After all the posturing over the past two years, the anti-climatic nature of the Public Hearing on August 4th overshadowed the huge crossroads the Project has arrived at. Many a powerful voice came out in support of the Lighthouse including principal developer Charles Wang, former Islander greats Bobby Nystrom and Mike Bossy, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and local politicians and community leaders. However, I'm more concerned about those who have spoken out AGAINST the Project. What are the issues that they want examined?
After the jump, I have a special treat for you guys: A slide show of the pictures I took at the Rally and the Public Hearing. Be sure to check it out...
This was a comment I posted over at James Mirtle's From the Rink in response to a post about concerns that were being raised by those in opposition of the Lighthouse Project. You can read his whole article and the myriad of other comments here.
1) Environmental Concerns
Here’s the issue. The State mandated process for Environmental Impact Survey is to DETERMINE ANY ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE THAT WILL EFFECT THE OVERALL FOOTPRINT OF THE PROJECT. The reason that this process is so drawn out is due to the fact that many agencies, most importantly the Town of Hempstead, must review each and every area of concern before moving into the Final Environmental Impact Study. Water, sewage and conservation of the Hempstead Plains area are all included in the DGEIS that was submitted in February. Remember, THINGS ARE NOT FINALIZED! Nor will they be until the Town of Hempstead, Nassau County and the State of NY have done their due dilligence as far as reviewing each and every inch of the proposed site.
Another thing to note is that the proposed construction site, what amounts to an abandoned parking lot (at least during the summer), the surrounding buildings (RexCorp Plaza on the South side of Hempstead Tpke., the Omni Building to the North and the Marriott Hotel which sits on the extreme East of the site are ALL OWNED BY THE LIGHTHOUSE DEVELOPMENT GROUP! The only piece of land that is not owned by them is the 77 acres where the Coliseum sits.
2) Development in a County that doesn’t develop
No offense to anyone else who has commented so far on this topic, but you simply don’t have the same perspective that I do. I live here. I’m in the thick of it everyday. Nassau County has no available land to develop. It’s a simple fact that really hampers the status quo. Neighborhood after neighborhood of Suburbia has created more TRAFFIC, SEWAGE CONCERNS and ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT than the Lighthouse will in 25 years. The idea is to build to conform to environmental GREEN standards. The Lighthouse is needed to create a new status quo, a “New Suburbia”.
I’m 25 years old. Don’t I deserve a place to live? Finding an apartment on Long Island below $1000 is a challenge at best. What’s wrong with placing a series of “below-market housing”, not “welfare-housing” as someone stated before, next to luxury condos? These units will be utilized by people my age, between 25-34, to stay in a County that is only comprised of 8% of people in that age group. There are no jobs, no place to live and no where to go but off Long Island.
3) Who pays?
This is an issue that can’t even be a concern at this point. For the Lighthouse Development Group, yes. But not for the general public. Funding isn’t even going to be discussed until the Re-Zoning Hearing which is far off in the distance as far as the process goes. Whether the money comes from China or bank loans as I’ve heard directly from some inside in the LDG, it doesn’t matter. This is the ultimate Republican wet dream: A developer (big business) who’s willing to pay for 99% of a development project. You tell me where else you’ve heard that before? Please remember, this is not going to be built in a day. This is an 8-10 year build out process. The money will not be needed all at once. From what I know the $400 million for the Coliseum is the only guaranteed number right now.
Many of you ask: “What’s is Charles Wang’s motive for building this development project?” Allow me to answer that for you.
Charles is has been losing $20 million+ a year on a team since 2000. The lease that Nassau County has for the site is overseen by a third party company that maintains the building called SMG (the same people who take care of Nationwide Arena in Columbus). The lease is so restraining, that the only pure profit the Islanders receive is from their merchandise and their TV deal. Major percentages (in some cases up to 90%) of tickets, parking and concessions all go to SMG and the current lease extends until 2015. If the LDG builds the Project then the lease is re-negotiated to better favor keeping the team on Long Island.
Also of note, Nassau County which loses $1.5 million on the site a year, stands to gain $60-$70 million in fresh tax revenue annually. The Uniondale School District, which will end up enrolling a significant amount of new students just struck a deal with LDG that will pay them huge sums of money (somewhere in the range of $26 million) to fund revitalization of the District.
If you still think that Charles Wang is only the owner of the Islanders to build the Lighthouse then you are seriously mistaken. If you read any newspaper articles from when Wang bought the team in 2000, you’ll find that Nassau County was promising the new owner a new building in 5-7 years. Nassau Coliseum is in disrepair and is no longer viable to contain a major sports franchise.
Not only will this Project be a reason to keep the Islanders where they belong, but it will be a catalyst to the region. New tax revenues, jobs and the opportunity to keep the younger generation around long enough to utilize the tax dollars that are spent on them to educate them on Long Island will be a significant boon the the local economy. After the Lighthouse is constructed, these younger people (myself included) will be re-insert back into the work force and be a part of the “New Suburbia” the Lighthouse will create.
Things That Make You Go...Hmmm
"I believe community outreach was really the key to the success of the hearing and rally today. But I realize, you can't reach everyone. I was very sad to hear from a woman who was 'horrified' by the project and how things were not on the up-and-up informing the community on its impacts. When I attempted to offer her an outreach meeting, or to even bring her in to discuss the project, she declined and refused to tell me who she was."
The Light Post: Official Blog of the Lighthouse Project
It's amazing to me how those opposed to the Lighthouse Project try to justify their claims of opposition with little to no information and then simply turn away from any attempt to help them understand the finer points involved in the Project.
This was a huge event in the process of getting the Lighthouse Project approved. If I'm not mistaken, about 90% of those who came to the Public Hearing were in favor of the Project. It's about time that people who are out of work and watch other towns around North America re-develop and start with a fresh slate, get their chance at a new beginning.
The fight is not over. Our resolve must stay as focused as ever. The Public Comment period ends on August 17th. Keep the pressure on. We need to see this through...
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
9:37 Kate Murray is addressing the massive crowd of supporters. "Goalie" Don Clavin is in attendance.
9:38 The Hearing begins.
9:39 The Lighthouse is of course not the only Public Hearing topic this morning. Most of it is parking-related topics throughout the Town of Hempstead.
9:40 Joe Ra, Attorney for the ToH stated that the Meeting would go until 5PM. If the Lighthouse Project Hearing goes anywhere close to the speed of the Public Hearings now. Then we hopefully we'll get through this pretty easy.
9:43 The Lighthouse is brought forth as the main topic of business.
9:44 Kate Murray just went over the main points of the DGEIS and what the speaking points will be during the procedeeings.
9:45 Remember that August 17th is the last date for the Public Comment period.
9:46 Charles Wang begins his presentation to thunderous applause.
9:49 Video presentation begins with the latest information for the Lighthouse Project.
9:51 The message is simply: "What if it doesn't get constructed?"
9:53 The video has included video from the Marriott meeting and the June 11, 2009 meeting in the Nassau County Executive Building. It is stirring speech after stirring speech from residents of Long Island.
9:56 Mr. Wang thanks those who support the Project a huge massing of groups.
9:57 Over 15,000 letters were sent to the Lighthouse Project in support and those have been turned over to the Town.
10:01 Make sure to check out my Twitter feed where most of the quotes I get will be. My Twitter
10:05 Charles Wang finishes his address to the audience.
10:05 Hofstra President begins his speech to the Board. The President believes that that Hofstra is intertwined with the region (including the proposed Lighthouse site) and that the Board will find a way to compromise and get the Lighthouse done.
"This proposal is crucial to the future of Long Island"
"The benefits to Long Island are enormous"
"This is the time, this is the place and these are the developers to make it happen"
10:08 "We must stop the exodus of the young, professional workforce members"
10:13 Stu Rabinowitz, Hofstra President, ends his speech with a flourish about how the Town Board will get this right.
Nassau County Executive, Tom Suozzi steps up to the podium with "I am an Islander". Gotta love it.
10:15 Tom Suozzi: "50% of Americans live in suburbia"
"There was a large group of people much like this in 1947 that wanted a new way of life: Levittown"
10:16 4 Issues with Nassau County
"Property taxes are too high"
"Only 8% of young people are in Nassau County (23-35)"
"Pockets of poverty in one of the most segregated place in America"
"The final issue is Traffic"
"The Lighthouse Project is the model for 'New Suburbia'"
10:21 "I know that working together, we can resolve the issues of this Project"
Tom Suozzi ends his speech.
10:22 Bishop Bill Murray from the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre steps to the podium.
10:24 "We need a new home, a new vision" --Bishop Murphy
10:26 Comissioner Gary Bettman steps to the podium "I grew up on Long Island"
10:27 "It is clear there is probably no worse Major League facility in North America except for the Nassau Coliseum"
10:30 John Kaiman steps to the podium in place of John Durso (speaking on behalf of the Labor Unions) Kate Murray asks those in the Labor Unions to stand be recognized.
10:33 Jim Castellane steps to the podium and states that "We all represent Long Island"
10:45 Look for a Gary Bettman interview up on IslesBlogger.com
10:46 A Sierra Club representative, a volunteer who made the journey here, speaks mainly about the issue of Water and it's use at the development site. She makes several good points about heavy metals and how much the Project will effect the aquifers of upstate NY.
11:00 Keep following my Twitter feed
I'm going to sign off the blog for now.
I'll be back tonight with pictures from the Public Hearing.
Monday, August 3, 2009
It's been a hard month and half for me blogging-wise to really come up with new content. I'm not really one to just re-hash the news or try to tread on others turf. Let's just say that I hit a creative impasse as far as things to write about.
Well, now I can safely say: "I'M BACK!"
There are so many things that I've been thinking about for weeks to share with you. The Lighthouse Project, the Rookie Scrimmage, as well as recent signings and moves within the organization.
Let me touch on a these subjects beginning with the most important one: The Lighthouse.
It has been a long time coming that we've finally found ourselves on the precipice of a decision. Many of my fellow bloggers have written hundreds of posts about the issue we face and I'd like to acknowledge their efforts. Please, I urge you to visit The Light Post: The Lighthouse Project's Official Blog written by Katrina Doell whose tireless efforts to not only inform the public through the blog and Twitter have been so vital to the education of people interested in the project. Let There be Light(house) by Nick Giglia has also contributed his own brand of eloquent writing and extremely detailed factual information that has lead to explicit understanding of the project and participation throughout our communities. Last but certainly not least, my fellow Blog Boxers, Dee Karl, who writes for both her site, Unique Perspectives of the 7th Woman and for HockeyBuzz, Mike Schuerlein of Islesblogger and several others who have been proponents of the project as long as I can remember as well as mentors to me and an amazing force within Islander Country.
The time has come for YOU, the people of Long Island and around the world, to contribute your voices and your opinions to the building of the Lighthouse Project. Above this post, you'll find banners dedicated to the Rally and March, the Public Hearing and How to Send Comments to the Town of Hempstead regarding the Lighthouse Project. Let your voices be heard as well as your presence felt. Your contribution is vital to the process.
As I stated back in March, right here and now is an unprecedented time in our lives. Back then, as now, history is unfolding right in front of our eyes. What makes this kind of history so special is that we can mold it how we choose. People like you and I have the opportunity to use our voices to move mountains and change policies.
Now, is our time.
Tomorrow, August 4th, 2009 is the most important day that we can show our support for the Lighthouse Project. At 8AM a rally will gather in the Nassau Coliseum Parking Lot 8 to show the world our unwavering endorsement of a project that will help be the catalyst for our well-being as community well into the 21st century. Howie Rose will emcee the event and will introduce special guest speakers who will include NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Lighthouse Project Principal and Islanders owner Charles Wang. Islanders Alumni, many local elected officials and current Islanders current Islanders Josh Bailey and Joel Rechlicz, will be on hand showing their support for the huge development project.
At 8:45AM, the "Just Build It!" march will begin towards the John Cranford Adams Playhouse on the Hofstra campus located across the street. The main hearing will begin at 9:30AM. So if you can't make it to the rally or the march, please try and show your support at the hearing as this will be our final chance to really give those charged with approval an idea of our passion towards the goal of getting a shovel in the ground.
I'm so excited to be a part of this momentous occasion. I've been waiting for this moment in history and can't imagine how this will change my future. If you haven't already, please read this post that I wrote back in February that showcases exactly how I felt then and as I still feel now. I can't begin to replicate the prose that I wrote in that post. It's a piece of writing that is very special to me and describes my passion and desire for this project to the best of my ability.
Isles Notes and Quotes
I have a bulk of material on last month's Rookie Scrimmage. I have plenty of pictures and insight to share and just simply didn't have the impetus to get it all on here. I promise you that you'll see it as soon as I can possibly get all the ideas out of my mind and on to the computer.
I'll also be including some insights into the recent RFA signings of Jack Hillen and Nate Thompson, the hiring of assistant coach Scott Allen, as well as the contract negotiations of Blake Comeau and Matt Martin. There have been plenty of rumors floating around the Isles as well but these need to be put on the back-burner for now.
It's gonna be hard to stay completely on hockey since the Lighthouse Project really deserves to dominate the news. Things are moving along but the work is not done. WE MUST STAY FOCUSED!. We must show up in force to prove to those in political power that the people desire a new economic engine on Long Island. Now is not the time to divert our attention elsewhere! This is the only issue that we as citizens of Long Island need to be concerned with. I hope to see you there tomorrow!