Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Is Town In Dark On Lighthouse Project

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.
- - -
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 ???


  1. I am very interested in the Lighhouse project, I have added your blog to my following. I hope everyone interested is coming to the meeting at the Marriott!

  2. Very well stated but do you really feel that the Town of Hempstead has the ability to study an environmental assessment of this magnitude? Let us not forget the original development of Mitchel field in the 1980's that was totally haphazard costing the county billions of dollars. I don't really beleive that the traffic problems that will be created have properly been addressed.

  3. If this project goes through as stated I don't think this will be suburbia anymore. This project should be about what is best for Nassau County not the Islanders

  4. Mike - nobody is following the Lighthouse or advocating it for the sake of just the Islanders, and nobody is interested in destroying suburbia. Tom Suozzi has said himself that he wants 80-90% of Nassau County to stay exactly the way it is, and the other 10-20% should be redeveloped in a smart way that addresses our problems.

    I think the worst thing we could do in this situation is nothing, and I'm becoming greatly concerned that the Town of Hempstead is not serious about judging the project at all, let alone on its merits. Suburban way of life is great, but it can't be static and unchanging. What in particular are your concerns?

  5. You have to understand why the town does not want this project to be built. Wang the developer has no plans on coming to an alternate solution on the overall design of the project. It is either his way or no way! Let's look at the EAB Plaza buildings. They look pretty tall ah! 17 storeys high... Wangs Twin Towers are going to be atleast 40 storeys high, Yikes! along with over 10 other buildings that are going to be 20 storeys high, still taller than the EAB buildings. Does Co-op City ring a bell in the Bronx? Do you really want to bring the cityscape into Nassau County and loose whatever we have left to suburbia.

  6. let's talk about the re-development of Roosevelt Raceway project that the town was so happy to approve... have you looked around, oh! NO MONSTER SKYCRAPER BUILDINGS!!! The Town is not against development, there against changing the scope of the Island. When you allow one developer to construct one extremely tall building, your opening the door to other developers to follow suit! Then one day you will say "what happened? where did all these tall skyscrapers come from!"