Editor’s Note: Just as I published this entry, I heard from Nassau County. My interview with County Executive Tom Suozzi will run on Thursday…CB
Throughout the last week many of you have called for Point Blank to create a petition, host a rally, storm Town Hall and do all sorts of stuff on behalf of the Lighthouse Project.
I appreciate where you’re coming from, but I’m taking a spot on the sidelines for the next little while. In the last two weeks, we’ve written three articles on the Coliseum issue and Don La Greca and I moved the story along with Gary Bettman on our radio show. The coverage may have led to Jim Baumbach authoring a Lighthouse column on Sunday. Now the talk has reached a near-fever pitch.
But the next step is not a rally or another petition, and we’re fairly certain that’s for far bigger organizations than our little blog to handle anyway. The office of my former colleagues on the PR/marketing team at the Lighthouse at Long Island would be a good place to start.
The next step is for someone from the Town of Hempstead to provide a public update. As Baumbach pointed out, there has been months of silence on the arena topic. Shoot, for all we know everything is rosey. It would be kind of awkward if we formed some big rally and Scott Rechler showed up and said, “Hey, we really appreciate it, but everything’s cool. I’ll take it from here.”
I don’t agree with Baumbach that it has to be Charles Wang doing all the talking, or that the Islanders owner needs to drop hints on a Plan B. (There can only be one Plan B: leave Nassau, hideous lease be damned). All sides – County, Town and the Lighthouse development team - should let the people know what’s up.
While it’s nice that Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray stood in front of 50 cheering locals and next to a bulldozer last week in announcing plans to demolish the Courtesy Hotel, does anyone know where she truly stands on the Lighthouse Project? Let’s face it: especially these days, it’s a lot easier to destroy than be a visionary and build.
This may not have been what Murray signed up for when she was elected Town Supervisor in 2001, but the reality is the biggest development deal in modern Long Island history is in her hands. Wang bought the Islanders in 2000 after a half-decade of mismanagement by others who only saw the hockey team as a real estate buy. Everyone knew a long time ago this moment was coming. What has Murray had to say about it? Not much of any substance.
Asked by former Suffolk County Executive Pat Halpin on “Meet the Leaders” on Cablevision for her “vision” for the Coliseum property, Murray fidgeted and said, “Pat, you’re looking to get me on the record and I’m very concerned.” It is a question she declines to answer when asked a second time in the program. She discusses understandable concerns about traffic and environmental impact, while Halpin talks about the positive effects of increasing the tax base and employment at a time of need.
In the interview Murray volunteers that she offered to Charles Wang to re-develop the arena immediately as a stand-alone project. That doesn’t work. Most everyone knows Wang was born in Shanghai, but it wasn’t yesterday. See the interview here and let us know what you think. Our take: Kate Murray wants no part of this blockbuster deal. We really hope we are wrong.
Two calls over the last week to Murray’s staff have not been returned. A Q & A arranged with Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi has been stalled for the last four weeks. Still, the most important person to hear from is Murray. She has many remarkable accomplishments on her resume, starting with being the first woman in the three-century history of Hempstead Town to hold its highest office. For all that she has achieved, it is her stewardship of this development that could define her legacy as a community leader.
Say something, Supervisor. A lot of people wouldn’t be overjoyed, but at this point we’d even be okay with “This is not happening while I’m around.” At least it would be an answer, a position. I know, taking a stand is a political career-killer.
While we wait on Murray, Suozzi or perhaps – in the most dire scenario – someone from the Lighthouse team to make the next move, all one can really do these next two months is call or email Town Hall with support or concerns for the Coliseum project (the Lighthouse site has all the contact info). Seems crazy for anyone to get worked up when the real power brokers are not inclined toward transparency.
While we hope for a bi-partisan, joint effort between the Town and County, there will be no major decisions made, no deals signed between now and the end of the holiday season. But if anyone in power would like to let Islanders fans and concerned residents know if we’ll ever be able to meet at the Lighthouse – and see the Islanders stay in Nassau - that sure would be neighborly.
(Thursday: An interview with Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi)
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