Friday, September 25, 2009

Is That A Light at the End of the Tunnel or a Freight Train?


Charles Wang stands before the Town Board of Hempstead pleading his case for approval of Re-Zoning of the proposed development of the Nassau Coliseum site
I'm sure that you've been bombarded by analysis from Tuesday's Re-Zoning Hearing for the Lighthouse Project, but I figured that one more couldn't hurt. I apologize that it's now Friday and I'm finally getting around to this post (two jobs and going full-time to school can hinder some thought processes).

I got to the meeting as it started at about 9:30AM and sat through until about 12PM (then subsequently returned for the last 30 minutes of the evening session). Here's what I gathered from my time sitting on Twitter in the back of the room with the rest of the media types:

The Town Board was "cordial" and "polite"...for all of about 5 minutes. I have no idea how the writers from Newsday, which is owned by Cablevision, who owns MSG, which in turn owns the Rangers, got such a different perspective on the proceedings. It was clear from the get-go that those who supported the Lighthouse Project would be limited in their ability to speak their minds. However, on the flip side, those who were ardently opposed to the Project either due to concerns about the water, the traffic, the height of the buildings or what have you, were getting more than their fair share of time in front of the Board.

At one point during the morning session, it seemed that Garden City's representatives (the most outspoken opponent to the Lighthouse Project or any development for that matter) which included the Mayor, Trustee's, Eastern Property Association members and the like, were given ample time (and were grouped TOGETHER, one after the other for the better part of the morning session) to voice their opinions. However, when Nick from Let There Be Light(house) stepped to the podium (as was pointed out in Islanders Point Blank) he was held to a very strict 2 minutes of speaking time. What were the motives for that I wonder?

**Side Note**: It is only a small minority of citizens and civic leaders that are opposed to the Lighthouse Project in Garden City. Please don't take anything said in relation to Garden City's opposition to infer that the majority of citizens living there are against the Project. It is very much the opposite. Many in Garden City believe the Lighthouse Project to be a positive for all Long Island even in it's current iteration.

What struck me the most while I sat in silence in the back of the room was the absolute disdain that the Town Board exhibited toward Charles Wang, Scott Rechler and their consultants. Councilman Santino, in particular was downright belligerent at times with the Traffic Consultant for the Lighthouse Project, Bob Eschbacher. Meanwhile, the others on the Board simply sat indifferent to the proceedings although sometimes asking half-assed questions about hypothetical situations like people backing out of their driveway on a busy street (that's already choked with traffic during rush hour), what would happen if someone ran a red light that doesn't even exist yet or the that height and density of the buildings is a concern because it will seem too much like "The City". If they actually took the time, the Lighthouse Project provided those observations and data in with the voluminous 6,500+ pages of the DGEIS on February 24th!

Unfortunately, I was in class for the dramatic conclusion of the "Traffic Analysis" by the Town Board, so I didn't get to see Charles Wang lose his cool after several hours of interrogation of Bob Eschbacher. What I took away from the whole argument was that the traffic mitigation measures (which were approved by State DOT and DWP) were more geared to roadways leading to the site than actual roads in and around the proposed construction area. Improvements to the Meadowbrook Parkway and Hempstead Tpke. and the roads 1/2 mile from the site and beyond are the State and Town's responsibility and the Lighthouse is merely providing the data, analysis and suggestions to ease the traffic burden(public transportation) to better serve the area in which they're building. Only one Town Board member (I apologize, I didn't catch who it was) pointed out that it was more important to the process to discuss roadways that directly affected the Lighthouse site as opposed to mitigation measures on roadways that would lead to the site (think about the entrance ramp onto the Meadowbrook Pkwy. from the Southern State, which Councilman Santino espoused about for nearly half an hour).

Furthermore, I'd like to address the water and sewage concerns, which are not to be taken lightly at all. If I have my facts straight, the Lighthouse Development Group has entered into negotiations with Nassau Community College (where I'm presently enrolled) to build a well near the Hempstead Plains on the eastern edge of campus. Why exactly, would the lease need to be hammered out for that portion of construction BEFORE the Town Board has even approved the final scope of the Project as a whole? Councilman Santino seemed to think that the well needed to be approved ahead of the rest of the Project (somehow subverting the entire State mandated process). Nice of you to make that clear for us there Santino!

With that said, the consulting company for water distribution and sewage removal, H2M, which is contracted both by the Lighthouse Group AND the Town of Hempstead, went into some detail as to the most recent data concluded. Currently, the area is running at 1 million gallons surplus and the Lighthouse, once fully constructed in 10 years or so, would only draw 0.8% of the total water supply! Pretty damning stuff that the Board was more than a little irked about as they asked the same question of the consultant in about 20 different ways.

In my conclusion, as well as others, this hearing was nothing more than political grandstanding. The Town Board was clearly ticked about the very well-publicized and blatant "shot across the bow" that was the Kansas City pre-season game and they made sure to exact some public revenge. More than once, Board members seemed to be patting themselves on the back, smiling to themselves with an air of, "I just asked an intelligent question that will probably stump this analyst and make the LDG look like a bunch of fools". Not only only were some of the questions wreaking of ignorance, at times they bordered on immature banter to satisfy personal ego.

With all the public politics out of the way, it's time to get down to the real business. It has been a proper assumption since this process started that the Lighthouse would look nothing like the original plans once all was said and done. Now is the time for compromise. It's not unusual for a developer to shoot for the moon and then work out a deal with the municipality to scale back parts of a project. That's how real estate works.

Will the towers be 450ft. once they're completed? Probably not. Personally, I think they'll be just a bit taller or shorter than Nassau County Medical Center (2 miles to the East). Will the roadways be able to handle the increased daily traffic to and from the site? It's very likely that there will be initial growing pains. However, once completed, I believe that the measures being hashed out now will be a great help to mitigating traffic in the surrounding area and beyond. Will the Lighthouse be a destination for all those living on and visiting Long Island? Absolutely.

For all the politics, I still believe that the Town of Hempstead knows the kind of spot they're in. The public overwhelmingly supports the Project and they're jobs are on the line if they don't come through. On top of that, the Lighthouse Group submitted nearly 5,000 pages of FGEIS which was supposed to have been completed BY THE TOWN and their consultant FP Clark. However, due to the events earlier this month, the SEQRA mandated deadline of September 18th came and went. Now is the time to sit down and work out the details in a civil manner. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty and finally BUILD THE LIGHTHOUSE!

**Side Note #2**: It has come to my attention that the Lighthouse Group approached the Town of Hempstead following the Re-Zoning Hearing in an attempt to come to a compromise. As of yesterday, the Town of Hempstead had refused to sit down and discuss the options.

Today, however, reports filtered out of the Town of Hempstead that they were preparing to offer the Lighthouse Group a scaled-down version of the Project. I'm not totally convinced that this is the case but it seems logical from the standpoint that the Town of Hempstead certainly understands what kind of support the Project has and still is receiving. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Re-Zoning Hearing Has Begun!


Catch all of my updates for this morning's Re-zoning Hearing's session on my Twitter at @NYIsles10. Everything will be on there. Enjoy the updates! Hopefully, things will move smoothly.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Time Yet Again to Savalge Our Hopes and Dreams


September 22nd Re-zoning Hearing to be held at the John Adams Playhouse on the Hofstra Campus beginning at 9 AM.  Come Show Your Support!

Long Islanders Unite!

The horizon, that finish line in the distance, is finally upon us and we have to stand up yet again and fight for a new beginning. Tomorrow, Tuesday September 22nd at 9:00AM at the John Adams Playhouse on the Hofstra Campus, the Re-zoning Hearing for the Lighthouse Project (minus the all-crucial vote on the matter) will begin in earnest as the process creeps slowly forward. We need your help to advocate yet again for your future, your children's future and their children's future. We must stand up and fight for what we believe in: The Lighthouse Project and the Islanders remaining where they belong in Nassau County.

There have been many roadblocks and many small victories along the way. However, now as the Environmental Review Process starts to wrap up and the details of the Project hopefully will be put into place, reports have come to light that there may be those who truly do not want a stake in this future that Charles Wang and Scott Rechler are trying to build. It is imperative that we again show our support and prove to those in political positions of influence that this is a Project worth constructing. Let your voices be heard and your presence be felt.

Now is our time! Join me and many of your fellow supporters tomorrow in one united front to get this Project closer to being approved.

I hope to see you there tomorrow morning.

SessionsMorning SessionBreakAfternoon SessionEvening Session

Friday, September 18, 2009

Revisiting Hits to the Head


Kyle Okposo is wheeled off the ice on a stretcher after a vicious open-ice hit by Dion Phaneuf.  Photo courtesy of NY Newsday
If you're an Islander fan, by now you've heard what happened last night when one of our bright young players was viciously hit in the head with little relevance to the play. Kyle Okposo was hit in open-ice by a very suspect impact initiated by Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Here's my breakdown of the play (UPDATED):

Okposo skates up the middle of the ice with the puck barely hanging on to his blade. He’s covered by 2 Flames players, the forward who is properly back-checking and the the left defenseman who is in position to force Okposo to the outside.

Phaneuf conciously makes a decision to skate OUT OF HIS LANE as a right defenseman to come after Okposo.

Okposo loses the puck to a good back-check by the forward and is extending to regain control and if you’ve ever played the game in this situation you almost certainly have your head down (even at the NHL level) to spot the puck.

Phaneuf keeps his elbow IN, until the force of the impact drives his arm up and out. This was a shoulder check with an elbow follow through. Not uncommon but certainly not warranted in open-ice. What irks me about the hit is the total irrelevance to the play as a whole and the fact that he does LEAVE HIS FEET to deliver the hit. Phaneuf has no necessity to be on that side of the ice as proper defensive technique dictates that he stay on his side of the ice (again, if you’ve ever played, this was taught to you).

Frankly, IMHO this was a dirty hit. Regular season, pre-season, playoffs is irrelevant. As far as relevance to the play and the idea of fair-play and keeping an opponent’s well-being in mind in relation to the position he’s in at that moment, Phaneuf disregarded everything that makes this game great.

I ask those of you who think this is a clean hit, what happens at the end of a playoff series? The teams shake hands, right? Well, if this happened in the Western Conference Finals for example, I can guarantee you that there would be a bench clearing brawl. There is a certain etiquette that every hockey player lives and dies by:

Phaneuf stepped over the line and deserves a suspension. What should be 5 games minimum won’t even be a slap on the wrist but at least we know it should be that long.

What I really like about the Islanders response was that it wasn't the usual guys who came to Kyle's defense. Pascal Morency (although deserving of a suspension) should be praised for going after Phaneuf in retaliation albeit jumping over the boards to go after him. Matt Martin should also get some merit points in the eyes of the coaching staff for trying to get to Phaneuf as well. Even Marty Biron got in on the act. These are 3 players (2 of them brand new to the organization) that understand that the team is more important than themselves. This could have been a tragic incident, but thankfully it wasn't. I'm just glad that Kyle is okay and that the Islanders showed some feistiness immediately after the hit (unlike with Mottau and Frans Nielsen last season).

Whatever suspensions get handed down, be prepared for the contingency that only one player will receive anything (Pascal Morency). If Dion Phaneuf gets anything for this vicious hit to the head I'll be surprised.

Keep following Katie Strang and her blog Isles Files for the latest updates on Kyle's condition. As of right now, the PR dept. is saying it's a "mild concussion". I'm sure we'll find out more as the weekend gets underway.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Other Sites with News on Last Night's Hit

  • Dom over at Lighthouse Hockey has a couple of posts on the matter.

  • Dee Karl, the 7th Woman weighed in on both Hockeybuzz and her own site.

  • Okposo Net's Ken obviously had his take on Kyle's condition and the hit itself.

  • On the brighter side of things, Islanders Point Blank delivers some good news at least.

  • Ken over at Islanders Outsider has some thoughts on the game and the hit.

  • Link Updates 2:30PM
  • My buddy Justin Bourne over at Bourne's Blog had a former pro player's angle on the Phaneuf/Okposo incident. (A really good read!)

  • Islanders Point Blank let's Calgary fans and players know his opinon on how Phaneuf should "man-up" and face the music.

  • Dom over at Lighthouse Hockey has a nice assemblage of links about the subject matter as well.
  • Monday, September 14, 2009

    The Day We've All Been Waiting For...


    It's been a rough time for Islanders fans since April 14th, 2009 when we first learned that we had won the Draft Lottery and the right to choose John Tavares. Since Draft Weekend where all our hopes and cries for sanity were answered, there really hasn't been much to talk about. At 10:30PM tonight, albeit on a 30-minute delay, we'll finally have something to discuss: IT'S TIME FOR SOME ISLANDERS HOCKEY, BABY!

    So get those chips and dip ready, we've got some ACTUAL hockey to watch. I can't imagine how excited the residents of Terrace, B.C. are right now. They've had a few days to soak it all in with visits from Lord Stanley and former hockey greats, Bryan Trottier, Cliff Ronning, Dave Babych and Cassie Campbell. For a town of about 15,000 residents, this has to be the most exciting event that's ever happened for them.

    As Ken Morrow stated in his interview with in reference to the Islanders second appearance in the Kraft Hockeyville game:

    "I think it's a fantastic idea -- one of the best marketing ideas I've ever seen, really. You've got all these towns across Canada who are involved in this. What a fantastic thing to be associated with. Everybody's excited."

    My question here is: Why can't American hockey fans do something similar? Wouldn't it be great to have NHL hockey go to the small towns across the USA? You know, non-traditional markets? Oh wait, what's that? We're fighting to keep the Coyotes in...Phoenix? Oh, well. There goes that idea.

    Don't forget to tune in tonight for our first taste of NHL hockey action since the beginning of April. I know I'll be up late tonight.

    Catch the game between the Isles and Vancouver Canucks on MSG+ Channels 88 and 717 on Cablevision iO and/or on the NHL Network.

    I'll be catching up on some Training Camp news as much as I can (school is keeping me really busy and it's only been 1 week). Keep checking Newsday's Katie Strang's Blog, Isles Files and her Twitter account @KatieStrangNYI for the latest and greatest from Saskatchewan and Islanders Training Camp.

    Saturday, September 12, 2009

    Better Late than Never: Photos from Prospect Camp


    With the big camp starting today, I figured I'd reach in to my photo archive and post the pictures from the Prospect Camp. Take a gander and hopefully this holds you over until I get some real material from camp and the recent Lighthouse Project mayhem. Have a great weekend!

    If you have any questions about what players are what just let me know. I'll give you hint about the huge goalie in blue pads though: Mikko Koskinen.

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    Remembering a Day That Will Never Be Forgotten and Looking Toward the Future


    NYC, NY  09/11/01  WTCCRASH  : Firemen raised a flag where WTC was.    -Thomas E. Franklin / The Record - (Bergen County NJ)
    I'm sorry that I haven't been around much this summer to write. Things in my life have turned from hectic to damn near apocalyptic as I've decided to go back to school full time, work at my current job, keep my reffing up (which consequently starts this weekend) and write for this blog. With all the hubbub going on, something had to fall to the wayside and unfortunately for my fans and avid readers, the blog took the biggest brunt of my inability to focus on one thing. For that I apologize.

    As the season approaches and the Islanders prepare for Training Camp, which begins tomorrow, I'd like to take a solemn moment to remember the lives that were lost on that fateful day eight years ago:

    September 11, 2001 will always be an indellible date in my mind for as long as I live. I will always remember where I was and what I was doing. I will mourn those lives that were lost and those families and friends that were plunged into darkness by the actions of those who filled their hearts with hate. Today is a day that will remain in my memory for those who have risked their lives for our country and our way of life. This is the day that will never be forgotten...

    Islanders Related Material

    I know things have begun to awaken as the season approaches and I just wanted to clue you in on what will be going on here at Official's Outlook as well as Lighthouse Hockey.

    1) With the decision to dissolve the radio broadcasts for the Islanders and move to simulcast, the NYI Blog Box has decided to try and delve into the world of Podcasts. Be on the look out for an announcement from me on when this ball will get rolling. I can promise you that I will try my hardest to get the NYI Blog Box Radio Show off the ground before the season opener.

    2) The Lighthouse Project has reached a tipping point in its ongoing political struggle with the Town of Hempstead. Things are still looking up, but your help is still needed to persuade the lawmakers to do what is right and necessary for the residents of Long Island. We still need to stand firm on our support for the Lighthouse.

    3) Training Camp begins tomorrow. The season is upon us. John Tavares is about to finally step on the ice as an official member of the New York Islanders. The future looks bright. Let's hope that this year is another of building chemistry and progressing the rebuild.


    4) I will be splitting my time between this site and Lighthouse Hockey. I'm not sure exactly what I will be covering over there, but I urge you to check out the site and post your comments, thoughts and ideas. Dom runs a really cutting edge operation and I hope to provide him with even more ammunition as the season gets under way.

    I know that I've been remiss over the summer and I'm looking to right the ship as my own future gets a fresh start. Keep your ears and eyes open. Things on just about every front are going to bust wide open...very soon. I hope everyone had a pleasant and relaxing summer, but now it's time to get down to business.