Well, in truth, the time to talk about the Lighthouse project has never paused, but this site is a little more focused on the ice (okay, and on random artifacts). Still, the ice won't be around long without the Lighthouse project. And tomorrow's Town of Hempstead zoning hearing is one of the landmark days in the long saga of Charles Wang's efforts to keep the Islanders in Nassau County -- and for so many to re-imagine a better future for the area.
For locals, the time to show up is tomorrow, Sept. 22, from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., or 2 - 5 p.m., or 6 - 9 p.m., at the Adams Playhouse at Hofstra University. For furry foreigners (like me) and transplants (like so many fans and young natives now spread across the continent), your voice can still be heard by emailing the Town of Hempstead.
It's a funny position for me: A long-distance fan of this team all my life, I've befriended Long Island natives along the way (hockey fans and non-hockey fans alike) who have given me an insider's picture of a place I've only known as a visitor, of a municipal politics environment I can only watch in awe. But the future of this team -- and by extension, this site -- rests on the outcome of this project. It's a situation I can't (and probably shouldn't) put into words. Best leave that to those for whom this is about much, much more than a hockey team:
The Newsday editorial that captures the concerns and mistrust in the political environment: "Is Murray commendably, but mistakenly, trying to ensure nothing goes wrong? Or, is she trying to engineer the failure of the project and trying to make sure she doesn't take the blame?"
The Entire Picture
Nick, who has exhaustively covered this process at Let There be Light(house) like no one else: "This is, quite possibly, our final and most important call to arms within the Lighthouse process, and a strong turnout can permanently tip the scales in favor of the Lighthouse Project. I have said many times throughout this process that the re-zoning hearing is the ultimate milestone...
...We realize that insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, and we want the Lighthouse Project to become a reality so our Island can ensure its economic survival for generations to come."
As Nick and others have noted, the Town likely fears the scope of the project, and sees this hearing as once chance to rein it in. [Note: Nick will make another appearance on the PredsOnTheGlass podcast from 8-9 p.m. EDT tonight.]
Call to Arms
Our buddy Doug (IslesOfficial), another native young professional: "It is imperative that we again show our support and prove to those in political positions of influence that this is a Project worth constructing. Let your voices be heard and your presence be felt."
Chris Botta got the concerns of a union president whose members are often working elsewhere, but who would see considerable work if the project goes through.
Transparency, and Motives
Throughout this process, the ugliness inherent in local politics has surfaced: People often enter local politics either to do good -- or to cling on to what they have. Meanwhile, citizens expect transparency from their local officials; yet many also fear change -- and everyone is inclined to look after their own interests first, transparency be damned. If you're comfortable, it's easy to want to sit tight and not adjust to new challenges that feel off in the horizon. Dee/7th Woman captured the frustration of this on-again, off-again transparency, the intermittence of which only feeds further mistrust.
Oh, Did I Mention Politics?
From all appearances, Wang actually tried to avoid the typical threaten-to-move-or-else tact we've come to expect from sports franchises. You might think, since -- unlike most of these deals -- he isn't asking a municipality to build him a stadium, that'd be the path. You'd be wrong. So the drumbeats have finally emerged over the last year: Wang has played hardball, he's scheduled this game in the shiny new arena in Kansas City (where I'll be while the hearings are taking place), and he's engaged in the PR game to call attention to just how serious the situation is, and just how difficult it has been.
So that's where you get tomorrow's Kansas City game, plus the periodic rumors that others are pursuing the team (Brooklyn being one: Here's Chris Botta on the latest incarnation of that one. And here's Brooklyn-born B.D. Gallof on why that'd be crazy.) I'll say this: You know what resting your hopes on a Russian oligarch-turned-savior reminds me of? Bad Idea Jeans.
Keeping Tabs on the Zoning Hearing
In the end, it's a lot to digest -- and quite a bit to explain to outsiders who just hear a Kansas City rumor here or wrongly assume Wang wants taxpayers to build him something. It's much different and far more complex than that.
As for tomorrow, you can follow along through the Lighthouse Development Group's live blog here, organized by LDG's tireless Katrina Doell, who also runs the group's official Twitter @Lighthouse_LI.
Good luck to everyone involved. It's a huge day. Makes this silly game of hockey feel rather small, actually.