Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mythbustin' Tuesday - Shining Light

This picture will accompany all future mythbustin' articles.

Despite the best efforts of myself and citizens like you who support the Lighthouse, there are still a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the project. In an effort to educate people, this is the first in a series I've dubbed "Shining Light," where we expose myths and half-truths about the Lighthouse Project.

Nassau County will never approve the plans for the Lighthouse.

FALSE - Nassau County voted, 16-2, to name the Lighthouse Development Group developers of the Coliseum site in 2006, after a competitive bidding process. (Source)

The Town of Hempstead has authority to approve the Lighthouse.

FALSE - Nassau County, as the land owner, approved the Lighthouse. The Town of Hempstead controls the zoning of the land, so they need to approve the zoning changes in order for construction to begin. This is why the petition to the Town of Hempstead is entitled "Approve the Lighthouse Re-Zoning Application."

The review process has been going on for years, and the Town of Hempstead is dragging its feet.

FALSE - The Lighthouse group submitted the initial re-zoning application to the Town of Hempstead in November of 2007. The environmental review, which is mandated by state law, began in June of 2008, so it has now been 8 months.

The environmental review should not have gone on this long.

FALSE - I have heard whispers that the Environmental Impact Statement is either done or very close to done. This thorough review, which I will explain in a new post later this week, was mandated by state law. It could have been done quicker, but it would have left the Lighthouse open to a challenge. If the challenge was successful, State law requires the environmental review to start over from the beginning. (Source)

Taxpayer money will be used as part of the Lighthouse Project.

TRUE - However, it's not the whole story. The Lighthouse group is asking for $76 million, from a state grant that was approved 10 years ago. That is 2.5% of the overall cost, aka 1/30 the average public cost for a new arena development. In addition, all federal and local money will be used for infrastructure improvement, which improves quality of life and will spur economic activity. You can read more in my previous post (and sequel) about the subject.

They should build the Coliseum first and then worry about the rest of the Project.

FALSE - My explanation can be found here. In addition, if the Coliseum by itself was a good project that provided the largest benefit, why didn't Nassau County solicit bids for just the Coliseum? Also, if that was such a good money-making bet, why didn't anybody submit a bid based on that?

Nassau County is giving the Lighthouse group ownership of the property.

FALSE - Nassau County will retain ownership of the land and will negotiate a lease agreement with the Lighthouse group. The County currently loses $1.5 million on the Coliseum site, and based on the current lease outlines the County could see a net gain of $3 million per year. (Source)

The Lighthouse Project will not succeed because traffic will still be an issue.

FALSE - Traffic is the easiest excuse for killing a project on Long Island. The Lighthouse group has smartly refused to tie itself to a specific transportation alternative before approval. Once the project is approved, transportation options will be discussed, and federal infrastructure money will be available to alleviate traffic concerns. I am preparing an entire segment on transportation options in conjunction with a person who knows more about Long Island and New York mass transit than anyone I've ever met.

Only Islanders fans support the Lighthouse

FALSE - I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of citizens who are in favor of the Lighthouse and who could not name 3 players on the Islanders. These citizens realize the Lighthouse is an opportunity for everyone, so it is condescending and just plain wrong to generalize all supporters as merely "Islanders fans."

Residents of Long Island will never support the Lighthouse.

FALSE - Organized opposition has not emerged thanks to the Lighthouse group's conscious efforts to engage the community. At the public hearings I attended last spring, I would say at least 75% of the speakers were in favor of the Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse Project will be built in phases.

TRUE - The Lighthouse web site estimates the project will be built over 8-10 years.

The Lighthouse Project is about far more than hockey

TRUE - A million times true. This is about a new way forward for our Island. This could and should be the catalyst for new thinking about development in America's First Suburb.

Ground-breaking is the next step.

FALSE - The next step in the process is mandatory public comments. Based on new information, I anticipate those will be held in March-April. This is the final opportunity for citizens to have their voices heard on the project before final scoping, lease negotiations, and ground-breaking. I hope everyone plans to attend at least one hearing if it's at all possible.

I hope you pass this article along to anybody who needs a nudge in the right direction. Principled opposition is one thing, but opposition based on innuendo and flat-out falsehoods is another thing altogether.

I welcome your thoughts in the comments section, and it'd be even better if anybody out there has heard rumor or innuendo they want addressed in a future piece. As always, don't forget to sign the petition and pass it on. I welcome your feedback at lettherebelighthouse@gmail.com

Reminder: White-out for the Lighthouse this Saturday, 2/21, at Nassau Coliseum. Wear a white shirt in support of the Lighthouse.


  1. Well said! Been reading since the blog was created.

  2. Great piece, Nick.

    I know this is about way more than hockey, but when I get queries from non-Islanders hockey fans I inevitably direct them to this blog or tell them something I've read here.

    The story gets easily simplified and skewed when it's relayed around the rest of North America, so it's nice to be able to step back and say, "look, this is where things stand."

  3. I love it, Nick!
    I wish everyone who thinks they know all the facts would read this. :)

  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone. As I mentioned in the post, if there are other misconceptions/rumors that you've heard and that aren't addressed here, feel free to post them or email me - lettherebelighthouse@gmail.com - for a future segment.

  5. Thanks for your work Nick, this site is a regular stop for me and knowing the correct info about this important project is imperative.