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by Brittany Kachingwe / New York Islanders
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A powerful surge of excitement and anticipation filled the Hofstra University Adams Playhouse Monday morning as New York Islanders Owner, Charles Wang walked to the podium.

“The widespread support of the Lighthouse Project has been overwhelming,”
Wang said.  

Charles Wang speaks at the Lighthouse Project Public Hearing.
Overwhelming indeed, as thousands of supporters began to settle down after giving the man who has proposed to give their hockey team a new/renovated home a standing ovation.

At the start of the hearing, people were still filing into the packed amphitheater to not only listen, but to make their voices heard in support of the Lighthouse Project.  Though the hearing was focused on the environmental aspects of the Lighthouse Project, many took to the podium to reiterate the necessity and urgency of completing the project.

“Only 8% of Long Island’s population are ages 24-34,” Tom Suozzi, County Executive said.  “Young people are not moving back here.  We need an exciting venue that can provide jobs and homes.  With the completion of the Lighthouse we can be a model for future suburbia.”

Prior to today’s public hearing, Wang, Scott Rechler and members of the Lighthouse Project committee, hosted over 220 outreach meetings.  Clips from the meetings were seen in a video compilation that included renderings of what the Lighthouse Project will look like and pleas from numerous Long Island natives speaking of the need to build the project and give the Islanders a renovated home.  

“The future of Hofstra University and this region are intertwined,” Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra President and the host of today’s hearings, said.  “50% of our students are from out of state and we can’t keep them here because they can’t afford to live here.  The Lighthouse will allow them to stay and will attract young scholars to help this area of Long Island flourish.”

Speakers at the hearing ranged from politicians to business owners, from environmental leaders to hockey players.  Among the various speakers, was National Hockey League Commissioner and Long Island native, Gary Bettman.

Wide angle view from the Lighthouse Public Hearing.
“There is probably no worse professional venue in North America then the Nassau Coliseum,” Bettman said. “This is not the time to look back but the time to look forward.  The future of the Islanders is bright!”

The hearing followed a rally that was held in the parking lot of Nassau Coliseum where over 300 supporters gathered with signs and rally cries.  12-year-old McKenzie Dowd of Bayshore and her father Patrick were among the supporters.  They arrived in the Coliseum parking lot at 7 a.m. and sat in the bed of their truck with signs that read “Robert Mose’s vision worked, so will the lighthouse” and “I’m the future, so is the lighthouse.”

“When I get older I want a place where I can shop, eat, hang out with friends, go to concerts and see Islanders games,” McKenzie said. “The Lighthouse will bring more people to Long Island.”

The two Islander fans have been to countless Lighthouse Project meetings over the past few years.

“The Coliseum is outdated,” Dowd said.  “The Lighthouse will not only provide a great place to watch Islanders games, but it will also provide a place where after the games, fans can eat, walk, and hang out with friends in the fantastic village area.  Something the current empty parking lot cannot provide.  My daughter’s future and her children’s future are dependent
on the completion of the Lighthouse.”

The excitement and electricity of the crowd was at a steady roar throughout the day.  There were labor workers, politicians, hockey players from past and present, parents and children all in support of the Lighthouse Project, all formed as one group…Islanders.

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