Monday, August 31, 2009

Anyone..Anyone? Murray? Bueller?

The longer post will be coming tomorrow, and it may even be split into a few different pieces, as it's a weighty and long subject. I apologize for being in and out; but I've been very busy with "Real Life" and that combined with a somewhat slow news period. I will keep up as things come up.

Anyway, on we go:

It's an understatement to say that the Lighthouse approval process has been a roller coaster. I did not want this blog to become a Kate Murray Bashfest, like so many other sites had become with little to no reason. However, actions such as the phony stimulus drive left me no choice, and I amped up the criticism. Things did not look good at this point, and even though I never lost my belief that this would get done, I could not deny the appearance.

Suddenly, after the June 2 Long Island Regional Planning Council meeting, it was like a light went off. The day before the hearing, Kate Murray had expressed doubts to the Garden City Eastern Property Owners' Association (in perfect view of my dear friend Christine Mullaney, who after 3 weeks has still not contacted me) that we would even have a public hearing in the summer. Despite this, we had a public hearing on August 4, a hearing that showed, once again, overwhelming support for the Lighthouse Project, another step toward making our Island dream a reality.

I think all Lighthouse supporters moved forward from that meeting filled with hope and setting their sites on the next big milestone: the re-zoning hearing. I began contacting people within the Town of Hempstead to get a good idea of what we could expect next.


I will attempt to follow up again, of course, but I am not alone here. Other bloggers have not heard from the Town, and there have not been many articles in Newsday or any other major publication. Both sides seem to be re-entrenching themselves, with Tom Suozzi and Lighthouse President Michael Picker criticizing the Town of Hempstead for not scheduling a re-zoning hearing yet, and the Town pushing back by reverting to discussions about "process."

After it seemed like there had been too much momentum to go back, that article sounded like we are going straight back to March or April. There is no movement on a final scope, no movement on an FEIS, and no movement on a re-zoning hearing. This, to me, begs the question:

What changed?

Is there something going on behind the scenes that we don't know?

How did we revert so quickly back to both sides pushing each other from entrenched positions?

Is there a negotiation going on behind the scenes?

This change is far too sudden to be accidental, and I hope to either see a thaw in relations or an explanation very soon.

The Deadline?

I have said this before, and I will say it again: I sincerely hope that Charles Wang's self-imposed deadline of October 3 for "certainty" (re-zoning approval) is met, and that we can move forward. However, at this point, it does not look good. I have a few planned pieces depending on how this goes, so stay tuned.

Bottom Line

I don't think I, or anybody else who has invested so much into advocating for this project on behalf of our home, can go back now. We had a few very tense months, where it looked like the Town of Hempstead wanted to do nothing more than stall and close its eyes until the Lighthouse Project, and all its supporters, went away. So many were convinced that this was dead in the water, and we were waiting for some glimmer of hope, even though I never lost my optimism (I thought it was just a Dip).

Suddenly, at the beginning of June, it was like a complete 180 - here came the sun, and it seemed like years since it's been clear. We had a relatively peaceful summer, and suddenly approval looked pretty likely.

Since the August 4 public hearing, we have had radio silence from the Town of Hempstead, and it seems on the surface that things have reverted back to the spring mentality. The Lighthouse and Tom Suozzi have been pushing for a quick re-zoning hearing, and the Town has been pushing back and punting on the issue.

I'm reaching out, once again, to the Town of Hempstead, and I hope to make the message very clear:

This must stop.

We will not go back to secrecy.

If something is wrong, tell us.

Keep us in the loop.

I don't want to go back to the vitriol. I - and many others - just want to know....When will we go forward?

Coming Soon

A long post (and possibly a series) that answers a very interesting question that someone who reads this site asked me: Why, with such a high-profile project and so many residents of Long Island, did only 850 (or so) people care to write a public comment?

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  1. I too am wondering about the silence...or worse yet the articles that are coming out in Newsday seem to have a negative twist on the project...remember if this project goes away, so do the Islanders....which means that the tax revenue that they currently bring in will disappear too.

  2. Well, we know there's a certain Newsday reporter who is for some reason all too eager to report negative things about the Lighthouse.

    I can't understand - like you - how we went so quickly from cooperation back to a siege mentality. I don't want to re-start the rancor or criticism (though I will if necessary); I just want to hear from them.

  3. Nick,

    The Newsday negative twist has been gnawing qat me. Anyone who has read that paper over the years has to have realized that the paper would never side with a local Republican politician. Never. The editorial board of that paper traditionally has been more liberal than the New York Times. For them now to be "siding" with the Town on the LHP makes no sense, unless of course, the Dolans now control the Board.

  4. mrlbem - I really think it's that one particular reporter. Their editorial board has strongly endorsed the Lighthouse, and their commentators like Ellis Henican are 100% behind it.

    However, it should raise questions that this isn't front-page news, and the upcoming piece and/or series will delve into this, partially. It's time to expose this.

  5. Yup- and Nick you know I agree about that one particular reporter, as well.

    An additional frustration that comes from- well, nothing- is seeing how wildly the pendulum shifts with many Isles fans. Now all of the sudden there are fans declaring that this wil never get done, there isnt a soul in the govt willing to support it, etc etc etc etc etc. To them, its like the entire summer didnt even happen.