Wanna blog? Start your own hockey blog with My HockeyBuzz. Register for free today!

The Lighthouse Project Blame Game: Your Guide To Where It Really Stands

November 26, 2008, 8:49 AM ET [ Comments]

The Blame Game

When the Lighthouse Project won the competitive bid for the Nassau County wasted land mass around the Coliseum, most knew and feared on some level of what Charles Wang was getting into, and pinning the hopes of Islander fans on a brightly paved future. For they were walking into political games and backstabbing that is one of the reasons why nothing has ever been done at the Coliseum in the first place.

It took a land developing owner to finally break through the choke hold. But, that was in 2006. It is now the end of 2008, and Islander fans are beset at all sides with all sorts of games afoot. The date to break ground that Charles Wang set is July of 2009. Meanwhile the NHL and the press have jumped all over the County, saying they are "dragging their feet".

Chris Botta had a nifty interview of Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who threw the Town of Hempstead and Kate Murray under the bus saying it's all up to them.

In speaking to someone deep within the Town of Hempstead, their reaction to Suozzi's statement and the press hub-bub is one of just bewilderment. "We approved the deal. It's on Nassau County!"

They went on to say that of course, they are still working on Environmental Impact issues. Evidently the Lighthouse Project and those running it never thought of how they were going to get water or how to flush toilets (sweage). These are large logistical issues that they must solve with the town of Hempstead in order to get going.

My source went on to tell me: "This is normal procedure with anything being built. The Lighthouse Project is happening"

Therein that statement might lie the truth of the matter. Someone seems not happy at the speed that this process seems to take, perhaps putting in jeopardy that July 2009 shovel date with beginning the project from a construction standpoint. If so, whose fault is it really? The ToH who might have a slow system to the standpoint of fans and locals who want this done. But everyone knew this schedule coming in. And the sewage and water issue is not necessarily their fault either. Construction plans must account for these things.

There is a game afoot that includes Lighthouse Project, the NHL, Nassau County, the Town of Hempstead, the press and Islander fans being played out here. Not all are willing participants, but are all involved in some way nevertheless. One large part of it seems to be playing a card of fear on fans that somehow the project is stuck or dead.

It is neither.

My Thoughts

One has to wonder that there is a game of blame seems to being made to create some pressure to quickening this long process. Because in all my tapping of sources and digging, nobody has said anything different: the Lighthouse Project is happening, the process is in earnest, things are being worked on, the disconnect might be that start date. And that, my blog readers, to me...if the very thing that seems out of whack and where this discord might lie. However, as my special guest indicates below, any rush on that process could be disastrous to the process, leaving the project open to be challenged.

Nick Giglia is that special guest. Nick is co-author of the Lighthouse Petition and part of the fan-led Coalition to support the Lighthouse Project. He also brought me a six-pack of Southampton Double White Ale at the last Blogger shindig I threw.

Take it away Nick . . .

Nick Giglia: "A million thanks to BD for letting me write this up. For those who don't know me, I'm just a diehard fan who joined an advocacy group for the Lighthouse project. Anyway, without further ado…

The Lighthouse is moving along – rumors of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

This past Thursday, the Lighthouse Development Group met with the Planning Commission of Nassau County to give a progress report. This is not a part of the overall review process, but it was an important check-point for both sides to know where the other stands.

Since there is a lot of misinformation out there about the Lighthouse, let me just take a minute to review what's gone on so far:

  • The Lighthouse group won the rights to re-develop the Coliseum in 2006 after a competitive bidding process.

  • The scope of the project was approved by Nassau County, the owners of the land, in late 2006. The process then moved to the Town of Hempstead, which controls the zoning of the land and needs to approve the zoning change.

  • Final scope of the project was submitted to the Town of Hempstead in December of 2007.

  • The Town of Hempstead declared itself Lead Agency on the bid and began the environmental review process in the spring of 2008. This is part of the arduous State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, which is mandated by state law for all projects of this size.

  • After 2 hearings in May/June 2008, the environmental review process began in earnest, and it is almost finished.

The hearing on Thursday shed some new light on the process. From the Lighthouse perspective, the draft environmental document is almost complete, with two sections related to area transportation left to write. Once it is submitted the Town of Hempstead will review before mandatory public comments begin. We should expect public hearings on the project around February or March.

As the public comments are ongoing, the Town and the Lighthouse group will work together on the final scope of the project. One sticking point could be the water, since the Town of Hempstead's current wells are at capacity. The Lighthouse group is working with the Town to find a new well site, though it's worth noting this well would have to be built even if the Lighthouse did not exist. Once the final scope is approved by both parties, the project goes back to the County for approval from the Planning Commission and the sign-off from the Legislature on a lease for the site. At this point, construction can begin.

Depending on the pace of negotiations, construction could begin anywhere from April-December of 2009. The NHL has already said it would allow for the Islanders to play the month of October on the road in order to provide more time for the Coliseum renovations. There is reason to be optimistic because the Town and developers have been partnered through the process, and the Lighthouse people have done a tour of local community groups to explain the project and listen to their concerns.

Now that you know what's going on, you're probably wondering what we, the fans, can do to help. In the short-term, you can sign our group's petition (www.lighthousepetition.com) and write Kate Murray, Supervisor for the Town of Hempstead, at this address:

Kate Murray
Hempstead Town Hall
One Washington Street
Hempstead, NY 11550

If you live in Nassau County, you can also write your local Nassau County legislator to signal your support. To make things easier, the Lighthouse web site (www.lighthouseli.com) has a form letter you can use to signal your support for the project. In the long-term, please plan to attend at least one public hearing when they are conducted next year. This is a critical point for the project, and to turn back now would be disastrous for both the project and the future of the Islanders on Long Island. Some have discussed the option of moving, say to Suffolk County. I respect your opinion, but this is not the time to propose alternatives. If you looked at the Lighthouse as a 100-step journey, we are at roughly step 75 right now. Suddenly going to Suffolk County puts us back at Step 0, because all the reviews and relationships are now meaningless. It could take at least another 6 years to get a shovel in the ground. Please, for the sake of your team, rally around this cause.

The Lighthouse is moving forward, and it has taken as long as it has because the SEQR process is mandated by state law. In fact, the state law is so stringent that, if the review was rushed, any citizen could challenge the project based on an inadequate review, and the process would have to start again from square 1.

The head of the Planning Commission, in closing the meeting, told the Lighthouse people he hoped their negotiations succeeded and they would be back in front of his group as quickly as possible.

I second that motion."
Join the Discussion: » Comments » Post New Comment
More from
» Dubie GONE! MacDonald Out 2-4 Weeks, DP Done For Season
» CHICKENS COMING HOME TO ROOST: Isles Lose, DP To Be Shutdown? Wade On Call?
» SIBLING RIVALRY: Live Blog 7pm Isles vs Rangers
» SIBLING RIVALRY: Rangers vs Islanders - Jan 13th, 2009 Edition
» INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW: What's the deal with Brendan Witt?