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Thursday, March 26, 2009
Lighthouse Meeting Commentary
Just returned home from the Marriot and I am still trying to take in everything that was brought up at this evening's public forum on the Lighthouse project. For a complete recap of tonight's event (virtually speaker-by-speaker), check out Chris Botta's entry on Islanders Point Blank. As for my blog, just a few notes:
-Charles Wang proved tonight why he is such a successful businessman. He is one of the most charismatic people I have ever seen. His wit and humor made Charles seem just like a regular guy. During the Q and A portion of the evening, Wang told an anecdote about asking Mike Milbury when halftime was during his first game as the Islanders' owner. At another point, Charles Wang looked up in mock prayer at the mention of the first overall draft pick. There were half a dozen times when he had the room in stitches. Still, despite some comic relief, Wang showed his commitment to this project and gave the genuine impression of doing something great for Long Island.
-The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-lighthouse, almost affirming Kate Murray's stance that this was more of a pep rally than a constructive meeting. I happened to be seated next to the lone anti-lighthouse couple in the building. As Uniondale residents, the pair was extremely angered about the congestion and traffic that this type of development would create. At one point, the woman stood up and said that she "didn't want this in her backyard" to which an obnoxious lighthouse supporter yelled "LEAVE". I truly wish this couple had more of an opportunity to voice their opinions and weren't so severely outnumbered.
-All of the politicians who spoke were in favor of the project and basically said the same things. The representative for the district of Uniondale, Kevan Abrahams, was particularly insightful in his support of the project. He urged his constituents to express their concerns at this point so that they can be worked out and won't ultimately interfere with the big picture. He encouraged his residents to look at the project as the area's stimulus package and to think about the drastic effect that a vacant coliseum could have on property values in the area.
-There was a major focus throughout the night on how Long Island is "losing its future" in the sense that many Long Islanders between the ages of 24-34 are moving off the Island or not coming back to Long Island after going away for college. As a high school senior, I was particularly intrigued by this topic. Tom Suozzi asserted the fact that young people are looking elsewhere due to a lack of housing for rent on Long Island and that the residential area surrounding the Coliseum would be an optimal place for young people on Long Island. While I'm not sure where I will be after college, I certainly know that I would consider a development like the one proposed in the Lighthouse project.
-Overall, it was a very interesting night. I think many fans expected something huge to happen tonight, but I don't think we saw anyone drop a major bombshell. Suozzi told us bluntly that if the project doesn't happen that it would be nearly impossible for the team to continue playing the Coliseum, but I don't think this was really news. As far as a time frame goes, October seems to be the make or break month for approvals. Tom Suozzi said, however, that we should know by mid-April just how well things are progressing. Well.....lets cross our fingers.
Feel free to comment with any questions about the meeting or any commentary of your own