Letters: Nassau needs facts on Coliseum
On Aug. 1 we will be voting to allow the Nassau County taxpayers and Charles Wang to build an entertainment complex here in Nassau County, at a cost of $400 million ["Wording for vote offered," News, July 11]. The $400 million is just an estimate and does not include possible cost overruns.
I understand that Charles Wang is a billionaire, yet how much of his money is he putting up for this project? If he feels so strongly about this undertaking, let him put up all the money.
Ticket prices for events at the Coliseum often start at $50 for a sporting event and $80 for a concert. What will be the ticket prices at the new Coliseum, and will the seats be full enough to turn a profit? Is this a gamble our county executive is willing to take with the taxpayers' money?
County Executive Edward Mangano says our taxes will only rise about $58 per household. Many people cannot afford a $58 increase to support a sports team.
Sanford Schneider, Island Park
Even though I have no school-age children, I always vote yes on school budgets, because investing in our children is investing in our future. Rebuilding the Nassau Coliseum, as well as finally developing the surrounding Nassau Hub, is also an investment in our future.
If you visit other cities' new stadiums and their surrounding attractions, as I do in my occupation, you will see the massive influx of revenue and tax dollars these developments generate for decades to come. Also, putting the construction trades back to work spikes the local economy immediately, as hundreds of these people start spending money in local stores and restaurants again.
We have to begin bringing Nassau forward again or it will decay into another Detroit or Buffalo, cities with bleak futures. This shouldn't be a political decision for anyone, Republican or Democrat. This is a public pride decision.
George Higgins, Bethpage
Editor's note: The writer is the commissioner of the Long Island Flag Football League.
Regarding "Make Coliseum a transportation hub" [Letters, July 6]: That is the worst idea that has been offered yet. Imagine the noise, filth, traffic and characters that hang around a bus station. The streets of East Meadow would be unsafe at any time of the day or night.
Nassau County is not Queens. The people of East Meadow and environs want a quiet, safe place to raise their families, not a mid-city, miasmal jungle.
Alice Bulger, East Meadow
Nassau County property owners are the only ones who should have the right to vote ["Not all should vote on a new Coliseum," Letters, July 7]. Voters not responsible for the repayment of these funds through property taxes should recognize this.
I have three questions: 1) Will Nassau County property taxpayers be offered any of the proposed 2,000 jobs, and will they be civil service jobs? 2) Which Nassau County department will maintain this facility? 3) When and if Islanders owner Charles Wang decides to sell his franchise, will the new owner be responsible for the repayment of these funds?
Albert Luppo, Brentwood
As a 40-year county resident, I'd like to weigh in. As columnist Joye Brown mentions ["Pursue best Coliseum deal," July 7], we need full disclosure of documents and someone to interpret them in plain English.
This means that even though Nassau and the Islanders say we will get 11.5 percent of Coliseum revenue, that money should be legally tied into a direct reduction of taxes, or it will get spent elsewhere.
Politicians will argue that money put into the general fund will reduce taxes, but unless this agreement is legally bound to a direct tax reduction, I am not in favor.
Jim Mastrodomenico, East Meadow
The proposed Coliseum deal is very light on the facts. Will Nassau County taxpayers be getting a percentage of the revenue before or after Charles Wang has taken profits?
Will Wang make up a profit shortfall so the Nassau County property owners aren't left paying the bill? What is going to be done to make the Islanders a winning team?
What is the real number of potential jobs? Are there even 500 people working at the Coliseum now?
And the most important question: will the segment of the population that grew up playing soccer pay to see a hockey game?
Jerry Romano, Sea Cliff
This is a positive plan for saving the Islanders with a new arena, bringing a minor-league baseball stadium to Nassau County, creating jobs and bolstering Nassau County's economy generally. This is an easy choice to make, and I will be voting yes.
This plan will spur reasonable development of the entire Nassau hub and create a guaranteed steady revenue stream for hard-pressed Nassau taxpayers. The money due to the county will be based entirely on revenue, regardless of profits. That makes the deal a perfect scenario for taxpayers.
There are those who say that we need more time to study the concept. We have dithered about the Coliseum for years. If this referendum fails, we will lose the Islanders.
The alternative is a dark and empty Coliseum that will sooner or later have to be demolished at taxpayer expense and will be replaced with who-knows-what.
Mike Polansky, Plainview
Editor's note: The writer is president of the Greater Long Island Running Club.
We are facing the most important issue about Nassau County's future since the Mitchel Field leases: the Coliseum redevelopment plan. We need to question whether we should rest our future on entertainment sales, or do we use the money to provide incentives for businesses, to keep jobs in Nassau? Do we vote for one-shot stimulus project work or do we use the money for real substantive construction work via grants to local municipalities to hire local workers?
What guarantees do we have that Charles Wang will not overdevelop the property as a new Lighthouse project? He is promising 11.5 percent of revenue. If we are the ones footing the bill, shouldn't we be getting more?
The procedure for this project is skewed, with a vote held before the project is fully vetted.
Phil Healey, Massapequa
The current proposal is very nice but not thinking creatively. Why not solicit input from a variety of residents, instead of a select few?
High school track and field is one of the nation's largest participatory sports, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. According to the indoor boys coordinator for Nassau County, crossover meets attract over 1,200 participants. Invitationals at the New York City Armory frequently advertise about 5,000 participants.
And there is no venue in Nassau County to host such huge participatory events. Nassau desperately needs an indoor complex.
Leigh Pollet, Long Beach
Editor's note: The writer is a Uniondale High School girls track coach.
We're being told that 1,500 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs will be created with the building of a new Coliseum ["Chambers of Commerce rally for coliseum," News, July 13]. I can understand the jobs created with the destruction and building, but how can 3,000 new permanent jobs be created by just replacing a structure that's already there?
Why are the taxpayers not getting full disclosure of all the facts of this plan before being asked to go to the polls?
Steven Shuster, Old Bethpage