County Officials Respond to Residents on New Arena Proposal

Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker addresses community at library.

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano recently announced the completion of a new lease agreement that would keep the New York Islanders on Long Island for 30 more years - but all their new plans now rest in the hands of Nassau County residents and taxpayers. 

The New York Islanders' lease with Nassau Coliseum will expire in 2015, and due to the deterioration of the facility, Wang and county officials have constructed a redevelopment plan they deem necessary - not only for the NHL team, but for the future of Nassau County, according to Chief Deputy County Executive Rob Walker. The public vote will take place Aug. 1.

In efforts to inform the community, the county has organized a series of informational meetings over the next month where they will share facts in regards to the new arena proposal and address any concerns residents may have. One of the first meetings was held yesterday at the

East Meadow resident Bob Socci spoke to Walker about the Aug. 1 vote, questioning why it needs to be held so soon.

"We do not want to ram this down people's throats," Walker responded. "We have an issue with one of our major tenants. This is not all about the Islanders, but this is about putting people to work today. We do not believe it's prudent to wait."

In addition to the new sports arena, the proposal also features a new minor league ballpark. According to the agreement, the new proposal will create $1.2 billion in revenue along with 3,040 permanent jobs and 1,515 construction jobs.

"Hockey is the smallest part of the coliseum use," Walker explained. "The majority of the coliseum use and where the revenue is really derived from is concerts, the circus that comes here and other programs and events that take place. It's about stimulating an economy that has been stagnant for too long, we cannot afford to wait."

Michael Turner of East Meadow couldn't help but disagree. He too felt the Aug. 1 vote is a bit too soon and also added that many residents will not be aware of the standalone vote considering it is amid summer vacation.

"If you wait four more months to the November vote when you've got thousands of residents coming, everybody will have a right," Turner said. "It won't be disenfranchised because they're on vacation or they don't get a letter saying you can have an absentee ballot. This is a big issue, it's a 30 year commitment."

Another common concern among the community was the tax increase that will effect Nassau County residents. Though the number is currently unknown, taxpayers can expect to see a $48-$58 addition.

Tom Gallagher of Wantagh felt his taxes should not be impacted from this project.

"If the vote doesn't pass, we will be paying for this election," Gallagher said.

East Meadow homeowner Jose Ramos, a United States veteran, agreed with Gallagher and expressed his concern in regards to the undetermined amount of time taxpayers will be charged for this plan.

"When the revenue is coming in, you don't need my $48 anymore," Ramos said. "The revenue should be taking care of it. Once a tax goes in, it never comes out. If there's an end date I could see, then maybe I could consider this."

Drew Fried July 01, 2011 at 02:10 PM
The county needs to look at the return on investment of the election. Why spend extra money to hold a special election when there is a general election in Nov. Also is the Town of Hempstead on board with the project or will it be held up anyway by the local town gov't.


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