Sunday, January 25, 2009
Posted by Nick at Sunday, January 25, 2009
Compromise is not inherently a bad thing. In many instances, a compromise could create a better solution than either original option. However, on Long Island, compromise can be death to many well-intentioned building projects, and we need to make sure the same does not happen with the Lighthouse.
Nassau Coliseum could have been much more than it is. When the arena was originally on the drawing board, the Nickerson administration proposed a 20,000 seat arena to compete directly with Madison Square Garden, that arena that had the grace to declare itself "The World's Most Famous Arena." In fact, former Islanders PR man Chris Botta revealed on his weekly radio show just yesterday that there were also plans to extend the Long Island Rail Road from Westbury to an underground station on the Coliseum site. The "secret stairs" between the Coliseum and the Marriott, thought to be a superfluous entrance to the Coliseum Expo Hall, were actually meant to be the entrance to that train station.
This plan was loaded with vision and foresight, but sadly it was not meant to be. Nassau Coliseum was constructed as a "compromise" between the large arena advocates and those who thought it was too "City" and wanted a 10,000 seat arena instead. The LIRR spur was also killed, since in the 1970's the train was considered the transportation of the past.
As a result of this compromise and this failure to make a bold decision, we stand here today with a decaying anachronism that does not have the modern facilities or transportation access that is now expected in a multipurpose arena. It is not difficult to imagine how radically different this discussion would be if the facility was larger with more amenities and mass transit access.
Hopefully, leaders in the Town of Hempstead can follow Nassau County's lead in taking the proper lessons from history. The Lighthouse Project seeks to correct many of the mistakes made almost 40 years ago, and it must be allowed to go forward without major concessions. Failure to capitalize on this momentum could lead to another half-baked "solution" that must be re-addressed in 10-15 years rather than 30-40.
The title of this post says it all, and it should be a blueprint for the Town of Hempstead with the Lighthouse Project: Go Big or Go Home. A watered-down development will only create more issues down the road; you must allow this project to unlock its true potential and bring Long Island into a new generation.
As always, don't forget to Sign the Petition and pass it on to your friends and family.