Tom Suozzi walked away gracefully today, deciding not to protest his election loss to Edward Mangano. I don’t know what’s in store for the now former Nassau County Executive, but I can guarantee you one thing. Should the Lighthouse Project ever be built, a major piece of it will be named after Suozzi. Charles Wang will see to it.
I joked about The Broker in this space from time to time – his redundant Kennedy-by-the-numbers speeches and proclamations made it easy – but if you have a vested interest in the future of the New York Islanders, you may never have a stronger politician on your side than Tom Suozzi. Because of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray (the small s is on purpose), Suozzi could not close the deal. But he tried. Oh boy, did he try.
Lighthouse information the last two months has been as tightly sealed as the John Tavares pick. But the difference in this story is no one knows how it will end and there is so much more at stake. I have written few words about the project since the start of the hockey season, but I haven’t stopped listening to my connections who wanted to share.
I’ll stand by my batting average during the last 20 months on the subject of the Lighthouse over most – especially Long Island’s newspaper. My Newsday favorite so far was after I broke the news of Brooklyn as an option: “Brooklyn is not an option,” said a columnist at the daily. “The current plans don’t call for hockey facilities.” Oh, I’m sorry. Did we all miss a shovel hitting the Brooklyn ground or something? That one really cracked me up.
Then there was the Newsday cover story a week ago about alternative plans for the Coliseum site, like that was a shocker. You mean if 80 acres of asphalt in Central Nassau became available, developers would want a crack at developing them? Get outta Town! There goes another decade of RFPs and zoning meetings…all for another place to shop.
Here’s what I know:
1. Kate Murray recently told a writer for a chain of Hempstead community newspapers that her staff and the Lighthouse staff have been meeting almost every day to look at scaling down the project. Murray did not tell the truth. The Town and the Lighthouse Development Corporation have not had any meaningful discussions since the middle of October. Of course, Murray’s re-election campaign would take precedence over anything for a few weeks. What’s unclear is why she would say publicly there have been meetings when there have been none of any substance.
2. Sometime in the next week, incoming Nassau County Executive Mangano will re-assert his campaign pledge that he has been supportive of the Lighthouse Project and of major development in the Coliseum area. It is highly doubtful Mangano will give his blessing to the project 100% as is. That’s when the Republican County Executive and the Republican Town supervisor will have the chance to pave the way for a groundbreaking in the summer of 2010. They can have the legacy Suozzi was denied.
If Mangano and Murray ask Charles Wang and Scott Rechler to scale down the project by 10% or less, an agreement will be finalized. If they request significant overhauls after the developers spent most of this decade and untold millions on the project, a deal will fall through and the New York Islanders will leave Nassau County.
3. No one has approached the NHL or Wang and offered to purchase the Islanders with the goal of building a new arena only on the Coliseum property.
4. Although Wang is flattered by the interest from other communities, he has little desire to move the team away from Nassau County — so much so that he has yet to rigorously pursue his options.
And finally, know this:
Brooklyn is very much in play.
Queens is very much in play, although it’s a close second to Brooklyn now.
Suffolk is not a serious option.
The Islanders will not leave the New York metropolitan area during this generation or the next one.
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