Monday, August 31, 2009
Posted by Nick at Monday, August 31, 2009
The longer post will be coming tomorrow, and it may even be split into a few different pieces, as it's a weighty and long subject. I apologize for being in and out; but I've been very busy with "Real Life" and that combined with a somewhat slow news period. I will keep up as things come up.
Anyway, on we go:
It's an understatement to say that the Lighthouse approval process has been a roller coaster. I did not want this blog to become a Kate Murray Bashfest, like so many other sites had become with little to no reason. However, actions such as the phony stimulus drive left me no choice, and I amped up the criticism. Things did not look good at this point, and even though I never lost my belief that this would get done, I could not deny the appearance.
Suddenly, after the June 2 Long Island Regional Planning Council meeting, it was like a light went off. The day before the hearing, Kate Murray had expressed doubts to the Garden City Eastern Property Owners' Association (in perfect view of my dear friend Christine Mullaney, who after 3 weeks has still not contacted me) that we would even have a public hearing in the summer. Despite this, we had a public hearing on August 4, a hearing that showed, once again, overwhelming support for the Lighthouse Project, another step toward making our Island dream a reality.
I think all Lighthouse supporters moved forward from that meeting filled with hope and setting their sites on the next big milestone: the re-zoning hearing. I began contacting people within the Town of Hempstead to get a good idea of what we could expect next.
I will attempt to follow up again, of course, but I am not alone here. Other bloggers have not heard from the Town, and there have not been many articles in Newsday or any other major publication. Both sides seem to be re-entrenching themselves, with Tom Suozzi and Lighthouse President Michael Picker criticizing the Town of Hempstead for not scheduling a re-zoning hearing yet, and the Town pushing back by reverting to discussions about "process."
After it seemed like there had been too much momentum to go back, that article sounded like we are going straight back to March or April. There is no movement on a final scope, no movement on an FEIS, and no movement on a re-zoning hearing. This, to me, begs the question:
Is there something going on behind the scenes that we don't know?
How did we revert so quickly back to both sides pushing each other from entrenched positions?
Is there a negotiation going on behind the scenes?
This change is far too sudden to be accidental, and I hope to either see a thaw in relations or an explanation very soon.
I have said this before, and I will say it again: I sincerely hope that Charles Wang's self-imposed deadline of October 3 for "certainty" (re-zoning approval) is met, and that we can move forward. However, at this point, it does not look good. I have a few planned pieces depending on how this goes, so stay tuned.
I don't think I, or anybody else who has invested so much into advocating for this project on behalf of our home, can go back now. We had a few very tense months, where it looked like the Town of Hempstead wanted to do nothing more than stall and close its eyes until the Lighthouse Project, and all its supporters, went away. So many were convinced that this was dead in the water, and we were waiting for some glimmer of hope, even though I never lost my optimism (I thought it was just a Dip).
Suddenly, at the beginning of June, it was like a complete 180 - here came the sun, and it seemed like years since it's been clear. We had a relatively peaceful summer, and suddenly approval looked pretty likely.
Since the August 4 public hearing, we have had radio silence from the Town of Hempstead, and it seems on the surface that things have reverted back to the spring mentality. The Lighthouse and Tom Suozzi have been pushing for a quick re-zoning hearing, and the Town has been pushing back and punting on the issue.
I'm reaching out, once again, to the Town of Hempstead, and I hope to make the message very clear:
This must stop.
We will not go back to secrecy.
If something is wrong, tell us.
Keep us in the loop.
I don't want to go back to the vitriol. I - and many others - just want to know....When will we go forward?
A long post (and possibly a series) that answers a very interesting question that someone who reads this site asked me: Why, with such a high-profile project and so many residents of Long Island, did only 850 (or so) people care to write a public comment?
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