Back in 2003/2004 after being told by then County Executive Tom Suozzi that Nassau County couldn't afford to fix up the Nassau Coliseum & that he should think of something so our New York Islanders could get a new home, team owner Charles B. Wang came up with the Lighthouse Project.
The original proposal called for a transformed Nassau Coliseum, a 60 story Lighthouse and various housing, retail and office development. After public demand Wang redid the proposal taking out the 60 story Lighthouse and adding two smaller hotels. Fast forward to the summer of 2009 and after needing the help of County Executive Tom Suozzi to get both Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Wang in the same room it was decided that in August there would be a public hearing regarding environmental issues with regard to the project. At the hearing Wang received a huge ovation as approx 99% of the crowd was made up of Islander fans as well as labor people who were currently unemployed, and according to stats the unemployment rate in the unions represented was around 30-35%. Then after that the town of Hempstead was mum on things for a few weeks they set a date for the rezoning hearing which took place about six weeks later. It was at that hearing that after seeing his experts grilled by the politicians of the Town of Hempstead for multiple hours that Charles lost his cool and essentially asked the board to show his experts more respect. After this hearing we wouldn't hear another word on the Lighthouse for about 11 months til the middle of July, 2010 when the town of Hempstead with the help of Westchester based firm FP Clarke announced their plans for a scaled back Lighthouse Project. This plan called for an approximate 75% cut back in the Lighthouse. Either the same day the proposal was made public or the next day Wang and now County Executive Edward P. Mangano issued a statement stating that the towns redevelopment plan was not economically feasible given the fact that the project was to be privately financed by Wang and his then partner Scott Rechler. That scale back essentially ended the Lighthouse as we knew it.
Now fast forward to about a week and a half ago and you had Wang, Mangano and Kate Murray all on stage to announce a plan for a referendum in the neighborhood of 400 million dollars to build a new Coliseum as well as a minor league ball park. It was pretty ironic that you saw Wang and Kate on stage with each other since it was because of that woman that we were still sitting in that place with no signs of progress asking the public to enter into a partnership so we can get a new Coliseum instead of using Wangs privately financed project to get it. Sure I don't think her hand wasn't forced so to speak however she still made the decision to treat the Lighthouse as she did. Now in about 31 and a half hours we have a rally of sorts for this referendum thats on the table, while I think the Lighthouse was the far better plan I encourage all of you that are able to go to attend this rally in front of the Coliseum on Monday at 11:30, then the public hearing the next day at the Nassau Legislatures office in Mineola and then hope that the legislature agrees to have the vote on the ballot for 8/1. The power right now is no longer with the Politicians its with us. The politicians had their chance and they couldn't get anything done and now they've left it up to us, let get this approved so we can show the rest of LI and the rest of the nation that development can take place on Long Island so maybe we can start to thrive instead of losing our young people by the busloads and losing businesses such as OSI Pharmaceuticals, also show politicians that even if they can't overcome party lines to do whats best for us that we can come together and do whats best for us.
Our Long Island Dream is now just that a dream and we have politicians to thank for that however don't lose hope and make sure on 8/1 you and every single person you know vote yes so we can finally get much needed development in the "hub" area and finally after all these years finally get us a new building!!
On both Monday and Tuesday check us out on twitter @savetheisles for tweets and maybe some pics from the rally on Monday and hearing on tuesday.