Hempstead Town Studies Options For Proposed Coliseum Redevelopment
"Slow and steady" is how some view the Town of Hempstead's progress toward the approval of the so-called Lighthouse Project, the comprehensive redevelopment of the Nassau Hub. [The Town, of course, sees itself moving at breakneck speed.]
Slow, certainly. Steady? We're not so sure.
The Town has developed a knack for studying everything from blight to traffic patterns. They've gotten quite good at preparing studies, in fact. So much so that almost every locality -- Elmont, baldwin, Uniondale, West Hempstead -- has at least one.
In terms of moving beyond the studies toward revitalization, redevelopment, or something resembling the reinvention of our "downtowns" and "Main Streets," other than a smattering of Victorian-style streetlamps and brick pavers, Hempstead Town, with rare exception, has not been a pacesetter.
In a recent interview on Cablevision's Meet The Leaders, Town of Hempstead Councilman, Anthony Santino, was asked whether the Town of Hempstead was up to the task of zoning for the Lighthouse Project.
Mr. Santino was unequivocal, citing the "success" of the Roosevelt Raceway redevelopment, accomplished under the auspicies, and with the blessings of, the Town of Hempstead.
Granted, the definition of "success" may differ among reasonable people. Considering the congestion of the roadways (at times, impassable), the mold at Archstone, the total lack of "walkability" (a cornerstone of smart growth), and the profound environmental impact (the Covanta incinerator notwithstanding), it would be difficult for us, a lay bloggers, to label the raceway redevelopment as anything more than blunder followed by folly.
To be fair, a project as massive as the Lighthouse should not be undertaken lightly, the Town having both right and obligation to examine every facet of the proposal under a microscope, and to assure, through zoning and enforcement, that the Nassau Hub, critical to the county's resurgence and viability, does not turn into the Nassau flub.
The Town recently approved the Environmental Report for the Lighthouse ("in record time," if the Town must say so itself).
Can the Town of Hempstead handle a project of this magnitude? For sure. They have the resources, the wherewithal, and the smarts. The question is, will they?
The Town must not rely on history as its guide, or on the small-minded, myopic planning and haphazard zoning by which it has come to define itself. Nor should they cave to the whims of special interests, developers included, in planning the course for Nassau's future.
Take your time, Hempstead Town. Let's redo the Nassau Hub properly, and get it right on the first go round. Transportation, housing, access/egress, and environmental concerns, among other significant details, must all be astutely considered and intelligently addressed.
That said, the Lighthouse Project must proceed with all deliberate speed. Let's not have to ask which will come first, a revjuvenated hub or a Stanley Cup for the Islanders.
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From the Town of Hempstead press release:
Officials at the town noted that after all environmental reviews and reports are completed, Nassau County officials must approve the subdivision plan and the Town Board would hold a hearing on the rezoning of the project site. Approval of a lease agreement by the County Legislature and site plan approvals by the Town Board will also be required before the town's building department could issue building permits.
Hmmm. Town Board + Nassau County Planning Commission + Nassau County Legislature + Town Board + Town Building Department = Completion Date of ???