Task force eyes Coliseum land plans

The Nassau Coliseum. (July 14, 2011) The Nassau Coliseum. (July 14, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

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A new local task force organized by a major real estate group came together Tuesday to generate ideas for developing the land around Nassau Coliseum.

The group, called Clean Start, will produce a "road map that's workable, that's viable, that's practical [and] that's innovative," said task force chairman Alan Eidler, chief executive of Spiegel Associates, a Jericho real estate company hosting the meeting.

The task force, formed by the Association for a Better Long Island, a real estate group, hopes by Labor Day to present ideas to help guide the county in crafting its request for proposals for the site, Eidler said. The ABLI had opposed a plan, rejected by voters on Aug. 1, to borrow up to $400 million for a new arena and minor league ballfield.

County Executive Edward Mangano had asked for initial ideas by Friday. The task force said it needed more time.

"While I was under the impression that the ABLI had a solution on hand, I have called on all those with privately financed development proposals to bring them forward as soon as possible, as the New York Islanders are clearly being courted by other municipalities," Mangano said in a statement.

Recommendations by the task force will include a new arena.

"My goal here is to figure out a way that we keep the Islanders here and to improve that building if we possibly can, but I agree we need development there, too," said former Islanders star Bob Nystrom, a task force member. Nystrom said he does not speak for the team.

Islanders senior vice president Michael Picker did not return calls for comment.

Some task force members suggested a mix of uses that would include an arena, restaurants, retail, housing and shared parking. Others see the site as a home for industries including biotechnology.

"The need and the urgency to redevelop the hub area . . . is at a crisis level," said Michael White, former head of the Long Island Regional Planning Council. Members said they will work within Hempstead Town's new development zone, which permits construction of 5.4 million square feet of space on the 77-acre site.

The 12-member task force includes private business representatives as well as public officials, such as Hempstead Town counsel David Levy and the North Hempstead Town and Oyster Bay Town supervisors.

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