HIGH TENSIONS AT LIGHTHOUSE HEARINGSpirit of cooperation not really in the air

Live play-by-play of the evening portion of Lighthouse zoning hearing at Hofstra University. Day session covered in following post.
6:30 pm – After watching Bob Eschbacher, his traffic consultant with 35 years experience, get pushed around for hours, Lighthouse developer Charles Wang finally got mad as heck and couldn’t take it anymore. At 5:20 pm, he took the microphone at his table and admonished the Town of Hempstead board for pushing his expert around “when no one has the answers.” He also noted that the LDC has approvals from the Department of Transportation and Department of Public Works – and they also know a lot more about these subjects than any members of the Town board.


When Councilman Anthony Santino – who has handled the ball today about as well as Ted Ginn – interrupted Wang, the Islanders owner pounded the table and said, “Would you let me finish”! Frustrated, Wang waved his hand, backed away from the table and decided to bite his tongue.


Town Supervisor Kate Murray pointed out that the afternoon session had run long and called for a dinner break. (Maybe everyone was just really hungry). The evening session will begin at 6:30 pm.


I caught up to Wang – after that outburt, I just had to say hello to the man – and asked if he was tempted to walk away for the rest of the night. He joked, “My staff wouldn’t let me.” Wang said his concern was not the questions, but the tone. “I don’t understand a lot of the questions they’re asking because they’ve been addressed time and time again and are in the reports we’ve delivered to them,” Wang said outside the Adams Theatre at Hofstra University. “But more than that, I’m a little discouraged by some of the contentiousness.”


Later on Wang said, “Sometimes it’s as if we never made a presentation.” Co-developer Scott Rechler told me, “The board is asking about a lot of things that are well-documented in the DGEIS. It’s also frustrating when the councilman (Santino) says his constituents think this is all about the arena and the Islanders when that’s not true. We’ve hosted 213 public meetings.”


On the bright side, Wang dismissed the notion that the Lighthouse has reached the Old Plainview stage. “Nah, it’s not like that,” he said. Rechler agreed. “We’re so much further along than that.”




6:35 – Final round begins with – tada! – Lighthouse traffic consultant Bob Eschbacher. The orchestra section of the Adams Theatre is about two-thirds empty.


6:50 – After Santino wise-asses to Eschbacher, Wang takes the mic and tells Santino, “We would appreciate it if you would stop badgering our consultant.” Later on Wang says to his traffic expert, “Bob, I know you say they (board members) are not intimidating you, but they are intimidating me.” Santino and Kate Murray laugh.


Yes, but it’s this blog that has been exaggerating the tension in this building all day. Riiiiiight.


6:55 – When Eschbacher is finally done, labor reps shout “Let the public talk”! Hearing only has two hours left and very few citizens have spoken.


7:00 – Wang asks Kate Murray if he can give another presentation because new people have joined the hearing for the night session. Murray says she was about to call on Long Island labor leader John Durso, effectively shutting down Wang’s request.


7:05 – Durso: The time has come. We need this built. We need these jobs. Enough is enough. What’s currently there is an embarrassment to you, to us, to all of Long Island.”


7:45 – Sorry for the lack of updates. The wireless keeps going on and off. I think everytime I write Clowncilman Santino, it falls off. Basically what’s happening now is one person speaks against the Lighthouse, gets booed a lot and gets to speak past the time limit. Then another person speaks, gets cheered a lot but gets ringed off after 90 seconds.

Tensions are high, though.


7:50 – Murray asks Wang to ask his suppporters to show some civility. Wang does, and then tells the audience his name is pronounced WONG, “like the Yankees pitcher.”


7:55 – Joe Conte, Islanders fan, finally gets his moment. “Supervisor Murray, I’m asking you and the entire board to save Long Island.” He says Murray could be Robert Moses or not. “The choice is yours.”


8:15 – Wicked moment as an elderly woman takes the microphone, says some bright, passionate things against the Lighthouse, and then starts in with some wild racist stuff. Wow.


8:20 – Gentleman from East Meadow compliments the minds of Wang and Rechler and, while looking at the Town board, says twice, “I vote in every election.” It was a good try, but it’s wrong to think Kate Murray is going anywhere.


8:30 – Hempstead resident bemoans “21st century development, 19th century infrastructure,” says the Lighthouse does not work. “We don’t want a golden city of lords surrounded by serfs.”


8:43 – Kansas City comes up small. Baumbach of Newsday reports that there are about 3,000 people at the Islanders-Kings game tonight. (REVISED: Since estimated at 8,000).


8:50 – Wrapping up the meeting, Murray asks those in favor of the Lighthouse Project to stand. 95% of the approximately 200 remaining visitors stand. Many shout out loud their digust that they didn’t get a chance to address the board.


8:52 – Wang is given the floor for final comments. Among them:

“We have followed this entire project without any shortcuts.”

“You have all the information in your hands.”

“Let’s get to the finish line. Let’s make the Lighthouse Project a reality.”


Comments. Good night.