islanders and people who know our communities best and take pride in our community are doing the work," she said.

"When we empower the people who live here to directly shape their future, while putting money into the communities that will live with this project, we create stronger families and brighter futures for our taxpayers."

Gillen, Long Island Federation of Labor president John Durso and Nassau-Suffolk Building Trades Council president Matthew Aracich called on New York Arena Partners, the Islanders' development team, to enter into a project labor agreement that would ensure that local union laborers are hired on the project.

Representatives of New York Arena Partners and the Islanders did not respond to requests for comment.

In addition to the arena, the proposal calls for 435,000 square feet of retail space and a 250-room hotel on the state-owned land near Hempstead Turnpike and the Cross Island Parkway.

Public hearings on the environmental impact of the project will be held for three days beginning Tuesday.

Durso said striking a deal with local labor unions would help the massive development effort stay on schedule and within its budget.

"With a project labor agreement, this job will get done faster, better," he said.

Aracich said the project offers the chance in particular to attract workers from disadvantaged communities and from Long Island's large veterans population.

"There's a lot of opportunity for everybody here," he said.

Gillen noted that the developers behind the Nassau Hub project promised in November to sign a project labor agreement.

Asked whether she has spoken to the arena project's backers directly about hiring local labor, Gillen said she had "discussed it very briefly" with one of the developers, but she declined to say whether they have expressed support for the idea.

The public hearings will be held at the Elmont Memorial Library, 700 Hempstead Tpke., on Tuesday at 6 p.m., Wednesday at 4 and 6:30 p.m. and on Thursday at 6 p.m., according to the website of the Empire State Development Corporation.