Construction unions and restaurateurs Monday continued their push for a new Nassau Coliseum at a rally urging voters to back $400 million in borrowing for an arena and minor league ballpark.
"If we don't get this going, we're going to lose 2,600 jobs," Nassau County Labor Commissioner William M. Weitzman told an audience of more than 100 people in the parking lot of the Department of Social Services in Uniondale.
A countywide referendum on Aug. 1 will ask voters whether to authorize the borrowing. County Executive Edward Mangano and New York Islanders owner Charles Wang have cited redevelopment of the 77-acre hub area as key to Nassau's economic health. Wang also says that without a new arena, the Islanders "certainly cannot stay" after their lease with Nassau expires in 2015.
In arguing for a "yes" vote Monday, Weitzman cited state labor data showing continuing job losses on Long Island. The Island's year-over-year job loss in June was the biggest in the past 16 months because of stepped-up layoffs in both the private and public sectors, the state Department of Labor said last week.
"Long Island is dead; its economy is dead," said Weitzman. "But the Coliseum is the answer. It will create jobs that will create more jobs."
Brian Rosenberg, head of the Long Island Restaurant Association, said a new Coliseum would keep Long Island "vibrant."
The executive director of the Long Island Construction Association, Marc Herbst, said about one-third of the members of most construction unions on Long Island are out of work. "This project is the foundation for the future of Long Island," he said.
A consultant hired by the county said that if team leaves, Nassau's economy could lose $243.4 million annually. If the Coliseum were to close, 2,660 jobs and $104 million in annual earnings also would be lost, the Camoin Associates report said.