Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where Are We, and What Can I Do? Part 1

Welcome to all new readers. This is the first part of what I hope will be a semi-regular feature updating you on the process and potential ways to help.

As of today, January 27, 2009, the environmental reviews for the Lighthouse Project are going forward. The Town of Hempstead was not incorrect or passing the buck by pointing out the environmental review and the laborious nature of it. This environmental review is mandated by state law for all building projects, large and small. It must be thorough since an inadequate review could cause a citizen to challenge the process, and a successful challenge would throw us all the way back to Square One. Anyway, the review has been going on since the public hearings began in June of 2008. According to recent comments from people working within the Lighthouse Development Group, the very long process is nearing an end, and the environmental review should be complete within 30-60 days. (Stay tuned: there will be a detailed explanation of SEQR - the New York State Environmental Quality Review - at a later point)

There are still many steps left in this journey once environmental reviews are over:

Public Comments

After the Town of Hempstead looks over the environmental review document, they will be bound by law to hold hearings and listen to public comments on the project. This is in many ways the most vital part of the process from here on out. We must be vigilant and make sure the Town of Hempstead schedules these hearings in a timely manner. An indefinite delay in public comments could slow momentum and result in a form of pocket veto for the Lighthouse (aren't you glad to hear all these terms in a blog that's supposedly about the Islanders and the Lighthouse Project?).

In addition, we will be exhorting people who favor the project to show up at these public hearings to make their numbers seen and their voices heard. We can't take anything for granted.

Final Scoping

As public comments continue, the Lighthouse group will work with the Town of Hempstead on final scoping of the project. I have never once assumed the final project will look exactly like the renderings, but this will be an interesting point in the process. As I pointed out earlier, this is a negotiation, and if the support for this project among voters is as wide as I expect it is, the Town of Hempstead could be far more amenable to allowing more extensive development.

In this phase, the Lighthouse and Town will also work on mitigating any potential negative factors discussed in the environmental review.

Lease Negotiations

Once the scope is finalized, Nassau County re-enters the picture. It is important to note here that Nassau County will not be selling the land; they will negotiate LEASE terms with the Lighthouse group. It makes sense to do this last, since you can't negotiate fair terms of a lease when you do not know how extensive the development will be.

Shovels in the Ground

After these steps are completed, the construction on the Coliseum renovations can begin. As we discussed in the Comments of the previous thread, the Coliseum is the first part of the project construction.

The optimistic estimate is for construction to start this summer, soon after hockey season ends. In reality, depending on the pace of negotiations, construction can begin anytime from April - December of this year or, more likely, immediately after next season.

The Islanders' decision to train in Saskatoon should not be considered anything like a bad sign. Remember, they plan to have construction at the Coliseum the next few summers, so how could they train there?

So, What Can I Do?

We will have many more details on this in the coming weeks. Right now, coming to this site and the wonderful blog kept by Katrina from the Lighthouse can keep you informed of the goings on within the project. You can always reach out to her for anything you need directly from the Lighthouse - she's always very receptive to my questions and issues.

In a macro sense, continuing to write letters and make phone calls to your local elected officials will only help. I've borrowed this from Matt, a poster on Chris Botta's wonderful site, but this will help for Town of Hempstead officials (thanks Matt):

To contact your town board representative, call (516) 489-5000, ext. 3200 or write to: Hempstead Town Hall, One Washington Street, Hempstead, New York 11550.

District 1 - Dorothy L. Goosby - Lakeview, Roosevelt, Uniondale, and portions of Baldwin, Freeport, West Hempstead and Lynbrook.

District 2 - Edward A. Ambrosino - Bellerose Terrace, Elmont, Floral Park, Garden City, Garden City South, the incorporated area of New Hyde Park, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor, and portions of Bellerose, Franklin Square, North Valley Stream and West Hempstead.

District 3 - James Darcy - Part of Franklin Square, part of North Valley Stream, Valley Stream, Malverne, most of Lynbrook, Mill Brook, North Woodmere, Woodmere, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Inwood, Atlantic Beach and Meadowmere Park.

District 4 - Anthony J. Santino - East Rockaway, Hewlett, Island Park, Oceanside, Rockville Centre, South Hempstead, and a portion of Lynbrook.

I am posting this on every islanders board I can find.

District 5 - Angie M. Cullin - Barnum Island, Bellmore, Lido Beach, Merrick and Point Lookout; and parts of Freeport, North Bellmore, North Merrick, Seaford and Wantagh.

District 6 - Gary Hudes - East Meadow, Levittown, Plainedge, Salisbury and portions of Bethpage, North Bellmore, North Merrick, Seaford and Wantagh.

For those of you in Nassau County, you can contact your legislator by writing to: Nassau County Legislature, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola, NY 11501, or call 516-571-6200. Here is the legislative roster; click on the name for a map of their district:

Legislative District (LD) 1 - Kevin Abrahams

LD 2 - Roger Corbin

LD 3 - John Ciotti

LD 4 - Denise Ford

LD 5 - Joseph Scannell

LD 6 - Francis Becker

LD 7 - Jeffrey Toback

LD 8 - Vincent Muscarella

LD 9 - Richard Nicolello

LD 10 - Judy Bosworth

LD 11 - Wayne Wink

LD 12 - Peter Schmitt

LD 13 - Norma Gonsalves

LD 14 - David Mejias

LD 15 - Dennis Dunne

LD 16 - Judy Jacobs

LD 17 - Edward Mangano

LD 18 - Diane Yatauro

LD 19 - David Denenberg

Remember guys, politicians respond to VOTES and VOTERS. Make your support clear!

Also, as always, don't forget to sign the petition and pass it on. Also - the donations page is to support the petition site and not our group. Please ignore that - I will likely eventually put up the money to make sure that pop-up doesn't come back.


  1. I work in the Town of Riverhead and they are trying to build an indoor ski center along with about 8 other amenities. In a way, its very similar to the scale of the Lighthouse without an arena or pro team. The town board is going through hell trying to get it passed the Environmental groups mainly because Owls and Salamanders live on the property. Just like the Lighthouse, this will give thousands of construction jobs and permanent jobs after the fact. It makes no sense why people hold it up.

    The good news is, it looks like it eventually will get done. I feel the same for the Lighthouse it would be nice to see Kate Murray and Co. make a statement which resembles that notion.

  2. Right on, 316. I have a very funny environmental review/wildlife story that I'm saving for the detailed explanation of SEQR.

    I think this is what we're all waiting for - we want someone, anyone from the Town of Hempstead to acknowledge the large amount of private investment in the community and the myriad benefits (jobs, tax revenues, etc) the project will bring. All we ever hear is how complex it is.