Poll: Majority of LIers back Wang's Lighthouse project

Artist's rendering of the planned Lighthouse project. Artist's rendering of the planned Lighthouse project. Photo Credit: Handout

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A solid majority of Long Islanders say they support the Lighthouse, the controversial $3.7-billion project that would turn the acres of asphalt around the Nassau Coliseum into a complex of housing, stores and offices, according to the Newsday / News 12 Long Island / Siena Research Institute poll.

Fifty-one percent of 1,037 registered voters polled in Nassau and Suffolk want the project built; 25 percent don't, and 23 percent didn't know or had no opinion.

Support for the project appeared to be widespread - with majorities of blacks, whites, Republicans and Democrats backing it.

The findings jibe with the results of surveys that Lighthouse officials say they've been taking for the past year. They declined to comment for this story.

Johnnie Paylor, 71, a Uniondale homeowner who responded to the survey, said the plan "would be good for our county. In the long run, it's advantageous for everybody - the people that will be employed, the needed housing."

But Alvaro Souza, 75, a respondent from Baldwin, questioned the need for the project: "First of all, we've got a nice stadium. Spending so much money on it doesn't make sense right now."

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The proposal calls for renovating Nassau Coliseum and placing a 42-building mixed-use community on the 77 acres around the arena.

Hempstead Town must approve an environmental impact study and rezone the site.

However, Hempstead has drawn criticism from Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi and the developers, who charge the town is delaying approval. Some project supporters speculate that Hempstead Republicans don't want Suozzi, a Democrat, to get credit for the development; others predict the multifamily housing will attract more Democrats than Republicans, eroding GOP political power in their stronghold.

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, a Republican, said Tuesday that "the town board is taking the time to do it right. I support reasonable development around the Coliseum."

In the poll, blacks and men came across as the staunchest Lighthouse backers, with 61 percent of each group in favor. Only 17 percent of blacks and 21 percent of men were opposed. Overall, 51 percent of whites favor the project.

Political affiliation made no significant difference, with 51 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of unaligned voters approving of the project.

Women were one of the few groups where supporters were less than 50 percent.

But Arlene Criveau, 60, of Levittown, said she is "100 percent for" the Lighthouse "if it helps bring the taxes down. . . . If it helps bring jobs in, that's a good thing, too."

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