Hempstead pols: Wang created his own deadline dilemma

Islanders owner Charles Wang gives high-fives before his Islanders owner Charles Wang gives high-fives before his team took on the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Coliseum. (Oct. 3, 2009) Photo Credit: David Pokress

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One day after Charles Wang's self-imposed deadline for moving his Lighthouse project ahead, a Hempstead Town spokesman said the Islanders owner has left "questions unanswered" that must be addressed before officials can act on his $3.8-billion project.

"Mr. Wang created his own deadline dilemma," said Michael Deery, spokesman for Republican Town Supervisor Kate Murray. "What we've been saying all along is that Oct. 3 was a hockey date, not a town board date," referring to the Islanders' season opener Saturday night.

During public hearings last month, Deery said the developers had no answers on how public water was to be supplied, and waffled on the number of buildings included in the project from the "mid-30s to the mid-50s before settling on 42."

He also said developers acknowledge the project will require $120 million in traffic improvements, but their plan only addresses $55 million in work. "The ball's in their court," said Deery, "They have a lot of answers to provide."

Deery said Wang has not provided the town with further information since the September hearing and that is why Murray called Friday seeking a meeting.

Before the Islanders' opener, Wang in a news conference said he was "upset, discouraged, disappointed [and] . . . disgusted" by the town's inaction. "Anything is open," he said, adding he will begin taking calls Monday from those interested in the hockey team or the project.

Wang also said he has gotten eight offers from locations inside and outside New York State that are interested in becoming the Islanders' new home. Wang's spokesman did not return calls for comment Sunday. The Islanders' lease requires them to play all home games at the Nassau Coliseum until 2015.

Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat, Sunday criticized town officials, saying he "can't imagine a more unwelcoming reception" than Wang has received from Hempstead. But Suozzi added that Murray "could emerge a hero" if she showed leadership to settle the project's unresolved issues.

"I don't think the Town of Hempstead is genuinely interested in getting something done," he said. "They are not trying to resolve issues. They are just trying to put up obstacles. It's kind of sad." 

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