Nassau County is too populous, too prosperous and too proud to become a place with no significant entertainment venue and no big-time sports team. And it's too tentatively perched between paths of progress and decline to let a crumbling Coliseum and the flight of the New York Islanders pull it into the pit.
But the county and its taxpayers can't be the victims of a contract that leaves them with too much liability.
Monday's referendum on whether the county should borrow $400 million to build a new arena, an indoor track facility and potentially a minor-league baseball park, on the land where the 39-year-old Nassau Coliseum sits, should be approved by voters. Following that, the agreements between the county and Islanders owner Charles Wang must be tightened to bind the man and the team to the deal and tightly cap the county's contribution. The taxpayers can and should be decisively shielded from a disastrous downside by the county legislature. If this cannot be done, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the fiscal monitor of the county, should scuttle the deal. But right now the process should continue to play out.
The most sensible way to evaluate the proposal by County Executive Edward Mangano is to accept that it's going to be paid for by a dedicated property tax increase that will cost the average household $58 a year for 30 years. The deal will garner cash for the county, but how much?