Saturday, June 12, 2010

Still Waiting on the Town of Hempstead's Response

It's been a long while since the last post here, and I apologize for that.  I need to be better, and the fact that I've been very busy should not be an excuse.  I hope you will forgive me, and while I can't promise that the frequency will be quite what it was in the beginning, I will do everything in my power to chat with you guys more often.  That likely means some shorter posts and quick ideas instead of saving them for a big blog post that I end up pushing off repeatedly.

At this point, there has been precious little news on the Lighthouse Project, save Ed Mangano's ridiculous casino idea (more on this over the weekend), for many months.  The Lighthouse web site is gone, replaced with a placeholder that still manages to get a dig in at the Town of Hempstead, and the Town, which promised action on an alternate plan by Memorial Day, is now 2 weeks late.

It's become par for the course in this theater of the absurd.


The Town of Hempstead has constantly received credit (to be fair, from itself) for "jump-starting" the Lighthouse process, after Charles Wang stopped paying F.P. Clark, the Town's environmental consultant, and seemingly shut down all operations.  It's true that, on the surface, the Town has done something substantive, but reality is a little different.  As I've said repeatedly, sources allege that the Town had refused to meet with the Lighthouse or anyone involved (including then-County Executive Suozzi) since 2003, citing ridiculous claims of "conflict of interest" that have never made sense.  Every time I think of this, I pine for what could have been, because I can't imagine that a Town that gave a damn from the beginning could have produced a plan that worked.  We could have at least a new Coliseum by now, but instead the Town chose to hide behind a moronic policy and empty proclamations of sitting like "judges," which conveniently ignores the fact that judges and umpires can be biased and, yes, even fallible.  The tragic case of MLB umpire Jim Joyce is a constant reminder of that, even if his actions after the blown call were nothing less than noble and admirable.

Now, after 7 years of hiding behind this policy, the Town has done an about-face, a move which begs a simple question: Why?  What was the impetus for the Town's sudden movement after years of intransigence?  As I mentioned, what could have been accomplished had this been the idea from the beginning?  Was this a cynical ploy hoping that the unthinkable would happen and Tom Suozzi would lose, in order for the Town to put its own stamp on things?  We may never know....

Do They "Get It"?

I think there's an even more basic question to ask here: Does the Town of Hempstead really "get it"?

I keep coming back to an article written in April in Newsday (subscription required) that sent a shiver up my spine.  Town spokesman Mike Deery shot back at yet another claim from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that the Town was stalling the Lighthouse Project and needed to get its act together.  His response included this gem:

"Unlike the five other metropolitan-area professional franchises that opened magnificent new facilities in the past year, Mr. Wang has tied the Coliseum's future to the construction of a mini-city along Hempstead Turnpike.'' - Mike Deery

Where do we even begin with the things wrong with this?

Newsflash Number 1: The Lighthouse Project can't be compared to the other buildings opened in the past year because it's apples to oranges.  Yankee Stadium and Citi Field both received direct (infrastructure) and indirect (tax-free bonds) support from the government.  The Prudential Center in Newark was constructed with funds from the city and a naming-rights deal.  The Jets and Giants pooled their assets, sold those hideous Personal Seat Licenses (PSL's) and received a sizable sum of money from the NFL's stadium fund. 

The Lighthouse Project is not getting ANY of these things.

We've been over this so many times on this blog: arenas are usually heavily subsidized by the public, and when they are not the team involved must come up with other ways to raise the money, such as developing the surrounding land.  

Newsflash Number 2: This is about more than a hockey arena for a hockey team.  The Lighthouse Project represents things Long Island badly needs to avoid stemming the tide of brains and businesses (including, in the weeks and months ahead, sadly, my own) off the island in search of better opportunity.  Is the Town of Hempstead so narrow-minded that they genuinely believe this is just a sports issue?  Are they willing to spit in the faces of the thousands of people that could benefit from the new wave of thinking the Lighthouse could signal because they think it's nothing more than a ploy to get a new arena?  What a joke....

I may not post as often, but this still riles me up the way it always did.

So, Now What?

Everything is in a holding pattern until the Town of Hempstead returns with its alternative plan.  I am very apprehensive about what we will see because, quite honestly, F.P. Clark does not have a reputation for developing over-arching visions for mixed-use.  There are many outstanding questions:

What Will We See?

Nobody is truly sure what kind of a plan the Town will propose.  It could be a 10-20% reduction, which would likely be acceptable to the Lighthouse group (assuming they still want to do it).  It could be a 30-40% reduction, which may be open for negotiation, or it could be something far more drastic.  A more drastic cutback would almost certainly lead to the Lighthouse walking away.

When Will We See It?

The Town is still silent....I have no idea when they'll stop being silent.

How Closely Is the Town Working With the County?

It seems a bit strange that Ed Mangano would announce this casino nonsense without consulting the Town, but the Town seemed just as surprised as the rest of us. 

What Will the Lighthouse Do?

Right now, the Lighthouse in general, and Charles Wang in particular, might be the biggest wild card in this process.  Scott Rechler has a reputation in the development community, and Ed Mangano, as the new County Executive, does not want to own this problem, especially since his narrow margin of victory immediately calls his chances of being re-elected into question.  I'm sure that, in a vacuum, these 2 would want to make a deal.

Charles Wang could be another story.  He and Kate Murray have sniped at each other throughout most of the process, and he may already be negotiating for other options.  It will be interesting to see, and it's difficult to read the tea leaves because nobody is talking.

Bottom Line

We continue to be in a holding pattern with the Lighthouse Project, waiting for some sort of clarity.  Until the Town comes back with its alternative plan, things will still be stalled.  Hopefully, an acceptable alternative comes along, or the Town proposes a plan that maintains the spirit of the Lighthouse Project.  Only time will tell....

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  1. Hi Nick, thanks for the article. If you listen to WFan on Boomer and Carton with Mike Bossy (check the archives on the Boomer and Carton page), Bossy said that Wang has had active discussion with Nassau and other places. Also, he said that Queens would be a fantastic option. I think Wang may be talking to Mangano to negotiate a fee to Nassau County so that he can get higher percentage single game ticket sales. From what I know, Nassau County gets 50% of Islanders single game ticket sales? Do you know the percentage that the County gets from Islanders single game ticket sales?

  2. 19 Isle in NJ 22June 12, 2010 at 5:21 AM

    Nick no need to apologize for the gaps between your posts. Quite honestly with the blackout from both sides there is nothing for you to post. You've already done above and beyond any coverage from anywhere.

    I really have no faith in anything developed from a government entity. They usually lack the vision and economic viability of projects proposed by entreprenuers and business people It's difficult enough for developers with experience as it is.

    I hope that somewhere in the back ground that TLHP has been working behind the scenes in an "undground" kind of way with the TOH to come up with a plan that works for all involved. I know that is probably a pipe dream ... but one can dream.

    I was wondering if you have watched that documentary on the History Channel; America: The Story of US.

    It was remarkable what PEOPLE endured, sacrificed and risked to build this country. The genius of the entreprenuer. We don't have that anymore. They even had a segment about Levittown.

    We seem to be lacking that kind of spirit as all levels of government take more of a stranglehold of control over everything.

    Irony? In that series they had a segment that showed during colonial times how the British Empire forbid settlers from developing on the edges of the frontiers of the colonies. The trees were the King's forest. Seems like we've come full circle.

    Anyway ... Good to see you sharing your thoughts. As you can see I periodically check in on your site.

  3. Hey Nick, welcome back...You're posts are important because it keeps us all engaged even if you have no new news...I'm glad you brought up Murry's complete flip flop on her policy to meet with developers but what do you think about her using developers from outside of Long Island???That really chaps my ass... Also, who's paying for this now???The tax payers right??? Shouldn't the public know about how she decided to push Wanger and his money out???How effed up is that???

    Rob c

    anyway, I'm disappointed for you that you cant have your business right here on Long Island.

  4. Good to hear from you again Nick (although I do speak to you on Twitter time and again) Again good post. Too bad you have nothing new to report. And again I really have nothing new to say except the damage has already been done.


  5. Yo Nick. Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University wrote an piece for Newsday about the Nassau Coliseum area and what I'm sure are his concerns about the casino. I couldn't view it as I don't have cablevision nor do I get Newsday. Any idea of the true/full content of this article?

    BTW, sad to see you will be taking your business off of LI, but I can hardly blame you. Until corrupt politicians like Murray and the rest of that TOH Board are ousted, Nassau will NEVER change.

    -Big Van Vader

  6. Hey Nick,
    Thanks for the update this LHP process is a complete embarasment, seven almost eight years what a joke oh wait I forgot politicians are involved. Now I know its not all there fault I put the blame 80% to 20% why were still here almost 8 years later and theonly thing a shovel has done is shovel S??T you know what I mean.
    I was really hoping that the TOH plan would've been announced by now there I thinking with common sense again. I truly think that CW is exploring his options can't say I blame him as long as its somewhere here Queens/BKLN/or somewhere else on Long Island, the problem with that is we'll be back at squre one in regard to a whole approval process again. The waiting has got to end for us the fans like I said to the TOH a couple of weeks ago when I e-mailed them (no response from them and no suprise) all the other team's in the metro area have gotten new buildings and the Rangers (MSG) are on there second one in the last twenty years while we are still waiting from an approval from the TOH. I think it's time for the NHL to step in and get the ball rolling like they've done in Phoenix and also when they helped the teams north of the border a few year's ago. Again thank's for taking your time on this blog to give us what little information there is to be had.

  7. The rangers and MSG are on there second refurbish
    in the last twenty years. just correct myself..

  8. Yo Nick. Did you see this??

    The owners of the New York Mets have begun discussions with a leading real estate firm to strategize for a potential arena in Queens that would house the NHL's New York Islanders, an industry source has told FanHouse.

    Jones Lang LaSalle, the project management company for the upcoming $775-850 million renovation of Madison Square Garden, has begun work on a feasibility study for an Islanders arena at Willets Point -- the property surrounding Citi Field, the second-year home of the Mets.

    "This is beyond the preliminary stage," said the source. "You don't bring in a big hitter like JLL unless you're serious. This tells me the Islanders and Mets have made progress in a partnership to take the hockey team to Queens. If Charles Wang and Nassau can't cut a deal, this will be a great option."

    Where there's smoke........

    Think this will actually be reported by "our" "local" "paper"?

    -Big Van Vader

  9. i can't imagine this being a ploy by charles wang and the wilpons wouldn't spend a dime on this if it wasn't well along. this feels like the real deal to me. mets-islanders. blue-orange. i have to admit, it does make pretty good sense. and resolution will instantly give the team a boost in so many ways. and us too.
    i hope this happens. and soon.

  10. and once bloomberg knows this isn't a wang ploy (to get more out of TOH) this thing will be on a faster track.

  11. The Newsday Katie Strang says Mets bringing in Jones Lang LaSalle is false and said the following: " Although the Mets' interest in bringing the Islanders to Queens remains, there have been no new developments on the potential partnership". Maybe Katie is correct on this one or perhaps she doesn't want the Isles to leave Nassau County.

  12. No she works for newsday(cablevision) who own the Rangers as we all know...

  13. Hi everyone - I saw the news about the Mets, and the Newsday piece saying it isn't true. At this point, I'd be inclined to believe something is going on behind the scenes, but I'm trying to get something, somewhere on the record.

    Reaction coming tomorrow...I hope.

  14. Andy Martino of Ny Daily is also refuting the NHL Fanshouse report

    I don't know who to belive now.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. I re-worked it for better wording!

    Do they get it?

    That's what I want to know.

    Here's the only two scenarios I see:
    1) Wang has already scaled down the project. Maybe he'll go a little smaller. I have a feeling the answer is no.

    So, we have the Lighthouse being built and the Isles staying.

    2) If it isn't built, are we dumb enough to believe the land will just sit there?

    NO! What's gonna happen to it? That's right. Development. Apartments? Strip Malls? More Hofstra and/or NCC stuff?

    The land is gonna be developed either way.

    The TOH can either develop it in conjuction with the Isles or lose the Isles and eventually,the land will be developed.

    We also need to add that the TOH will lose the renevue the Isles bring in, and all the new renevue from the whole Lighthouse project...

    Nick, do those in power in the TOH realzie this?

  17. Nets ownership knows nothing about Queens arena for Islanders--Brooklyn is moving ahead --

  18. Here is a scenario: Isles move to Queens, the Bridgeport team moves to the coliseum.

  19. 'evan weiner said...
    Nets ownership knows nothing about Queens arena for Islanders--Brooklyn is moving ahead --'

    mr. weiner, admittedly i am a little sparse-minded at the moment, but i believe i am missing something here. is there some implied message or significance in Ms. Pavlova's stated lack of knowledge re "..the islanders situation" ?

  20. I feel as if I just had a "DOH!" moment. (props to you Mr. Burns and your casino)

    The whole casino thing was a smokescreen to make a "scaled back" LHP more pallatable to its proponents.

    You see, they think that we believe (well some do), that a casino would be more of an 'eyesore' than the LHP could ever be. So to prevent this from going foward, the TOHhouse plan MUST be accepted. I hate Nassau politics.

    To quote a famous science fiction character "I've got a bad feeling about this."


  21. I said it once and i say it again. I cant get excited about the draft the signings and how good this team is going to be until something is done about where my team is going to be playing.Why us the fans are kept in the dark about what is going on. This fiasco has gone on for far to long. Break this crazy deal with smg put a good team together and the colliseum will be sold out every night. When the islanders were winning cups tickets were impossible to come by. Hope this is resolved soon so i can enjoy next season.

  22. Nick,

    Any word on when the TOH will be releasing the scaled back version of the project? Wasn't it supposed to be "any day now"?

    -Big Van Vader

  23. still waiting...

  24. According to Chris Botta, the TOH will announce something regarding the Lighthouse project tonight.

  25. According to LI Herald, there will be a TOH press conference regarding the Lighthouse project. Botta claims it will be less than 50% of the original plan.

  26. exclusive from Newsday and this is the mobile site so you dont need a subscription

    Hempstead Town plan cuts Lighthouse Project in half;jsessionid=D8A6AB7B8CEE08306193.2772?site=newsday&view=page8&feed:a=newsday_1min&feed:c=topstories&feed:i=1.2096669

  27. exclusive from Newsday and you dont need a subscription because its the moble site.

    Hempstead Town plan cuts Lighthouse Project in half;jsessionid=D8A6AB7B8CEE08306193.2772?site=newsday&view=page8&feed:a=newsday_1min&

  28. They are reducing the housing units down to 500, what a slap in the face to everyone involved...WTF good does that do???We have thousands of people on LI so even the LHC proposal of 2,306 units is just a start in the right direction...500 is a joke