A visit to the Town Of Hempstead

Dragoneye's picture

I'm like many Isles fans on Long Island.  I'm getting fed up with the way the islanders situation is being presented in the media, mostly out of fear that it might be true and not just Newsday sensationalizing the issue as they are wont to do.   I have been following some forums as well as Greg Logan and Chris Botta's blogs regarding the Lighthouse project and just get more riled up.  So I did something about it.  I went to the Town of Hempstead public hearing to investigate more about what is happening with the team. 

I got there and filled out a form stating what I planned on doing there and went inside.  I was prepared to speak in front of a room of about 100 people and grill Kate Murray over why the Isles weren't making progress.  

I was there for about 20 minutes and was approached by two men saying I might have to wait hours to get a word in and they would be happy to speak with me about the issue.  They took me into a small room appropriate for a 5-0 grilling and sat me down.  The two men I spoke with were Joseph Ra, town attorney and Mike Deery, Director of Communications and Public Affairs.  While speaking with them I learned a couple of things and had several other facts confirmed. 

  • Confirmed - The Islanders admittedly have a terrible lease.  The worst in all of major league sports.  It is between Nassau County and the Islanders, and also between Nassau County and SMG.  Not a TOH issue.
  • Confirmed - The lease goes until 2015 and is an ugly behemoth for the tenant.  The team would already be in Connecticut if it weren't.  All home games until then will be played at the Nassau Coliseum unless hell  freezes over. 
  • Confirmed - the TOH has had the ball on this project for one year.   
  • Learned - They are hoping to fast track the Lighthouse project to lower the normal processing time from 4 years to 18 months. 
  • Learned - The Islanders need by law to propose some variations to the project.  The two proposals I heard of were 1.  Nothing and 2.  Some housing.  What this means is they are playing for everything - All or none. 
  • Learned - The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) scope of work that is required by law will be finished by the end of February 2009, a step in the right direction for the team and the TOH.  It is done by a third party and financed by the Isles.  In it they will address the multitude of issues that come up when creating a "city within a city" as Mr. Ra said.    The EIS isn't necessarily about the "environment", ie trees, water, wildlife etc..  It is more like traffic, air pollution, sound pollution, runoff, drainage etc...  This is also an area that the team is hoping will be publicly financed.
  • Learned - The team and and the town have been speaking and as recently as yesterday (February 9th).

If I get any new info I will let you know.  Going there made me feel better about the team not moving, and those guys gave me the impression that things were moving along.  Is there more than meets the eye?  You can bet on it.