To the ire of local civic leaders, a casino at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum property remains a realistic option for County Executive Ed Mangano, who recently reiterated his desire to develop the county-owned land in Uniondale.
The casino, a mixed-use development and a taxpayer-backed renovation of the Coliseum were three options outlined by Mangano in his State of the County address on April 11.
According to his spokesman, Brian Nevin, determining the property’s future is a priority for Mangano this year. “County Executive Mangano will move forward with a development plan this year to create jobs and jump-start our local economy,” Nevin said.
Mangano’s office did not comment on a recently published report that the county had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Long-Island based Shinnecock nation to build a casino, hotel and conference center at the Coliseum.
The Shinnecock nation, which gained long-sought federal recognition as an Indian tribe in October, has publicly expressed its desire to develop a casino on Long Island but has yet to focus on a specific site. “We are still looking at sites, and hopefully will find one,” said Beverly Jensen, a Shinnecock spokeswoman.
The future of the Coliseum has been in limbo since last July, when Mangano and New York Islanders owner Charles Wang balked at the Town of Hempstead’s scaled-down vision for a mixed-used development on the county-owned property, questioning its economic viability. Wang, the lead developer of the Lighthouse project, sought to transform the land around a refurbished Coliseum. His multi-billion-dollar proposal included a five-star hotel, a convention center, a sports and recreation facility and space for retail stores, businesses and restaurants. Wang failed to win the necessary approvals from the Town of Hempstead, which conducted a series of public environmental and zoning hearings in 2009, at which residents spoke both in favor of and against the project.