After what seems like decades of inaction -- but in reality has only been months -- the New York Islanders' Lighthouse Project finally took a couple steps forward. At this point, the project is making snails look like NASCAR drivers, but such is the political landscape on Long Island and the process for approving a project of this scale.
For months Town of Hempstead officials have said nothing on the subject, responding to inquiries with a polite letter that 'they're looking into it'. TOH is the last hurdle that Islanders' owner Charles Wang and real estate mogul Scott Rechler need to clear to make their dream become a reality. The project was approved by Nassau County more than a year ago and since, like winning a playoff series, it's been an uphill battle for the Islanders.
However, the Islanders won a small battle in a town hall meeting yesterday. In what was a packed house at Town Hall in Hempstead, the Islanders and their fans called in the cavalry for a meeting on the scope of the project. The Town voted to adopt to the scope and, the next step in the process would be for Wang's group to conduct and hand in a DGEIS study, which details the enviornmental aspects of the project.
Probably growing a bit tired of waiting, Wang's group handed in the DGEIS to the Town at the meeting, something that usually takes months to happen. There's still a long way to go in the process, but Tuesday was a step in the direction of getting the deal approved.
Speaking with Newsday, Wang made his first public comments in months and they were a bit of a departure from his usual rhetoric. For the first time publicly, he did not rule out the possibility of moving the team.
"I'm not contemplating it; I'm not negotiating with anyone, but I continue to keep my options open - and they should be open all the time," Wang told Newsday. "Ultimately, if you don't want to go to a [Islanders] game because the arena is a dump, I lose, the county loses, everybody loses. I want this thing to proceed. We can talk and talk, but we've got to get off our butts. Let's get it done."
Wang is a Long Island native and has pumped millions of his own and partner Scott Rechler's dollars into the project. It would be hard to imagine either of the two giving up on it at this point but at some point Wang may be forced to cut his losses.
Either way, it's another edition of As the Islanders Turn. A program that will continue to air on Long Island for the forseeable future.