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In the blink of an Isle

Aerial of NYCB Live Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale,

Aerial of NYCB Live Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, on April 21, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

Daily Point

Looking post-season for the Nassau Hub

One year ago this Wednesday, Onexim Sports and Entertainment closed Nassau Coliseum, leaving the future of the arena and the surrounding property in doubt.

What a difference a year makes.

Thursday night, the Coliseum will host a raucous New York Islanders playoff game. And while the land around the arena known as the Nassau Hub remains empty, plans to transform it into an economically vibrant destination are moving forward.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin told The Point this week he was "steadfast in the commitment" to get the Hub developed. The process, he said, is ongoing, and he expects town approvals will come in the last quarter of the year.

That fits well with the timetable provided by RXR Realty, the Hub’s developer. An RXR official told The Point that as long as the town completes its work and all approvals by November, "We should be on target for a March [2022] groundbreaking."

"There is an urgency to move forward," the RXR official said. "We have an opportunity to create something truly dynamic in the heart of Nassau County and with the leadership of the county and the town, we have an opportunity to move forward unlike any we’ve had in the past."

In the coming months, RXR expects to unveil new details on what the property will include, plans that have changed somewhat in the wake of the pandemic. Clavin, who has put his chief of staff, Jack Libert, in charge of handling the Hub, said he then expects town, county and RXR officials to meet and go over those plans, so that it’s clear what the town is approving and so any questions are addressed.

But Clavin told The Point he doesn’t think anything will hold up the project this time around, despite the numerous starts and stops of the last two decades.

"You have a motivated town, a motivated county, a motivated developer," Clavin said. "This is not going to falter."

In the meantime, Islanders’ fans have at least two more home playoff games at the Coliseum to look forward to, as all remaining home playoff games will be played in Uniondale. And there’s even talk of holding a viewing party for Game 5, which will be played in Tampa, at the arena as well.

But fans and players alike have bigger dreams - of finishing their time at the Coliseum with a Stanley Cup victory. The developers should start making plans now for how to memorialize that.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Larocca’s still on the map, if a smaller one

James Larocca has played in the major leagues of Long Island public life for decades. His resume includes serving as state transportation commissioner, chairing the Long Island Power Authority, membership on the Public Service Commission, leadership of the Long Island Regional Planning Board, and dean of the former Southampton College.

Older insiders remember that he ran unsuccessfully in 1998 for the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Gov. George Pataki.

From that vantage point, why did Larocca, 77, get himself elected this week as mayor of Sag Harbor, a village with maybe 2,000 residents? One part of his answer: "Tip O’Neill always said all politics is local. But he also said that all politics is the same.

"We have the same dynamic in our little village as anywhere else in America - people in public service for the right and wrong reasons, people who talk too much or not enough. It’s a miniature version of the democracy you have everywhere else in the country." He and his wife have lived there for 21 years.

It doesn’t sound from either side of the campaign as if the fight was too placid. Already a trustee and longtime resident, Larocca narrowly defeated first-term incumbent Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy, 379-357. It was one of the more bitter competitions as voters in villages across Long Island elected their trustees and mayors.

The basic dynamic was simple. She sought to defend her two-year record which Larocca charged fell far short. From her side, Mulcahy told Newsday afterward: "I tried to run a straight campaign and didn’t fight back as hard as I should against the lies and innuendos … At this point, I just want Sag Harbor to heal."

Smoothly recounting the peaks and valleys of the old village’s history, Larocca says the interests of outside developers today present a core issue. "Bit by bit, such a successful un-Hampton is being Hamptonized," he said. Local multi-generational families that have elected to stay become "terrified" that they "can’t afford to stay here … Big money is not coming here to build affordable housing."

Now Mayor Larocca, veteran of civic life elsewhere, has a two-year term of his own to try to make, or maybe reverse, changes in the village.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

Pencil Point

Trump watching

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Data Point

Is LI fertile ground?

According to Census data, Long Island had an average of 51 births per 1,000 women in 2019. This is higher than both the U.S. overall (50) and New York State overall (47). In fact, LI's fertility rate has steadily climbed upwards since 2016's low of 38.

The reason behind the increase, and what this fertility rate number hides, is that there has been a large decline in women aged 15 to 50 on LI. Compared to 2010, that population of women has dropped by 8.15%, compared to a decline of 6.52% for New York overall and an increase of 0.69% for the U.S. Meanwhile, total births have increased slightly since 2016 but remain lower than 2010.

Another way to look at fertility rates is to find the "Total Fertility Rate" (TFR), an estimate of how many children a woman might have through the course of her reproductive/childbearing years. More importantly, the typically estimated rate for "replacement level fertility" is 2.1, where one generation could replace itself without migration. We have crunched the numbers, and you can read about where LI stands here.

These estimates are imperfect. Infant mortality rates and different individual life decisions by women and families can affect fertility rates, but the thresholds offer a general guideline to understand our community.

— Kai Teoh @jkteoh

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