Gurwin Jewish Nursing Center in Commack.

Gurwin Jewish Nursing Center in Commack. Credit: Meghan Giannotta

Daily Point

Speaking out on nursing homes

As the spotlight continues to hover over nursing homes, and their response to the coronavirus pandemic, Gurwin Healthcare System chief executive Stuart Almer decided this week to take matters into his own hands.

On Wednesday, Almer held a virtual meeting for state lawmakers via Zoom, in the hopes of showing state senators and Assembly members how the pandemic has affected Gurwin, one of Long Island’s largest long-term care facilities, and conveying how the industry will face a significant financial hit going forward.

“I had this call because I’m worried about the future of nursing homes — not just us,” Almer told The Point in an interview Thursday. “This is an industry under siege.”

See what else Almer said about the state of nursing homes during the pandemic.

Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Meet the new boss?

By Monday, Nassau County may have a new partner at Nassau Coliseum. 

Nassau County officials are “hopeful” that they’re going to come to a deal with Onexim Sports and Entertainment and its lender, Nick Mastroianni II to transfer the lease on the Coliseum to the lender, sources told The Point. 

The county had sent Onexim a notice of default last month, and most recently extended the deadline on the default to Monday. 

A deal likely would include an agreement that would make Mastroianni and his company, U.S. Immigration Fund, responsible for paying back more than $2 million that Onexim owes the county in unpaid rent. 

Mastroianni’s company has been involved with Nassau Coliseum since 2015, when he was tasked with arranging a $100 million loan for Onexim from 200 Chinese investors, each of whom provide at least $500,000 in exchange for a visa and a path to permanent U.S. residency through a green card, as part of a controversial federal program known as EB-5. 

The lease transfer does not require county legislature approval, county officials said. But if there’s any renegotiation of the lease after the transfer, that would require lawmakers’ approval. 

This week, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency voted to transfer its own tax benefits agreement to Mastroianni. That agreement – a 50-year property tax exemption – is unusual, in that it doesn’t have any real value, since the land is owned by Nassau County and even without it, the leaseholder wouldn’t pay property taxes on public land. Sources said it serves as a guarantee to maintain that exempt status in case the county ever sells the land. 

Also key: Developer Scott Rechler, and his company, RXR Realty. Rechler is involved in the negotiations with Mastroianni, as any deal on the arena will have to address the plans to redevelop the 70 acres of surrounding land, on which RXR hopes to build housing, entertainment and office space. Onexim was a partner in that development, so now Mastroianni will have to play a role there, too.

Still to come: An agreement on who will operate the arena if and when it reopens. Oak View Group, a partner in the Belmont Park redevelopment, has expressed interest, but that’s not a done deal – and likely won’t be part of whatever agreement might emerge Monday, sources said. 

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Hand it over

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Final Point

LIPA’s messenger moving on

For the past five years, as LIPA struggled to come to agreements on reducing the taxes on the several older National Grid-owned power plants it buys power from on Long Island, LIPA Director of Communications Sid Nathan has been the one in charge of crafting and communicating the organization’s message. 

Now, just as the tax-appeal saga may be nearing its end, Nathan’s tenure at LIPA is, too. Nathan tendered his resignation late last month and his last day at LIPA will be Aug. 18. He has accepted a position as director of external affairs at Ravenswood Holdings in Long Island City. The company, backed by private equity firm LS power, operates a 2,500-megawatt generating facility, but is planning the development of new clean energy projects, including a 316 megawatt battery storage unit.

Nathan, 34, is well-known in political circles because, before coming to LIPA, he served as Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s director of internal communications and in former North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman’s administration. 

Nathan also ran for North Hempstead town council in 2013 as a Democrat, suffering a lopsided loss to Angelo Ferrara.

As Nathan leaves, LIPA is under fire from last week’s storm response, though Nathan makes it clear that he resigned before Tropical Storm Isaias headed this way, and at the moment PSEG seems to be taking more heat from LIPA. And the Northport Power Plant appeal will either be settled at a Huntington Town Board meeting on Sept. 3, if the town accepts the deal, or by the judge presiding over the case soon thereafter.

“For five years, I’ve gotten to work on the public relations effort to settle these ongoing tax certiorari cases and educate communities and their leaders that settling was best for them, and fairest to ratepayers Islandwide,” Nathan told The Point. “It’s been a challenge, but it’s also been very rewarding as I’ve seen the progress we’ve made.”

—Lane Filler @lanefiller