Backchecking: The Vision of the Blind

For the nearly 40 years of the existence of the New York Islanders — basically, all of my life — the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been obsolete, or it seems. A privately financed “Lighthouse” development was stalled by the politics of “no,” small minded lack-of-vision thinking and killed at the Town level. A publicly financed stand-alone new arena was served up to the general populous of Nassau County, satisfying the narrow minded Republicans in Hempstead, but angering stupid Democrats at the County level, and even more gullible voters throughout Nassau, falling as usual for simple scare tactics, and failing miserably on August 1. This week saw the latest incarnation of what to do with the 77 acre swath of land that has become known as the Hub.

To say that this latest proposal is weak is an understatement. If this is the grandest vision possible in Nassau County — one of the more affluent and well-to-do Counties in America, then it comes as no surprise as to why every other Country in the world seems to be kicking our ass at every level — innovation, creativity, education — all of it. But I digress…..

The plan it seems calls for 77 acres of lawn, parking, a minor league baseball park, skating rink and a renovated arena for the Islanders.

Wow — all of that energy and for what? This is all about nothing for The People, and Everything for Patronage Cows — at least that is how I it appears on the surface.

It may keep the Islanders here, BUT, the cost again to the People seems to be oddly skewed.

The Lighthouse may have been considered too grand for some, though I disagree. Unfortunately, politics killed that plan from ever getting a fair chance at being negotiated to a working conclusion to provide some benefits to the citizens — In essence — a plan that would generate a tax base rather then create or maintain a tax burden. Ultimately, that is what this new plan would surmount too. A tax burden on the majority of the property. How is the “great lawn” going to generate revenue?

The parking lots and what appears to be a six-story massive parking monolith will require maintenance. It will generate cash revenue when there is a game/function. It will be required for you and I to pay for its use. More fleecing of the taxpayer — how nice. The huge green lawn that seems fit to house St. Peter’s Basilica is one gigantic burden. It will generate nothing in the form of a tax stream to the Town of County. In place of revenue will be cost. Who is going to maintain and mow that lawn? Who will keep it green? How much of out tax dollars will go toward its upkeep, and which patronage slob will garner that government contract?

Keep in mind — I am all for green and open spaces — but I prefer natural ones, not ones that cost money to the taxpayer at large. Not when the natural forest, or landscape was already mowed over for 77 acres of pavement.

And I have to inject — this fetish for building a minor league ballpark. What is the fascination with this concept. We are within 25 miles of one of the greatest sports franchises in history in the New York Yankees — a professional baseball team of the MAJOR leagues. And if you hate the Yankees, we have the New York Mets — also a Major league club. And if that does not suit you, you can go see the Ducks in Islip or Cyclones in Brooklyn. I ask the same question as I ask above — WHY and WHO. Why do we need a ball park when there are 4 of them within 50 miles and who is getting the cash for it once it is built? While it may create a revenue stream, long term corporate rent and affordible housing would offer a greater tax impact, and human benefit to the People over another ballpark.

Some question to consider if you are thinking of commenting….

Why is there no public transit option? The Lighthouse, Murray’s grand plan, and the stand-alone offered nothing of the sort, and neither does this. Why? Most fans of the Mets, Yankees and even the Rangers enjoy the benefit of public transit to see their favorite teams play. It is part of why a queens locale appeals to me so much. It affords everyone the chance to come in, see the game, and not worry about driving there and back. It reduces the traffic burdens and carbon footprint of a structure and allows fans to enjoy the game, have the beers, and not working about DUI/DWI problems.

Where is the tax base? Sure, keeping the Islanders will provide a tax base of sorts, but it sure wont be an INCREASE in taxes coming to Nassau County or Hempstead. Certainly something else could have been proposed to help create a more permanent and 365 day per year tax base on the most valuable real estate on Long Island. Even a casino would be better then this — better in terms of generating top dollars rather then taking them away.

Where is the affordable housing that is needed on Long Island? Or is that one of those NIBY things for Long Islanders?

I am not sure how most feel about this plan as it has just been released. This would not involve the construction of a new arena. It does not allow for a broader tax base. It seems to be very plain, very dull, and very narrow — which is how Long Island has been built for generations. Strip mall after strip mall, incoherent with no long term plan or vision. And we still are faced with hordes of Long Islanders departing for Carolina and Florida to name a few places.

The old way does not work. We can’t keep going back to the 1950s in the hope that something better will happen. The shame is, we, the People, deserve better.

In the end  it is about keeping the Islanders. But in looking at this proposal, or moving to Queens or Brooklyn — I’m not sure I would not consider this latest proposal the third option.




HOCKEY NOTES: I hope to get to hockey related musings in the coming weeks — but I would like to congratulate Mark Streit on being named captain of the Islanders. Smart move by the Islanders. There is no need to put undo pressure on young players like Okposo and Tavares who are still growing and finding their way in the NHL.

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Filed Under: New York Islanders


About the Author: A graphic designer who loves the game....and knows that age has slowed him down — but the passion is there. Islanders fan since the 70s, Dad, Husband and Coach of the Flying Tiger's Email: Twitter:

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  1. BCISLEMAN says:

    The handwriting is on the wall: those banners–and maybe one or two more–will be moving to Queens for the 2015-16 season. Then let the finger pointing begin!

    Glad for Mark, but someone needs to educate him on NYI history. Trots and Pat were never NYI captains. The one great NYI captain is the one whose role as #1 D Mark Currently fills.