Concerned about heated "rhetoric" over the controversial Lighthouse project, the chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council Tuesday sought to mediate between the project developers and the Town of Hempstead.
"I believe the council should try and inject itself and get some mediation here," said chairman John Cameron. "We ask that cool heads prevail and that both sides get together dispassionately."
Cameron's comments came after Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi appeared before the council to discuss his "New Suburbia" plan. He highlighted the importance of major development, such as the Lighthouse around Nassau Coliseum, to help expand a shrinking tax base and stem the loss of young people.
Suozzi criticized the town's response to the Lighthouse proposal for imposing "obstacles," rather than trying to "figure out a way to do this."
The town has not yet acted on a zoning change request for the site. Developer Charles Wang said he wanted "certainty" on the project by Saturday. On Friday, Wang did accept a request from town Supervisor Kate Murray to discuss "amending the project."
Tuesday, Wang's spokesman did not return a call for comment on Cameron's mediation call. Cameron said he and council executive director Michael White "wanted to encourage" meetings between both sides and planned to call the parties.
Michael Deery, a spokesman for the town, said "we welcome conversations with any people who have anything productive to contribute to the process."
Suozzi told the council the Lighthouse project "has become a symbol of whether or not we can do something here. . . . How is it the Town of Hempstead is not trying to figure out how to build something on this property?"
Suozzi's opponent in next month's county executive race, Nassau Legis. Edward P. Mangano (R-Bethpage), said Suozzi's criticism of the town "demonstrates his lack of ability to bring people together."
Deery accused Suozzi, a Democrat, of "playing politics" and denied the town was throwing up roadblocks. He said Murray, a Republican, "is focused on reasonable development around the Coliseum."
The town had completed its environmental review process in a "remarkably quick" 20 months, he added.