Long Islanders weigh in on Sands proposed robust environmental impact study during the January hearings in Uniondale.
Long Islanders weigh in: Sands New York supporters urge the Sands project forward with the project’s comprehensive environmental impact study.
When building an integrated resort complex with a multi-billion-dollar investment, it is crucial to outline and quantify the tangible effects economic growth, job creation, and community benefits. One key aspect that developers often strive to minimize is their environmental impact on the surrounding area through comprehensive research and mitigation measures.
Under the New York State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act and its implementing regulations, projects, like the Sands New York Integrated Resort, are required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement that identifies and evaluates impacts and presents mitigation measures that avoid or reduce those impacts. The SEQR regulations require public scoping to determine what should be evaluated in the Environmental Impact Statement, and the first step in the scoping process is the preparation of a Draft Environmental Scope by the applicant. The draft scope outlines the issues that will be studied in the Environmental Impact Statement. The public comment period and hearing process on the draft scope of the Environmental Impact Statement ensures public participation is at the center of establishing a comprehensive scope of study on the surrounding environment and community character.
Through the process of creating the scope for the Environmental Impact Statement for their planned Long Island integrated resort and wellness destination, Sands has gone above and beyond on their impact studies. The comprehensiveness of the draft scope and the studies proposed for the Environmental Impact Statement demonstrate Sands’ commitment to community benefits and documented record of global environmental sustainability.
Sands’ draft environmental review is the most robust ever proposed. They will assess environmental and social impacts including air quality, soil, noise, water, light, parking, and traffic– but also community character, jobs, and public health. The plan includes:
Transportation, Traffic and Parking
A full traffic impact study will evaluate over 114 locations, from seasonal patterns to weekday rush hours and weekend traffic, including during construction and operation. Parking, access, bicycles, and pedestrian traffic are all being studied, as well as how the project integrates into existing transit cycles and routes.
The study will also include a parking evaluation to ensure the proposed plans accommodate adequate on-site parking to mitigate the impact on the surrounding area.
Air, Soil and Water
Throughout the process of drafting their Environmental Impact Statement, Sands will study the existing vegetation and habitat, including the Hempstead Plains, and conduct a full analysis of water and soil, including groundwater, water supply, discharge, stormwater management, and soil excavation; study air emissions from stationary and mobile sources, as well as evaluate greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, energy conservation and sustainability measures including waste reduction.
The study will also assess how the proposed project would fit into overall the character of the existing community. This work will include a community character assessment, including cultural resources and zoning for the site and surrounding areas in consultation with the towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead and the villages of Garden City, Hempstead, Mineola, Westbury and Freeport.
The impact studies will also include noise and vibration assessments, including noise impacts during construction and operation of the facility, to ensure the integrated resort remains a longstanding good neighbor.
Public Health and Problem Gambling
Sands, in partnership with the Sands community Work Groups, will study problem gambling, as well as available programs and services. This ongoing study will include period assessments to identify and study services that mitigate gambling addictions and other public health concerns.
EIS studies will include a full analysis of the project’s impact on jobs and economic growth (direct and indirect), which includes looking at community demographics, Sands’ commitments to the community, as well as construction, employment, and training programs.
Community Facilities and Services, and Cumulative Impacts
The study will include the site’s existing use of facilities and capacities, including emergency services, and the assessment of impacts of increased demand on services from the resort. The scope will also include proposed on-site security, as well as how the project might interact with other developments in the area, like the anticipated NYU-Langone Hospital.
Town of Hempstead Public Hearings
While the Sands’ draft scope for the Environmental Impact Statement is being reviewed, the Town of Hempstead (the lead agency) has hosted public meetings to transparently inform community members about Sands’ proposed assessment commitments, as well as solicit community feedback on the scope of the assessment. Hundreds of Long Islanders have turned out to these meetings to show their support for the project, and for the DEIS to move forward.
Uniondale resident Olena Nicks said, through submitted written testimony, “Although it is imperative to have a full view of the proposed Sands project, I support the process in which Sands New York is taking to illustrate their plans. Sands New York has been working to show their commitment to the Uniondale community and surrounding areas. Through flexible working groups Sands has made it accessible for residents and stakeholders to have transparent insight into the environmental impact of the project. I believe the steps taken and information distributed are positive initial steps that address the questions and concerns of Residents.”
East Meadow resident Gary Humbert submitted, “It’s an economic win for everyone. It creates thousands of jobs and brings dollars to our local businesses. It’s a win-win situation.”
The information collected from the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will help inform Sands on how and where it should provide targeted resources for mitigation, ensuring a final project that is a net gain for the region, providing substantial quality of life benefits.
The details of Sands’ robust study for the proposed $4 billion resort is available on the Town of Hempstead’s website at HempsteadNY.gov.