Inept Nassau Pols Would Like the Islanders to Stay

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent throughout the Coliseum development of the last 10-plus years, it has got to be the inability for Nassau County politicians — both at the County level and lower levels, both Democrat and Republican — to put aside partisan politics and attempt to work on any kind of solution that would keep the Islanders in Nassau County.

On Monday, the new Bruce Ratner-led plan for the Coliseum that appears to be the one that will finally lead to shovels in the ground (but to be on the safe side, don’t hold your breath) got approval from some county committees and will now head to a vote in the legislature on September 23rd. After that, the final step will be approval from NIFA.

Now that a revamped Coliseum seems to be headed for the finish line and the Islanders are tucked safely away in a 25-year “iron-clad” lease with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a few Nassau politicians are voicing that they would — pretty please with sugar on top — like to find a way to keep the team in Nassau.

Here’s Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), via  Newsday, voicing his concerns about the plan:

Islanders Brooklyn Hockey

“We’d prefer to see a shorter [construction] time frame so we can get men and women to work sooner. We also want to explore keeping the (New York) Islanders (hockey team) in a revamped Coliseum, at home in Nassau where they belong.”

The Islanders are scheduled to leave Nassau in July 2015, when their lease expires.

But there was a lot of discussion about keeping the Islanders, and Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker, speaking for the administration of County Executive Edward Mangano, said they are still working on trying to keep the Islanders in Nassau.

So yes, you’re reading that correctly; nearly a decade after the Lighthouse Project was approved by the Democrat controlled County and killed by Town of Hempstead Republicans, and two years after a bond referendum failed (backed by County Republicans and railed against by Democrats, such as Jay Jacobs), we’ve got both a Democrat (Abrahams) and a Republican (Walker) talking about trying to keep the Islanders in Nassau County. They are a day late and a dollar short, and that’s being generous.

Although it seems as though Ratner’s plan will jump all the hurdles necessary, don’t worry, not all Nassau politicians are interested in playing nice with the new development plan for the Coliseum.

Today, there’s an important primary in the county for the Democrats. Voters will choose who will run against current County Executive Ed Mangano. Democrats Tom Suozzi and Adam Haber are squaring off in that race and in a recent debate neither was complimentary of Bruce Ratner’s plan for the Coliseum which, if you’re keeping score, was achieved under a Republican:

On Tuesday night the candidates offered different takes on a range of fiscal issues, from county borrowing to fixing the tax assessment system.

But the candidates were briefly united in their criticism of Mangano’s recently announced deal with developer Bruce Ratner to revamp the aging Nassau Memorial Coliseum.

That agreement, which Mangano has described as a victory for the county after the New York Islanders announced they would be moving to Ratner’s Barclays Center in Brooklyn, would see more than $200 million in private investment into the Nassau Hub and a revenue sharing agreement with the county.

But both Democrats attacked the plan, with Haber saying the county had undervalued the property and Suozzi calling the proposal unambitious.

Ah yes, nothing unites two competing politicians quite like something achieved by the opposing party.

Sidebar: Of particular note in that excerpt is that the guy who approved the mega-huge Lighthouse Project calling Ratner’s small-than-the-Lighthouse proposal “unambitious”. On the flip side, his opponent said the County “undervalued” property, despite literally reviewing multiple proposals and choosing the highest bidder.

If you’re keeping score at home; the Hempstead Republicans killed the Lighthouse, Democrats opposed the referendum and now both sides would like to keep the Islanders while still maintaing criticisms of the proposed development plan.

All these years, all these proposals and these guys still don’t get it.

The ship of keeping the Islanders in Nassau sailed, captained by Owner Charles Wang and given exceptionally strong tailwinds by Nassau politicians. You can blame Wang for not keeping the Islanders in Nassau, it was his decision after all, but the inability for Nassau politicians to get out of each other’s way and even make so much as a half-assed attempt to get something done is astounding.

The Islanders are gone, heading towards the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. And as the saying goes, he who laughs last, laughs longest.

In an interview with Newsday, Islanders owner Charles Wang laughed when asked about the idea that he could break his new lease in Brooklyn and move the team back to Nassau County in the future.