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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

From Newsday: Yet another Coliseum plan

Mangano creating plan to redevelop Nassau Coliseum hub
August 25, 2010             by WILLIAM MURPHY                     /
william.murphy@newsday.com  


Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has proposed using long-term borrowing -  
and ultimately taxpayer dollars - to redevelop the area surrounding  Nassau
Coliseum, including the possible renovation of the Coliseum  itself, according
to county documents and officials briefed on the plan.

Mangano and his aides  declined to discuss the plan, for which he has submitted
legislation  that would have to be approved by voters. But the presiding officer
of  the county legislature said it was his understanding that the bill was  
filed with the clerk of the Legislature on Aug. 17 in order to meet the  legal
deadline for getting a referendum on the ballot in November.

The filing "preserved  a one-month window to try and resolve whatever it is they
want  resolved. My sense is that everything is in a flux," Legis. Peter  
Schmitt, a Republican ally of Mangano, said in an interview Wednesday.

"It's a placeholder. If a determination is made to go  forward . . . it had to
be filed," Schmitt said. "My sense is that  nothing is going to get done in the
next four or five weeks, so it's  going nowhere."

The leader of the Democratic minority on the legislature, Diane Yatauro of Glen
Cove,  said she hoped Mangano was not asking taxpayers for "a blank check" for  
what was once envisioned as a privately financed development anchored  by the
Lighthouse project.

During all the years  of talks about redeveloping the hub, county officials
expected to help  with some financial incentives, but never envisioned providing
upfront  funding.

"Now, all of a  sudden, county taxpayers may be asked to chip in at a time when
the  economy remains tough and many are without jobs," she said.

A spokesman for Charles Wang, Lighthouse developer and owner of the Islanders,
said he was interested in learning about the referendum. "We continue to talk to
the county," spokesman Michael Picker said.

Any projects would be  financed by issuing bonds that would be paid off,
typically over 20 or  more years, with property tax revenue, according to
details of the  plans. Property owners would see a special line on their tax
bill  identifying how much money was going to finance the projects.

There was no cost  estimate in a sketchy administration analysis submitted to
the  legislature. It likened the plan to the two environmental bonds totaling  
$150 million that were approved during the administration of former  County
Executive Thomas Suozzi. The county has budgeted $9 million this  year to pay
the debt service on the money that has been borrowed to date  under those bond
acts, according to the Office of Legislative Budget  Review.

Officials of the Town of Hempstead,  which controls all-important zoning for the
area, said they had been  informed of the plan in general, but would not comment
because they had  not been provided enough information. "We're always interested
in  proposals that advance reasonable development in the area," town  spokesman
Michael Deery said.

Deery said county  officials had not indicated the plan was tentative or a
placeholder, and  said one of the possibilities discussed was the renovation of
the  Coliseum.

With Randi F. Marshall
 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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