Murray stance on Lighthouse plan angers Suozzi, Wang
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray sent a letter to Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi Thursday saying she and the other town board members "will be looking for" specific provisions in the county's lease with the developers of the Lighthouse project before the board approves zoning for the site.
The letter was met with surprise and anger by Suozzi and Lighthouse principal investor Charles Wang.
But Murray, in an interview Thursday night, said the provisions should come as no surprise. "There are no new issues," she said. "Both Suozzi and Wang have talked about them for years."
She said the board is "just trying to crystallize the points that have been talked about ad nauseam." And she said as the final hearing, on Sept. 22, approaches, "this is exactly the time to make sure all the t's are crossed and the i's dotted.
The Lighthouse project calls for a mixed-use development on 150 county-owned acres surrounding Nassau Coliseum.
Murray's letter calls for measures such as requiring renovation of Nassau Coliseum first to prevent the developer from selling his development rights or seeking tax breaks once the project is approved.
Wang said Thursday he was "disappointed and frustrated" by the town's latest move. In recent months he has accused the town of slowing the approval process.
Wang, the owner of the New York Islanders, has said if he doesn't have the go-ahead by Oct. 3 - the start of the hockey season - he will "explore all other options."
"After nearly eight years, Kate Murray has decided to unleash multiple demands to once again delay and jeopardize the Lighthouse project with only a few weeks before the October 3rd certainty date," he said. "This project, with all its benefits in this tough economic climate, constantly falls into political roadblocks."
Suozzi, who has said the lease is "99 percent complete" and ready to be presented to the Nassau County Legislature, said Thursday he hopes Murray's letter "doesn't chase the Islanders out of town."
"It's hard to imagine that with only 23 days until the hockey season begins, Supervisor Murray would bring up 10 new issues that could have been discussed at any time during the past three years," he said.
Lighthouse principals have said the development would create thousands of construction jobs and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue. Murray said Thursday she wants those measures in writing.
Her letter said the provisions are necessary to protect town residents "against the possibility of an Islanders departure after the real estate is rezoned," a move that would permit "a significant intensification of use."
It also said the town expects the county not to complete a lease until the town board reaches a consensus about the Lighthouse proposal after the Sept. 22 zoning hearing.