Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announced plans in last night's State of the County address to build a new practice facility and corporate offices for the New York Islanders at Cantiague Park in Hicksville -- even as the team moves to Brooklyn next season.
Mangano said the project will "cement the Islanders in Nassau and provide hope that we will witness their full-time return" after the Nassau Coliseum undergoes a privately funded renovation beginning this summer.
The Islanders signed a 25-year contract in 2012 to play at the Barclays Center beginning in the 2015-16 season.
The Islanders' corporate office is now in the Coliseum, which will close for 18 months during the renovations. The team practices at Islanders Iceworks in Syosset but county officials said the site is outdated.
Mangano said the projects would be at no cost to taxpayers but he declined to discuss the financial details after his speech.
A contract would be submitted to the Republican-controlled county legislature.
Mangano said the new facilities and renovated arena "provide hope for Islanders fans" that they could return because developer Bruce Ratner both owns the Barclays Center and is spending $229 million to renovate the Uniondale arena, adding a sports-and-entertainment complex to the site.
"The decision-makers are involved in both facilities," Mangano said.
Islanders officials did not return calls for comment and a Barclays Center spokesman declined to comment.
Ratner and his staff will control all programming decisions at the renovated Coliseum.
Mangano's speech Wednesday night, at the Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park, is his sixth since he was first elected in 2009. The Republican re-elected in 2013 announced plans Tuesday to sell five acres of land on the southwest portion of the Coliseum property to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to build a $140 million, privately funded outpatient treatment and research facility.
His speech did not mention controversial recent efforts to raise county revenue, including the scuttled school zone speed camera program, a proposed electronic gaming parlor or a plan to erect billboards along the Long Island Expressway.
In his response, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) called the cameras and casino "gimmicks that erode the quality of life in Nassau."
In his speech, Mangano said crime is down 25 percent in Nassau since he took office. Those figures do not include the Village of Hempstead, where there were 11 homicides last year.Mangano cited police efforts to curtail the sale of heroin and prescription narcotics, gun buyback programs and a new focus on predictive law enforcement, by sending cops to targeted areas where certain crimes are more likely to occur.
Among those in attendance at the speech were the family of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, the two men shot dead in December in their patrol car by an ex-con who then killed himself shortly afterward.
To keep young people in Nassau, 3,500 new apartments have opened or are under construction throughout the county, including more than 1,000 units converted from vacant office space near Long Island Rail Road stations, Mangano said.
"Our housing initiative not only assists young families, it revitalizes downtowns by eliminating community blight and increasing economic activity," he said.
Mangano also focused on his environmental record, including the county's contract with New Jersey-based United Water to manage Nassau's sewage treatment system and the state's recent commitment of $150 million for a nitrogen removal system at the Bay Park sewage treatment plant.
Mangano said he continues to work with state and federal officials to secure an additional $550 million to build an outfall pipe that would extend into the Atlantic Ocean, instead of nitrogen-choked Reynolds Channel.