Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Hidden Public Costs," Part II

Since word is getting out that the Lighthouse Project is 97.5% privately financed, opponents are trying to take another tactic. They are now talking about these "hidden public costs" in the form of infrastructure spending by the government. According to their argument, the Lighthouse Development Group may be privately financing the development, but they will still leave taxpayers holding the bag to improve the transportation in the area. This argument is 100% incorrect.

We've seen it in the debate over the economic stimulus that is currently raging in Washington, DC. Conservatives are deriding any spending on infrastructure because they call it "wasteful spending." We've heard the same chorus from Long Islanders who are naturally (and rightly) suspicious of any plan that purports to not cost them a dime. Put simply, infrastructure is not wasteful spending; I see it as an investment in the community. The Lighthouse Development Group is not asking for a handout by privately financing the development itself and positioning the project to receive federal infrastructure dollars. They are developing the land and then hoping to partner with federal and local governments to bring about a full-scale revitalization of the area.

Moody's Economy recently put out a study gauging the "stimulative" effect from certain government expenditures. According to their rigorous analysis, every dollar of infrastructure spending stimulates $1.59 in economic activity, providing a net benefit for the community (Ironically, food stamps are the most stimulative government spending - a dollar in food stamp spending stimulates $1.72 in economic activity). There's your proof right there; infrastructure in conjunction with the Lighthouse Project can ease the traffic concerns in the area and increase economic activity. It is perfectly in line with the walkable, mass transit-accessible "smart growth" suburbs that are rightly taking root all over the country. It is not an EXPENSE, it is an INVESTMENT, yet another investment in Long Island's future that we can hope for as a result of the Lighthouse.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. As always, don't forget to sign the petition and pass it on. I welcome your feedback at

Come back tomorrow where I'll discuss some valuable lessons the Lighthouse could/should learn from another high-density building project in the Town of Hempstead.


  1. Nick, there isn't a single project that would go in that site that wouldn't take some development activity by the county or town. The current system of roads, sewers, etc. was developed for the existing site. No matter what goes there next, there are going to have to be changes in that infrastructure, and governments are going to have to lay out money for that. Since the existing Coliseum without the Islanders there is not a viable future, what it means is that the only future for the site that involves no government expenditures is to tear it down, and put a fence around the border of it. Ask the opponents what project they see that would not involve some government spending.

  2. Couldn't agree more. These 2 posts debunk that exact line of thinking. It seems to me that some opponents are getting more and more desperate to prove their point. I can't understand why there can't just be a reasoned debate about this stuff. It's a bit odd to me that people in favor of the Lighthouse talk about the facts and those against it wail about traffic, attack Charles Wang's character, or dismiss all supporters as "just Islander fans."