As Time Ticks Down on Coliseum, Nassau County Politics As Insane As Ever

Last Friday news broke that County Executive Ed Mangano had sent out a Request for Qualifications as a last ditch effort to develop the arena site. Mangano asked for developers interested in the Coliseum site to step forward by July 30th. The specifications sounded eerily similar to the LightHouse project.

The RFQ, which has a July 30 response deadline, calls for a renovated or new arena for the Islanders — or another unnamed professional sports team — as well as convention space, a biotech park, retail and housing. Officials also want a 3,000-space parking garage.

And of course, the whole thing would have to get past the dungeon master that is the Town of Hempstead. Their most recent victory was denying Sonic, a fast food chain, a new franchise in an abandoned building in East Meadow.

Mangano said plans would have to meet Hempstead ‘s zoning guidelines. Town spokesman Michael Deery said the zoning allows for an arena and enough development to spur economic activity. “We applaud any efforts that embrace these same goals,” Deery said.

Magano’s search is two-fold. One part wild goose chase, searching for a developer to revamp the entire Coliseum and pay for the vast majority of the project. That’s of course operating under the assumption that Charles Wang would welcome continuing to pay rent at a new or renovated Coliseum and would also like continue dealing with the County and SMG. That’s hard to imagine given the icy nature of the relationships.

The second part of Mangano’s plan is political, trying to save face before he is up for election next year and Charles Wang’s deadline for a deal passes at the end of this year. He may be positioning himself to say that he’s now tried twice to help keep the Islanders; last summer’s vote and now this RFQ.

On Tuesday night, things got a whole new infusion of crazy when Democrat Jay Jacobs — famous opponent of last summer’s votedecided to announce his own plan for the Coliseum property. And it’s really nothing more than an elaborate needling of both Mangano and Wang.

Jacobs said roughly $320 million would come from Islanders owner Charles Wang , along with possible funding from the state, other private investors and a potential increase in sales tax revenue that the new arena would be expected to generate.

“Democrat boss Jacobs offers obvious components that have already been suggested,” county spokesman Brian Nevin said. “However, if he has something serious to add he is welcome to respond to County Executive Mangano’s RFQ.”

At a time when things are looking extremely bleak for the Islanders in Nassau County, Jacobs undermined the County Executive’s plan and tried to spend Wang’s money for him in one swift press release. If Mangano’s plan was a hot potato, Jacobs just threw a stick of dynamite on it.

Welcome to Nassau County, where nothing ever gets done.

“There’s 10 years of data, there’s 10 years of public input, there’s 10 years of nos,” Mangano said in an interview.

The current forecast for 2012 is another year of ‘nos’.