Today is the day. The day where, in truth, nothing will be decided whatsoever, yet hopefully the process inches forward with more news, more information, more clarity. Real progress is made not through silence or antagonism but through collaboration and communication. That seems to be the crux of what this evening's outreach meeting at the Uniondale Marriott -- the 180th yet most publicized such meeting -- is about.
The Lighthouse Development Group has made its case clear, in a hundred different venues, but resistance has come in the form of curiously silent or cryptic non-involvement from other stake holders. (Hence Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray regrettably calling this meeting a "developer's pep rally.") The LDG is guilty of trying to accelerate the process, but where local politics is concerned that's hardly an offense. The worst legal thing a politician can do is pretend it's not his/her job to engage.
To bring the conversation into the light, to enable open community inquiry, and to engage reluctant
community leaders politicians who nonetheless hold power, tonight the LDG holds this public outreach meeting, which the project's industrious Katrina Doell calls "the biggest day of the last two years."
For non-Islanders followers, the details of this long-running saga are too long and arduous to lay out here. Just know this: Islanders owner Charles Wang and development partner Scott Rechler have long pushed a (mostly privately funded) plan to redevelop the Coliseum and its surroundings into a project that many feel is necessary for a functional next generation of Long Island. As a bonus, it keeps Long Island's only pro franchise at home. But this is not just about a hockey team -- and it's by no means a community hijack like the Marlins just pulled off in South Florida.
The plan has passed several hurdles, but there are a few important ones just around the bend. Though it's a civic development question, as always with these human foibles, it appears to be becoming a political question. Personally, blogging a hockey club from a distance is an awkward position when the club's future becomes mixed up in civic questions. So after the jump is a sampling of thoughts and resources from other bloggers "on the ground."
If you're just dropping in and don't have a stake in the Islanders, you're probably of the view, "Wake me up when a direction is set." But for Islanders fans and for young professionals hoping for a progressive future on the Island, today -- and any ripples that come of it in the weeks after -- is a pretty big deal.
- Nick G. of Let There Be Light(house) and Chris Botta of IslandersPointBlank have been on this constantly. Both caution to use tonight for civil discourse -- not Islanders rooting (which could backfire) nor for booing any Town of Hempstead reps who actually show up.
- Botta (same link): "It is our hope that Wang, Rechler and Suozzi push this story forward, tell us something we don’t already know." Perhaps a new development with the existing lease.
- One way things have gotten misconstrued is that a state-mandated environmental review must take its course. As Nick has noted repeatedly, people confuse that process with Murray's reluctance to say anything nice about the project. Nick explains the nuts and bolts of that necessary review, in Part I and Part II. (Part III is to come. I told you this is complicated.)
- B.D. has repeatedly dug into the possible political machinations behind Murray and/or the Town of Hempstead's treatment of the project. The least conspiratorial of these possibilities is that the ToH simply doesn't like to be rushed.
- Doug at Official's Outlook feels at the mercy of pol's, so the only resort is the voting booth.
- Islanders Outsider wonders what momentum can be created tonight -- and if Wang and Rechler are trying to speed the process because the patient game only lets other influence peddlers to get their strings attached.
- NYI Fan Central, as he is wont to do, is skeptical about the relevance of tonight's meeting.
- Like almost everyone, 7th Woman has said just go to the meeting already. But she also gets annoyed by the fears of traffic, (a Long Island staple).
Best wishes to all in attendance.