Monday, July 12, 2010

The Unveiling Is Tomorrow

As we still argue over whether or not the Queens news first reported by Chris Botta on AOL Fanhouse is accurate or inaccurate (given the repeated connections the mainstream hockey press has been able to make between the Islanders and Mets, I believe accurate), and Ed Mangano continues to hallucinate that a casino would be a smart idea for the Nassau Coliseum site, the Town of Hempstead has finally agreed to unveil its vision for a gutted scaled-back Light Project (pun intended) tomorrow morning at 11.

First of all, nice touch to announce it late on a Sunday night so there's no chance people with jobs and families can actually go.  It's a pattern that emerged after the Town of Hempstead finally realized that the opposition isn't coming but the supporters are.  Instead of engaging us, they've decided to manipulate the circumstances in order to prevent us from coming.  You stay classy, Kate.

I'll be honest: I have no idea what to expect, but based on what I've heard from sources, I'm not optimistic.  At all.  Chris Botta reported on Friday that the "scale-down" is going to be 50% of the original plan, with sources I've consulted speculating that the number is actually over 60%.  The Town spin machine is already in action, and that signals to me that we are looking at something drastic.

I'm intrigued to see what the Town does, because they never seemed to fully grasp why the Lighthouse Project came to existence.  Remember, Mike Deery (TOH mouthpiece) claimed that Charles Wang was yoking his new arena to the development out of egotism, rather than the clear economic reality that building just an arena with private funds is tantamount to flushing money down the toilet.

The Town is working through their consultant, Westchester-based F.P. Clark, which produced the much maligned Baldwin re-zoning plan, along with similar projects, and this does not bode well.  The Town spin machine claims that the new proposal will keep many of the pieces of the Lighthouse Project in a more "sustainable" way, but some reports claim that the housing will be cut by over 75%.

Here's the problem: That math doesn't work.

The retail exists largely to serve the planned residents of the site.  If the residential units are gutted, there will either be excess retail, or they would have to cut the retail by the same percentage.

Simply saying the project should be smaller doesn't change the economic reality.  The Nassau Coliseum can not be replaced without either hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in a bad economy or development that allows the developer to make enough money to finance construction.  Residential is the most profitable construction, so I fail to see how this becomes better.

It seems to me that the Town of Hempstead is trying to have its cake and eat it too, but they have badly overreached here.  I've been concerned that the Town would offer a counter-proposal so insultingly small that Charles Wang and Scott Rechler would have to walk away, leading the Town to paint them as the villains.  I genuinely hope this doesn't happen.

However, we need to keep a few facts in mind:

- Charles Wang's behavior over the past 9 months strongly suggests he does not want to move the Islanders from that spot.

- Ed Mangano, who is facing a $275 million budget shortfall and won his seat by a razor-thin margin, does not want to be the County Executive who lost the Islanders.

- There is no formal casino proposal, just some rough plans and revenue projections.  It's not something that people have seriously pursued, despite noises from some people in the Mangano administration (more on this later)

- Charles Wang and Scott Rechler own all the major non-collegiate properties around the Nassau Coliseum site - it's not like they can just go away.

I've said it before - the easiest thing for all sides is to make a deal, but this news throws the chance of that happening into greater doubt.

As I've said many times, the Lighthouse is the right project at the right time for Long Island.

If not Charles Wang and Scott Rechler, then who?

If not the Lighthouse Project, then what?

This will come into deeper focus after the Town's flash press conference tomorrow morning.  Buckle up.

NOTE: I was not invited to the press conference, and have to work, so I suggest you check Newsday or Islanders Point Blank for the straight news and come back here tomorrow night for reaction.  As always, thanks for sticking with this.  I think I'll be writing more now, since there's more news.

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  1. Nick,
    Thanks for reminding us of the true economic realities of this situation. I can't wait to read that Kate and her merry band of fools tries to jam down everyone's throat. And how they will blame it all on Wang when he finally gets the stones to walk (or run) to somewhere else. At this point, I hope he stays somewhere in the area, but abandons Nassau County. Then, hopefully Kate (and D'Amato and Mondello)will get what she (they) deserve, to be saddled with the legacy of losing the Islanders.
    Aaron in California

  2. DO you think Queens is really an option? Also, do you think there is room for some negotiation? Or, is it a take it or leave it type of thinkg. I also find it pretty funny that Mangano (althought he wants a casion), just like Suozzi is against Kate Murray on this. I just hope whatever happens the Isles stay in NY.

  3. Nick,

    I honestly do not believe that Wang will be painted in the same frame as Walter O'Malley of Dodgers' infamy. However, my opinion is that Kate thinks so.

    As had been stated ad nauseum, the shooting down of the Lighthouse could mean the loss of the Islanders. Not only would there not be additional tax revenue from the development, they will lose what they have.

    Amazing that the TOH can not see this.

    Also as I have also stated numerous times, this whole process cements the reputation that development can not happen on Long Island. No smart or economic development, the more the working class will move from the Island. Not only Hempstead, the WHOLE ISLAND.

    Enjoy your Legacy Kate.


  4. Cutting the housing down from 2000 plus to 500 is a slap in the face. WHats the point then???We have so millions living on LI so even 2000 isn't gonna make a dent in what we actually need here. The ToH are scoundrels

  5. Nick,

    Question. Is there any way that Nassau County or the LH Group can take Kate Murray and TOH to court over this? Being that they won a bid to to develop the land the county owns, spent a ton of money on the plans, etc, and are now being told that they did all of that for nothing because now the TOH wants to zone this a specific way and have something different put there. There has got to be some State Law that doesn't allow for one municipality to have so much power.

  6. As long as there is no Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme proposed in the Lighthouse development, Kate will never approve of it !

  7. The fact that a measly little town board that in reality should be more concerned with where to place stop signs and whether to make a street one-way or not is able to DO this is an absolute slap in the face to justice itself. The people who are paying for this (not the TOH) the people who own the property (again not the TOH) and every facet of government above the town- the county, the states, and most importantly WE THE FRICKIN PEOPLE, are all in favor of this project. the TOH is only in favor of the old lady NIMBYs in Garden City who, since they dont work, can potentially show up to something like this and clap. Why is the will of the people completely ignored here by these fools, and far more disturbing, why is it OK?

  8. Any people know any state politicians who can actually force the Lighthouse project zoning on the November ballot? I think the people, not the elcted officials should be left to make a decision on the future of their community. It's grea to see another County Executive supporting this project, even better to see it from Kate Murrays own political party. WE NEED TO PUT THIS PROJECT ON THE BALLOT. Anyone out there with knowledge on how to get this on it should really push for it.

  9. TheMetalChick, I share your frustration