Thursday, August 04, 2011


Back To The Drawing Board At Nassau Hub

Could it have been the VOTE NO robo-calls running 4-1 over the VOTE YES phone tags, with sponsors postured disingenuously under monikers such as Association for a Better Long Island ("better" for whom, the developers that comprise the association?) and Committee for Smart Growth on Long Island (whose members wouldn't know "smart" if it came up and smacked them in the face)?

Or maybe it was the fact that the Referendum was foolishly held in the dead of summer, on a Monday, in the midst of the lazy days when even die-hard voters won't come out to the polls.

Perhaps the full strength of the most ardent of Islanders fans was no more able to secure a victory for the Mangano Plan than they were in bringing the elusive Stanley Cup back to the Island.

Did NIMBYism kill the Coliseum? Taxpayer disgust? The Tea Party?

While no one factor doomed the proposition, suffice it to say that the negatives tugged harder at the purse strings than the positives did at the heart strings, the Referendum to borrow $400 million on the taxpayers' tab going down to a resounding defeat on August 1.

Sure, we are all Islanders. Or not. Few argued that the outdated Coliseum should stand forever, the icon of the protracted debate of small-minded politicians and closed-minded residents. State-of-the-Art, circa 1970, clearly has no place in today's suburbia.

On the other hand, even those who wanted desperately to build a new arena had qualms about paying for it with our tax dollars, particularly when, just the year before, billionaire Islanders owner Charles Wang was ready, willing and most able to put up his own money to finance the overall redevelopment of the entire site that we call the Nassau Hub.

Bottom line: Not with our tax dollars, you don't!

Okay. The battle has been lost. What's next?

Islanders to Brooklyn? Cleveland? A Farmers' Market Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Coliseum parking lot? Guided tours of the county's answer to the ruins of the Acropolis?

There was to be no Plan B, according to Nassau County Exec Ed Mangano -- that is, until the Referendum failed, when, suddenly and without fanfare, there was to be a Plan B. Much like Plan A, there are no details and even fewer ideas (although the call for ideas now goes out), there not being much on the vision front in Mineola.

Politically, the Dems blew it (as they seem to do every year), and the GOP flubbed it. "Just say NO" appears to have won the day in Nassau County.

Credibility? Not Wang, whose billions remain in his pocket while taxpayers are out some $2 mil for the failed vote. Not Ed Mangano, whose every proposal since his surprise election has faded into obscurity or been left behind in the dust. Not even Islanders fans, who, despite some gallant efforts and a torrent of blogs and Tweets, could not muster enough YES votes to carry the measure.

So, now what?

Re-enter Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Kate Murray, quietly waiting in the wings to sing out (ala Mighty Mouse), Here I come to save the day!

Yes, it was Kate who denied us the Lighthouse. Too big. Too much. Too bad. Preserving the character of suburbia while figuratively cutting off its head. Lighthouse would morph into Lighthouse Lite, and then, to a new Development Zone, lower density, less height, more suburban. [If it seems that the Town of Hempstead has almost as many "zones" as it does special districts, it does!]

Kate's 77 acres under the Mitchel Field Mixed Use Development Zone has a lower profile, a smaller scale, and, perhaps, a more palatable appeal for the masses. Not so much a grand plan and yet, in the scheme of things, in giving the people what they want as well as what the Island needs (assuming LIers have any clue along those lines), a leaner model may just be that lean forward Nassau County could go for. A Plan B (or are we up to C? D?) that both preserves the suburban character and positions the county for growth.

Would Charles Wang go for the Murray Plan now that the Mangano Plan is dead, cremated, with ashes strewn over the Coliseum?

Depends. It all boils down to economic feasibility. The economy of scale. Would a Lighthouse Lite give Charles & Company sufficient bang for the buck to make this project pop.

We'll leave crunching the numbers to the analysts and wonks. Frankly, it would be difficult to imagine that there wouldn't be enough of a profit in moving ahead with the Murray Plan (details to be forthcoming, to be sure), given Charles' insistence that a new arena alone, as base for the Islanders, is a profit generator. Throw in 500 homes, myriad retail businesses, and a host of recreational facilities, and voila -- a suburban paradise!

Can residents be sold on a Murray Plan? You betcha. Why, even we, at The Community Alliance, are coming around to embrace a Lighthouse Lite. And if there is anyone who can sell the public on such a redevelopment scenario, short of P.T. Barnum, it is Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Kate Murray!

What better time, in an election year [There's an election? Really? Hey Gary Port, did you hear that?] for Kate and Team Murray to triumphantly proclaim (with respects to Andy Kaufman), Here I am to save the day!, unveiling and, yes, championing the Murray Plan for the Nassau Hub. [General Marshall, you had absolutely nothing on Supervisor Kate!]

Kate. Charlie. The puck is, as they say, in your arena...

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The Community Alliance
Today's Vision. Tomorrow's Reality.

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