Committee to plan Hub, Coliseum future

Aerial view of the Nassau Coliseum and surrounding

Aerial view of the Nassau Coliseum and surrounding grounds. (Nov. 3, 2010) (Credit: Kevin P Coughlin)

A state council charged with boosting the Long Island economy has established a committee to propose ways to redevelop the Nassau Hub, including the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The move by the Long Island Economic Development Council comes three weeks after Nassau voters, in a public referendum, rejected a $400-million funding proposal to replace the aging Coliseum and to build a minor league baseball stadium at nearby Mitchel Field.

If the study committee's ideas are found to have merit, they will be included in the county's request for proposals for redeveloping the Hub in Hempstead Town, county officials said Wednesday.

The committee's existence is seen by some as improving chances that the 77-acre Hub will be among the big projects identified by the council for possible state aid. Those projects, along with a five-year plan for growing jobs on Long Island, are due in Albany by Nov. 14.

The local plan will compete with nine others from across New York for $200 million in grants and tax credits, said Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy, who is spearheading the initiative. He also said the plans would be used to award another $800 million in aid during 2011-12.

The Hub committee has 11 members and is led by Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra University president and co-vice chairman of the development council.

No other large tract of development land, such as the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center in Islip Town or the former Grumman Co. facilities in Bethpage and Calverton, has a study committee, though they will be considered by one of the council's larger working groups.

"Those projects are also of tremendous interest," Rabinowitz said in an interview. "But the reason we set up a separate committee on the Hub was because it is nowhere as advanced" as the other projects.

Rabinowitz also said the timing of the Hub request for proposals made the committee necessary since Nassau County "is in the process of thinking about drafting an RFP, this is the time for the leaders of Long Island to give . . . some ideas."

He added, "Everybody on the committee wants to see something built at the Hub. We aren't at odds with each other."

Asked about the Hub committee Wednesday, Nassau Executive Edward Mangano said the county "is entertaining all proposals to create jobs, improve our quality of life and generate revenue to help hold the line on property taxes."

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin confirmed the county would consider the committee's suggestions in drawing up the request for proposals.

Michael Picker, a senior vice president for the Islanders hockey team, did not return a telephone call seeking comment Wednesday. The team's owner, Charles Wang, has raised the specter of moving from Long Island if a new arena isn't built.

Establishment of the Hub Committee and four working groups was adopted by the council Tuesday night.

The council also identified industries that will sustain the region's economy for the next 10 years. Development projects vying for state money will have a greater chance of success if they are in these industries, officials said.

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