Last night, I attended the 180th Community Outreach Meeting conducted by the Lighthouse Development Group along with about 1,000 other supporters, politicians and sports figures. I went in with a clear mind as to what topics would be covered and I was not disappointed. The only thing that I regret not hearing about was any opposition to the project. Now please, don't jump to conclusions. I'm completely behind the Lighthouse Project 110%. However, I'm interested in hearing the reasons for people to be against a project such as the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse will effect every Long Islander's life and it's important to garner as much input as possible before hopefully moving forward and getting a shovel in the ground.
A little after 7:00 PM, Charles Wang, Scott Rechler, President of the Lighthouse Development Group, Michael Picker and Nassau County Exec Tom Suozzi all took to the stage to answer as many questions they could in a two hour period.
Mr. Wang began by acknowledging the event as the 180th Community Meeting and referring to it as "unprecedented" that the number of meetings had been reached. Frankly, the sheer number of community meetings that the Lighthouse Group has conducted is staggering. They've done everything in their power to inform the public about the inner workings of the project and what their plans are to move forward.
"Why haven't you started it yet?"
That's a question that Mr. Wang has had to face for quite some time. We all know by now that the state has very stringent laws about how building developments and especially one this size have to be approved. There simply is no way around it. Several times last night, Mr. Wang was his acknowledged for his "patience, vision and passion" to get the project done. Charles in turn replied, "Don't bet against us on Long Island" to rousing applause.
County Executive Suozzi tempered the joyous mood by listing the major problems that Nassau County is facing and how the Lighthouse would be a great starting point to resolving these four issues:
- Property Taxes
- Young People Moving Away or Not Coming to LI
- Pockets of Poverty that have been left for far too long
I believe Scott Rechler, Head Developer of the Lighthouse Project, put it best:
"We are losing the future of Long Island. This is about competing to keep companies coming to Long Island and bringing young people in who want to work on Long Island."
"When companies are looking, they're not looking to Long Island. They can't find a young workforce who want to come to Long Island because they can't find the type of housing, the type of lifestyle that they want to live by. Instead, they go to places like White Plains, Hoboken or other parts of New Jersey. LONG ISLAND IS NOT EVEN ON THE MAP!"
This is the reality that people my age face. I've even resigned my fate to somewhere off of this Island where I was born and raised. It's simply a fact of life. However, a project such as the Lighthouse would provide ample opportunities for people to find jobs and affordable housing that will be required in what has been termed as "new suburbia".
Last night was an endless parade of supporters, local political figures and sports legends. Each of them voiced their support and many asked what could possibly be done by the public to get the project moving at a quicker pace. Unfortunately, there really is no answer for that issue. County Executive Tom Suozzi made it clear that we would know about the next step "by early to mid-April" and that the process will hopefully be progressing at a faster rate following that milestone (approval of the Environmental Impact Statement by the Town of Hempstead and their issuance of a Negative Declaration. Please see my friend Nick's site, Let There Be Light(house) for a Glossary of Terms used in the approval process).Correction: My astute friend Nick, the proprietor of Let There Be Light(house),had to set me straight on some of the terminology that I alluded to. Guess I need to read his Decoding the SEQR Series Part 1 and Part 2 again.
The Lighthouse will truly be "Long Island's own Stimulus Package". This is the point in Long Island history where the public needs to take a stand and unite in one voice to approve a project that will not only revitalize the Uniondale and Hempstead area but all of Long Island from Long Beach to Montauk. Our time has arrived and I personally plan on taking full advantage of the opportunities afforded to me by this project. I hope that someday soon I'll be able to say to my friends and family: "Meet me at the Lighthouse!"
Please take in my two previous posts on the subject: Crossroads at the El Coliseo and Meet Me at What is the Next 25 Years on Long Island for further insight.
Also, don't forget to check out the links at the right that will have numerous accounts of last night's meeting. Get them some hits as well because they are certain to have a different take than I do.
I will be back in the coming days with more notes and quotes from the Meeting. There is an enormous amount of information that came out of it and it will take more than one post to cover. Check back soon.
For Questions, Comments or General Housing Development Issues, please refer to your superintendent at DougD84@optonline.net or in the Comments section.