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Monday, February 08, 2010

LI Herald: Scaled dowm Lighthouse

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New zone to call for 'scaled-back' Lighthouse
Hired consultant to devise 'blueprint' for Nassau Coliseum property
By Mike Caputo

The Lighthouse plan as proposed by co-developers Charles Wang and Scott Rechler. On Monday, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray will announce a plan to craft a new zone for the Nassau Coliseum property that will be a 'scaled-back' version of the original proposal.
A Hempstead Town Council vote on Tuesday would all but certify its intent to consider only a scaled-back version of the Lighthouse project.

Supervisor Kate Murray told the Herald she expects the seven-member board to approve legislation that would authorize the town to retain an engineering and planning firm to devise what she calls a "zoning blueprint" for the 77 acres surrounding the Nassau Coliseum.

The zone would act as a set of guidelines for the type and scope of permitted construction at the site.

The project, led by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and real estate executive Scott Rechler, calls for the renovation of the Nassau Coliseum and the redevelopment of the property surrounding it with a mix of retail, business and residential usages.

The proposal submitted to the town includes a five-star hotel, a new convention center, sports and recreation center, a residential village, space for offices, retail and restaurants, a cinema and a canal.

The new zone would require Lighthouse developers to scale back their proposal, the supervisor explained.

"We will be paying [the consultant] to make a zone to create a development that we believe the board can live with, one we believe the residents can live with, and yet at the same time a project that would take in a number of the elements that Wang has proposed," Murray said. "It isn't going to be the same, but a scaled-down version."

The town will hire Frederick P. Clarke Associates, Murray said. Clarke was overseeing the town's environmental analysis of the proposal until shortly after the zoning hearing, which was when Murray says was about when the Lighthouse group stopped paying for the consultant's services.

According to town officials, the Lighthouse Development Group owes the firm about $200,000 for its services.

Murray also said the Lighthouse group has not answered questions that were submitted by the town board following the September zoning hearing. Some of the major questions included traffic mitigation, building heights and water usage.

The group has "shut their operations down and gone silent," Murray said. "The board understands that this piece of property is too important to be sort of lying in limbo and threatened with a development that goes down the drain."

"We want to jump start the process," the supervisor added.

Follow the first period of a home game between the Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes, Wang told MSG Network announcer Howie Rose that his group awaits a "yes" or "no" answer from the town.

He did not elaborate or provide further comment. A Lighthouse representative did not return a request for comment.

Wang and his group have not addressed the media on the project since Oct. 15, when the Islanders owner denied a published report that claimed he withdrew the project.

On Oct. 3, Wang told the media that he would "explore all options," which could include a possible relocation of the franchise.

Murray said she would announce the town's plan at a Monday morning press conference.

Visit LIHerald.com for updates on this story.
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 Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982. Visit my blog: forever1940.blogspot.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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