Friday, April 25, 2008

Light At The End Of The Lighthouse?

Town Schedules Public Hearings On "Impact" Of Nassau Hub

Let no one -- and certainly not this blogger -- say that the Town of Hempstead doesn't move with all deliberate speed when it wants to.

Public Hearings on the much-heralded Lighthouse Project, the "hub" of Nassau that would boast a renovated Coliseum as its centerpiece -- have been set for Thursday, May 22 and Tuesday, May 27 at Hempstead Town Hall.

The public (that would be you) is invited to comment on the proposal, and to raise issues of concern, which necessarily include traffic flow, air/water quality, and transportation.

These "scoping sessions," as these public forums are referred to, will be held as follows:

Location -
Town of Hempstead
Nathan L. H. Bennett Pavilion
One Washington Street
Hempstead, NY

Dates & Times-
Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. [WOW! An evening hearing. Way to go.]

For more information, residents may call 516-794-8300.

The Town of Hempstead has even gone so far as to post the draft scope of the lighthouse application on its website, which provides a generic overview of the environmental impact statement for "The Lighthouse at Long Island."

As reported in Newsday, if all moves forward as planned, it is possible that ground could be broken on this 10-year project, decades in the making, as early as July, 2009.


Which all goes to show that Town Supervisor, Kate Murray, can set things in motion, and actually get the job done -- or at least started -- when she wants to.

Ulterior motives to getting the Lighthouse Project off the drawing board before the announcement of Kate Murray for Nassau County Executive?

Perhaps. But hitting the turnpike running on this planned renaissance for America's first suburb is a must, and, on this score, Supervisor Murray gets a well deserved pat on the back.

Now, about those plans for Baldwin, Elmont, West Hempstead...
- - -
Public comment sessions set for Lighthouse project


The public will soon have a chance to express concerns about the environmental and economic impact of the largest building project to hit Nassau County in decades - the $2-billion Lighthouse development that includes a renovated Nassau Coliseum.

The developers - who propose to build hundreds of hotel rooms, more than 2,000 apartments and millions of square feet of convention, office and retail space - say they believe that the input they have already received has covered whatever issues could arise.

But they're still open to suggestions.

And they'll get them at two public "scoping" sessions the Town of Hempstead has scheduled for next month.

The Lighthouse team - billionaire Charles Wang and real estate mogul Scott Rechler - submitted to the town last week a 28-page draft report, outlining environmental studies under way. Areas likely to be affected by the project include water, transportation, traffic, parking, air quality and noise.

Town officials took the next step in the approval process by scheduling hearings, for May 22 and 27, at which groups or agencies can talk about potentially significant adverse impacts that may not have been considered. Those suggestions would be incorporated in the report that developers submitted, which then would be used by the developers in preparing a draft impact statement.

Uniondale residents, whose main concerns are traffic and transportation, say they'll attend the public sessions.

"We would like to see a meshing of that project with our community," said Mary-Ellen Kreye, past president of the Uniondale Community Council, a civic group. "We want transportation in and out available for people who work and live in Uniondale, too. We want Uniondale businesses to be helped, not replaced."

The developers say they'd like to begin the Coliseum renovation in July 2009, a project expected to generate thousands of construction jobs. It would be the first phase of a two-phase, 10-year project.

They have applied to create new zoning for the 150 acres along Hempstead Turnpike, in hopes of providing "a community of pedestrian-friendly interconnected streets." The report says the design is intended to be energy-efficient and to reduce residents' and employees' dependence on automobiles by using public transportation, shared parking facilities and traffic management programs.

Developers said they will have spent more than $7 million on consultants to study the various areas of impact, and anticipate a final report will be submitted to the town in July.

Studies will examine existing and projected traffic flow at 50 area intersections and highway ramps, both during morning and evening rush hours and before and after Islanders games.

Alternative forms of transportation being considered are walking and bicycling, as are such other energy-saving alternatives as solar, geothermal and fuel cell.

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

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