“We are all Islanders” was the rallying cry at the Nassau Coliseum the last two seasons. With a yearning for the return of the Islanders’ glory years, we need to discover new and innovative ways to develop the “Hub” so our Islanders and Long Island can once again prosper.
This is not a Republican, Democratic or union issue — it is a Long Island issue. Although the public has spoken, and I respect the will of our citizens, that area is too precious a resource to let it deteriorate any further. I recognize the fiscal realities of today’s economy, and let there be no doubt, Nassau County is in a financial quagmire, but to do nothing is not the answer.
I therefore propose a bill from the New York State Legislature establishing a Nassau Coliseum Arena Authority that would be empowered to sell tax-exempt bonds to finance the future development of the Hub. With rental income securing the bond issuance, this Arena Authority would have financial oversight responsibilities and negotiate contracts for future development. Development should include a green (LEED) environmental initiative and be as energy efficient as possible, while adhering to a construction budget under the Arena Authority’s
The Town of Hempstead, with the assistance of a consultant, Frederick Clark Associates, has now put into place the zoning necessary to accommodate and accomplish the redevelopment of the Hub acreage in a fashion that is agreeable to the community. The town is to be applauded for providing the tools for the future development of a mixed use community. The proper zoning was not in place before the Lighthouse project was floated, but now it is available for a developer or group of developers to exercise development rights within the zoning code.
If properly conceived, there is no reason why this area can’t prosper and attract a new generation of Long Islanders who will help keep Nassau County a special place to live. The time for casting blame has passed. The public has spoken, and people want development, but from the private sector. Let us move forward together to accomplish that goal. I am confident we can!