Wednesday, February 10, 2010


UNIONDALE, NY - AUGUST 04:  Fans rally for sup...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
(Media Alert: I was on the excellent Preds on the Glass radio show this past Monday, sharing the new Lighthouse news and handicapping yesterdays Islanders/Predators matchup.  The excellent Michelle Kenneth and Anthony Curatolo of Crash the Crease and The Hockey Guys podcast also appeared.  Check it out)

Yesterday at Town Hall, before a "roll back the raises" protest began, the Town of Hempstead voted unanimously to authorize its environmental consultant, Frederick P. Clark Associates, to prepare an alternative zoning plan for the Nassau Coliseum property.

This represents a major reversal for the Town of Hempstead, which has since 2003 refused to meet with the Lighthouse Development Group or Nassau County to discuss their vision for the 77-acre county-owned property, even though they hold final zoning authority over whatever is built there.

The Town of Hempstead credited itself for taking this "unusual step" in an effort to "jump-start the zoning process," which has stalled in previous months as the Lighthouse Project has gone dark and apparently ceased paying its bills to F.P. Clark, as it is required by law to do.

The Town of Hempstead, which appears to be financing this alternative zoning plan itself, outlined three main goals for the plan, which they expect will be finished in the summer of this year:

  1. It has to be a mixed-use development.
  2. A renovation plan for Nassau Coliseum, to keep the New York Islanders in the Town of Hempstead, must be included.
  3. The plan must serve as a model for "responsible" development.
The Town of Hempstead repeatedly indicated a willingness to work with Charles Wang, who was not present, because of the still-in-effect Designated Developer Agreement (DDA) between Nassau County and the Lighthouse Development Group.

Very few speakers attended, though our old friends from the Garden City Eastern Property Owners' Association made sure to tell the Town every problem they had with the project, and to characterize the behavior of Lighthouse supporters and the hearings in general as "awful" (I know, nice touch).  Many others continued to use the same tired and discredited arguments against the project, such as citing current vacancy rates for office space and retail (Long Island has an abundance of Class B office space but is in dire need of Class A - the Class A space in the Lighthouse would actually grow the market, as would the retail, rather than cannibalize what's currently there).  Still others cited the terrible conditions of the economy, because apparently the current conditions will hold in perpetuity and we should not do anything, anywhere, ever.

You can look at this development, the first significant movement in the Lighthouse approval process in months, with either an optimistic or pessimistic view:

Optimistic View

The Town of Hempstead is finally coming forward with its own counter-proposal, and it is pledging to work with the Lighthouse every step of the way in an attempt to craft a compromise.  Given the changes and issues we have seen, and the issues facing all other options for Charles Wang, the political will shown from the County and Town should provide the push to get this done.

Pessimistic View

The Town of Hempstead has repeatedly stressed the need for "responsible" development at the Coliseum site.  That could be interpreted as either seeking prudent compromise or seeking to gut the very boldness that made the Lighthouse Project such a seminal moment in Long Island history.  The pessimistic view is that the Town will gut the project to such a degree that the Lighthouse has no choice but to abandon its pursuit and clear the way for another developer.

Bottom Line

Yesterday was a step toward final resolution of the Lighthouse Project.  Hopefully the negotiations will proceed in a positive way, but I am for now reserving judgment.

Coming Soon

We will be discussing transportation, financing, political issues, and many many more things.  I have no shortage of material, just time.

Please share your thoughts in comments. PetitionEmailTwitterFacebook.

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  1. Thanks Nick for the post. I am still holding out hope, but I can see this going sour real quick. I guess the one postive that has come in these past few days is that there is movement on the project again. Hopefully an agreement on the project can be made soon.


  2. Now that D'Amato is again pulling the strings in Nassau, I can't see Murray being truly sincere w/Wang in any sort of compromise plan. She has political backing for at least four years and knows it.

    Economically there is strong speculation that Wang no longer has the investors to make LHP happen so he is in a very weak bargaining position. In short, Wang is pretty much done and his one ace in the hole is to win the bid to redevelop Willet's Point.

    Maybe the election of John Liu to City Comptroller helps Wang there, but if he doesn't win that bid, then the Islanders could end up anywhere from Brooklyn to Quebec City to Kansas City to Seattle. Let's hope for Willet's Point because LHP is over.


  3. I feel so powerless I cant stand it.
    The TOH is just allowed to say one thing for years and then do the opposite, and theres nobody who is going to call them out on it? They arent accountable for their double talk and hypocritical actions? Its all just- FINE?

    Im so frustrated, Nick. :(

  4. Re: Anon (9:11 a.m.):

    We only know that there were 29 respondents to the Willets Point RFQ, and do NOT know for sure if a group involving Rechler/Wang was one of them.

    Secondly, if the LDG is having such trouble securing financing for this project, who's to say other groups aren't having the same trouble?

    Re: Jae (2/10 at 2:40 p.m.):

    If the TOH didn't give a damn about the Islanders, then why is it required that a plan for a renovated Coliseum (to keep the Isles here) be included in FPC's alternative zoning plan?

    Nick, thanks for all of this news. If TOH is supposedly financing this new zoning plan by FPC, could this be looked at as a compromise by TOH so LDG won't have to fork over any additional money other than what they already owe?

  5. if i missed this sorry, but was any timeframe suggested for this "alternative" plan process? i can't imagine its preparation and submission would be a quick process, and though TOH's phoniness in footdragging on the LH would be obvious if they now fast-track a new f.p. clark plan, i'm sure they care not about that. my point then is - this will basically arrest any real movement toward resolution for another long period, will it not?

  6. Day1 - a TOH source HOPES this is finished by the summer, but you know how long things usually take in the Town of Hempstead...

    Another source said that we will know how serious they truly are about working with Wang by what team from F.P. Clark is assigned to the work. I will follow up for more on that.

  7. "hopes ...finished by summer?"

    do you see charles wang stewing for that much longer, and probably beyond, still without finality?
    i don't.

    i can see kate murray's spin when it's over being - "yes, we lost the islanders, but it was their decision and this process led to our plan for development of this valuable asset, and we're doing it our way."

    but what do i know?

  8. Hi Zooman, the reason why I said the TOH did not care about the Islanders is that they involved F.P Clark associates who have been allegedly paying money to Kate Murray according to a September article on this website. Thus, this group is not really an independent party. They will likely do what Murray wants in the zoning.

    Murray wants this project scaled down WITHOUT being concerned about the financial situation of the Islanders because they want to be in charge. Also, how do we know what Murray and TOH will impose on the Islanders as judgments and penalties after they build the Lighthouse around NVMC as the land belong to the County, not the Islanders? Why is Wang trying to secure a mega development? He is trying to recoup his losses. Perhaps a scaled down version that Kate Murray is proposing may not be enough. in the article Also, the Lighthouse was nenver informed that Frederick P. Clark hasn't been working for almost 3 weeks. 9/4/09 They found out when we did

  9. Im having a hard time feeling optimistic....

    Wang looked like a weasil in his interview with Howie and I feel bad for the Isles fans and people like Nick and countless fans and supporters who dedicated their precious time to Wangs fantasy…He had us all dreaming of something special for LI's future and he is backing out….I feel bad for Isles fans

    What happened to Murray's policy that she cant meet with the developers since shes like a judge in a court case and it would be a conflict of interest???I feel like we have dirty rotten liar’s and down right criminals running our govt…I feel bad for Long Island...Why is it that nobody seems to care about this like me???Seems like most of us just let her slide on this BS...Is it only me who is beside himself about this???I feel bad for Long Island

  10. Also, why is it that nobody seems to care that Murray is hiring consulting firms from outside of Long Island????Can she be brought up on charges for this out right scammery???

    I feel bad for Long island

  11. We got no Light House, but Murray and Crew got pay raises. What?? Join the Roll Back the Raises campaign, I found there email online its

    Let's figt like Tie Domi used to...

  12. I think it's time to stick a fork in it. Kate Murray has demonstrated time and time again that she is NOT to be trusted. Her actions now speak volumes about her hypocrisy. Her attempt at gaining control now of the development process reeks of her socialist tendencies. I understand she has a bust of Ronald Reagan in her office. I wonder if she knows he crushed socialism in his time. A bust of Hugo Chavez would be more appropriate for her office. Again, I never trusted this woman from Day One and she continues to play games and stonewall. When she says jumpstart the process you can bet what she really means is slow it down even more until it just atrophies and dies. Hopefully we'll end up in Brooklyn or Queens. I would like to encourage everyone in Hempstead Township to do all in your power to bring this woman down. We can use a good Tea Party candidate to crush her.

  13. Anon (11:03 p.m.):
    "I would like to encourage everyone in Hempstead Township to do all in your power to bring this woman down."

    Didn't we try that before November 3? I believe it was around 65%-35%.

    But let's stay positive and hold up our "We Believe" signs.

  14. ""What happened to Murray's policy that she cant meet with the developers since shes like a judge in a court case and it would be a conflict of interest???""

    What do you mean? Kate Murray never said that. BTW, we are no longer at war with EastAsia, we are at war with EurAsia.

  15. Derek: Actually, Kate Murray did say it, numerous times. Here's her saying it to my friend David Reich-Hale at the LI Business News:

    I’m one of seven on the board and we have a judicial role to play. We’re not meeting with the developers for the same reason a judge doesn’t meet with a defense attorney behind the back of the prosecution. I take that very seriously.


    Day1: Town of Hempstead wants it done by the summer but left themselves tons of wiggle room.

    Johnny: I personally think it's irresponsible to start thinking about alternatives that actually have a far smaller chance of happening than this does. We'll go more into this as it progresses.

    Anon (11:03 PM): Please don't bring partisan discussion into this, because it doesn't achieve our goal. It doesn't matter whether it's Democratic, Republican, Tea Party, or Marijuana Reform; it's not going to help us here. Zooman is 100% correct; Kate Murray won the election with 65% of the vote last year, ending the chance dissatisfied citizens had to get her out of office for 2 years. It doesn't really matter what we think of her because her term expires in early 2012. Barring her resignation to take an appointed position somewhere else (in which case the machine would appoint someone just like her), Kate Murray is going to be in charge when the Lighthouse issue is settled.

    On the whole I believe you're correct, however, that this is a very hypocritical decision. As I've said many times, this reverses 7 years of official Town of Hempstead policy, and they hid behind it to avoid making a decision or sharing a vision many times. No free pass on that.

  16. the seeming hypocrisy of ms. murray's shifting positions on getting involved in the development itself begs for explanation. unless i've missed something in the last day or 2, this is a prime example of the failure of an absent "press" to assert its journalistic responsibilities.
    has there been any coverage along these lines?

  17. Joye Brown of Newsday called Kate Murray out, but you and I both know we won't get a straight answer from them about what really motivated the decision.

  18. I think Mr Wang's interview served exactly the results he wanted, by forcing Murray to react to the interview. Wang knows what he will take as a minimum on the LHP and for sure Murray and her crony's will come in smaller. This will allow Wang either the option to sell to the Russian Billionaire or take his Isles to Willets Point.

  19. he also could partner with nickel man.
    he doesn't have to just sell.

  20. Only the blindly optimistic sees this as happening. Willits or sale. CW doesn't wait now for TofH....that's done, over fini. Only for move or sale options. I have not one shread of doubt. And, btw, I don't blame him. LI is intellectually, culturally, and soon to be economically bankrupt. Murray symboliizes the NIMBY shirt sighted non-intellectual approach to everything (including how people think about the Islanders) endemic to LI... Very sad.

  21. LI is intellectually, culturally, and soon to be economically bankrupt. Murray symboliizes the NIMBY shirt sighted non-intellectual approach to everything (including how people think about the Islanders) endemic to LI... Very sad.

    NO ONE has said it any better. I know people from all over. From california to nebraska to jersey. They all say the same thing to me.
    "Why isn't this done already?" These are people who do big business at a very high level and all over the world. I then fill them in and they do searches about Murray, Mondello,D'Amato and the TOH and see how they've "done business" and conducted themselves in the past. The genral conclusion is a collective,"Oh, I see."

    What is the future of Long Island and for our children if we allow this to continue?

    Short Answer? There IS no future on Long Island. Who wants to stay here and pay high taxes, have no forward thinking and get very little in return? As long as politicians such as Murray and Co. hold office at key positions in our local governments, Long Island will continue to deteriorate.

    They will come back with a mock up of a "LHP" that will make us ALL sick and Wang will walk in 2015 or as soon as he can. Period. Even though he and Rechler have plenty of money around the site in the Marriot and RXR Plaza, continuing this fight doesn't seem cost prohibitive with these "people" in office.

    -Big Van Vader

  22. Media Alert: Watch Kate Murray on Focus on channel 10/55 WLNY at 2:30PM Sunday Feb 14. She talks about The Lighthouse. Watch it so we all can try to keep her honest.

  23. Nick said...
    Derek: Actually, Kate Murray did say it, numerous times. Here's her saying it to my friend David Reich-Hale at the LI Business News:

    OH Nick, I thought you would get my sarcasm, especially after Orwell's 1984 reference, recently used by Keith Olberman. D'oh.

  24. The Russian billionaire is not allowed to buy the Islanders.