Yesterday, a significant step forward was taken at a public meeting at Town of Hempstead Town Hall. The six members and Supervisor of the Town of Hempstead Board voted unanimously to begin the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process for the Lighthouse at Long Island, the proposed redevelopment of the 150-acre site including the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. In the first official action on the application, the Town determined that it will be the Lead Agency in the SEQRA process and issued a Positive Declaration for the proposal. It is the first administrative action taken by the Town of Hempstead since it received the Planned Development District application submitted by the Lighthouse Development Group (LDG) in November 2007.
LDG Principals Charles Wang and Scott Rechler were present in the audience and were given the opportunity to speak by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray.
"The [Lighthouse] project will create jobs and tax benefits for Long Island," said Wang to the Board. After the meeting he added, "I am happy to get to this point, and glad that the Town was able to get us on the agenda within five days of their 30-day coordinated review period. We are excited to make further progress."
Members of the community voiced their excitement to see the Board act on the proposal and that they hoped the process toward approval would move expeditiously.
"We are pleased the SEQRA process has started and that the Board has issued a Positive Declaration," said Robert Zambuto, a resident of Levittown and member of the Long Island Lighthouse Political and Economic Development Alliance (LILHPEDA), an independent group of citizens whose mission is to see the Lighthouse project built. "We plan on showing continued support and if we can be of any assistance, we will certainly do that."
"Based on where we are today, the continuous community interaction, and the upcoming EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) submission, we anticipate public hearings in the fourth quarter of this calendar year", said Rechler. "Working together with the Town and the County will allow us the begin construction in July, 2009 so everyone can begin to realize the project's benefits".
The LDG's community outreach efforts were recognized by Rosalie Norton, President of the West Hempstead Civic Association.
"The Lighthouse team is doing something that needs to be done, going out into the community and listening to their concerns," said Norton, who has met with members of the Lighthouse several times. "Something needs to be done to keep businesses and our kids here, and jobs can help do that. I thank the town for showing leadership."
The Lighthouse Development Group has been working with various industry experts and has met with almost 100 community groups to identify issues related to the project. A draft scope outlining the issues to be studied for the Environmental Impact Statement will be submitted to the Town shortly. As plans are finalized, the LDG, in order to provide a transparent process, will keep the entire community up to speed on all topics by holding issue-based public meetings.