Monday, March 22, 2010

Light(house) At The End Of The Tunnel(vision)?

Myopia Is An Island, Revisited (Or, It's A Small World After All...)

"...We are still a people capable of doing big things..."
--President Barack Obama

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray writes again. A letter to all 200,000 town homeowners -- on their dime -- urging them to think small.

"Scale back" the Lighthouse Project, she says, perhaps a Lighthouse Light. Create yet another new "zone" (a Special Lighthouse Taxing District, perhaps?). "Jump start" a process that has been stalled -- or was that detoured -- for more than a decade.

Jump start? Hmmm. That would require the cables to be attached to a live charge rather than a dead weight, wouldn't it?

A new zone? Narrowing the possibilities of what could be built, and diminishing the prospects of a much-needed rennaisance, not only for the Coliseum and Nassau County, but for the entire region?

Scale back? Yeah, we get it. Downsize our tomorrows here on Long Island. Supplant Herculean ideas with Lilliputian thoughts. Why go for the grand vision when the nearsightedness of diminutive will suffice?

Lighthouse? We thought you said, Blighthouse! That, dear friends, will require more study.

Then again, maybe Kate Murray has a point. Scale back. Start out small. Resurface the Coliseum parking lot. Paint the facade. Add some brick pavers, ornate trash receptacles, and a wrought iron bench, or two. Oh, yeah. And don't forget the Victorian-style streetlamps. We must have those.

Think small. Could it be that "small" is all the Town of Hempstead is capable of doing? Yes, the small stuff. A planter here. A hydrogen-fueled car there. A weed-eating goat. A solar-powered clam. A photo-laden press release for minutia.

Maybe the small stuff holds sway because Kate & Kompany haven't fared so well on the big stuff, like the redevelopment of Roosevelt Raceway, with its Archstone/Moldstone, clogged thoroughfares, and gentle, rolling asphalt landscapes, all in the shadows of Nassau's tallest structure, the Covanta incinerator tower.

Then again, the Town of Hempstead hasn't really gotten much of a handle on the small stuff, either, like opening a supermarket in Elmont, closing a no-tell hotel in West Hempstead, or so much as paving a street, virtually anywhere in the town.

Maybe, for Kate Murray and her ilk, small is best. Freezing all projects -- and all progress -- may even be better.

Rarely can small minds embrace big ideas. In Hempstead Town, even the little ideas, like the low-watt light of the Victorian-style streetlamp, flicker, albeit dimly (just bright enough to afford the camera-shutter the opportunity to open and close), and then, ever so slowly, die on the great Hempstead Plain.


  1. Until we replace Kate Murray with a Bloomberg type of politician, the Town of Hempstead will not change all that much. The voters re-elect her time and time again, so why should she embrace anything else besides preserving the status quo?

    If we really want big ideas to take hold in the Town of Hempstead, then we're going to need a new Supervisor. Kate's had 7+ years to make changes and has done absolutely nothing to transform this Town into anything resembling a modern suburban destination. In fact the Town has only regressed during her reign into more and more miles of blight.

    What makes anyone think that the Supervisor is going to do anything different except what has gotten her to this point?

  2. I haven't received this letter yet (although I'm just giddy with anticipation....) but unfortunately, I'd have to agree with the previous comment. Why should Kate Murray take the risk of actually exerting a little leadership, or displaying some vision, or for that matter doing anything beyond that which is politically expedient, when we, the voters, reward her term after term for her unparalleled record of inertia?

    The land around Nassau Coliseum happens to be some of the most valuable real estate in the United States. It is nothing short of unconscionable that whole decades have elapsed without having made serious progress in terms of developing this property in a way that serves the overburdened taxpayers of Hempstead and Nassau County. But still we keep electing her, just as we elected those who came before her, who boasted similar records of non-achievement.

    What is particularly unforutunate is that the Lighthouse debacle has provided an object lesson to the business community, which has now seen that trying to work with the Town of Hemsptead is an exercise in futility. As a result, small-scale projects may be all that we can actually ever hope for. As has been noted previously, Kate can come up with any plan she wants, but it's going to take substantial private investment to make it happen. Small-scale, incremental projects driven by a few politically-connected developers will undoubtedly be achievable. Larger, more meaningful and imaginative projects, worthy of the potential inherent in the property around Nassau Coliseum, will never happen until and unless there is a decided change in the way Murray and her colleagues in town government comport themselves. Or until we throw them out.