Editorial

Editorial: Gov. Cuomo, Nassau needs you at the Hub

An aerial view of the Nassau Coliseum/Mitchell Field

An aerial view of the Nassau Coliseum/Mitchell Field Complex in Uniondale. In the foreground is Hofstra University and Hempstead Turnpike. (Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin, 2011)

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On Friday Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will visit Long Island as part of a statewide tour to inspect the progress of development projects initiated by his Regional Economic Development Councils. As Long Island prepares for the visit, one question: Can he put on his Superman cape and rescue the Nassau Hub?

Anchored by the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, these 77 acres at the heart of the county are the last large tract of land available for development. Whatever happens there should be transformative. But the project has been stalled for years.

The fact that it's complicated is no excuse.


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Brooklyn got the Barclays Center done. After years of lawsuits, NIMBY opposition, recession and shifting plans, the new arena celebrated its triumphant grand opening just last weekend.

And New York City is well on its way to rebuilding the World Trade Center site, one of the most complicated design projects ever, fraught with emotions and symbolism, and overseen by layer upon layer of governments, agencies and private enterprises. Still, after a year of operation, the 9/11 Memorial has registered 1 million visitors.

For Nassau to grow and prosper, it needs to create a similar success story at the Hub.

The governor is currently involved with keeping the NFL's Buffalo Bills in that city while the fate of the NHL's Islanders stalls development here. Some of the economic development council's seed money should go to design a master plan of what is best for the Hub, and perhaps some of the governor's master skills could provide guidance to the negotiations. No one will blame him if the Islanders leave, but there might be questions if he doesn't try.

At a minimum, the ideal project would include a sports facility to serve as a suburban downtown, with amenities such as a park, an ice-skating rink, and other attractions for entertainment and recreation.

Perhaps the development might also be a center for Long Island's growing biotech and high-tech research sectors, which could find synergies with Hofstra University. Perhaps it could include some housing, office space, restaurants and theaters -- or all of the above. There's no shortage of plausible ideas for developing these acres as an economic engine for the region, making the most of Nassau's potential for job creation and growth given its proximity to New York City.

Whatever the specifics, the development should be spectacular.

There is little point in reciting all the failed efforts to get something started. That could be a full-semester college course in suburban planning, featuring an up-close look at the disorienting tango between sports franchises and local government.

The first step is to dislodge the project from its protracted stall. A full development plan would do that, along with money, guidance and leadership. The current stalemate says all the wrong things, that it's next to impossible to do business in Nassau County, that the challenges are insurmountable, that the county and region are out of ideas.

None of that is true, and it's time to prove it.

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