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Ratner, Wang Tapped To Help County Solve Coliseum Conundrum

Renaissance Downtown chosen as master developer

The owner who decided to move the New York Islanders off Long Island once its lease expires in June 2015 may play a role in filling the potential void left by the teams’ departure. County Executive Edward P. Mangano, developer Bruce Ratner, Isles owner Charles Wang and Don Monti of Renaissance Downtown think they have a plan in place to solve the developmental conundrum that is the Hub, which includes Nassau Coliseum.

The group announced a strategic “Reuse Plan” on Tuesday, Nov. 20 that reportedly will transform the Coliseum within the first half of 2013. Others have tried and failed where Ratner is venturing and the 77-acre site in Uniondale could become barren in three years once Wang departs for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The study will ultimately determine the cost of the yet-to-be-known plan, according to Mangano. His main concern is a 40-year-old, 18,000-seat empty building.

“This is a process to avoid a darkened Coliseum,” Mangano said. “With the news of the Islanders choosing to go to Barclays, that creates the possibility of a darkened Coliseum. That’s something I don’t want to see and that’s why we’re going down this path today.”

Ratner, for free, will advise the county on how to proceed to make the Coliseum economically viable to compete for concerts, sports venues and big-ticket events. Monti, founder of the Plainview-based real estate firm was named the master developer for the rest of the Hub site.

It is unclear what cost will be incurred to county taxpayers. Any public monies needed for the project would need to be approved by the county legislature.

 “You have my personal commitment that we will hit the ground running,” Monti said. “I recognize that [Renaissance’s] selection represents a vote of confidence and I can assure that we will not take that responsibility lightly.”

Monti will work with RXR Realty, a firm that aligned with Wang to propose the failed $3.8 billion Lighthouse Project. Where Wang fits into the picture is unknown. He signed a 25-year lease with Ratner after announcing the Islanders would be moving to Brooklyn for the 2015-16 NHL season.

“When you’re dealt lemons, you make lemonade,” Mangano stated. “Here in this case, Charles [Wang] has made a decision to go to [the] Barclays. We continue to talk and maintain a relationship and this [plan] has come out of that.”

Mangano would not directly address any rumored animosity that Wang and he might have had for one another. The county executive would not reveal how he and Ratner met or where the idea originated.

“[Ratner] is a good corporate citizen and we’re thrilled to have him on the team to reinvent Nassau Coliseum,” said Mangano.

Wang was present, but declined to comment during the press conference. Mangano called the Marriot Hotel owner a “key stakeholder” and that “he cares about Long Island.” The hotel is adjacent to the arena, a space in which Wang has total control.

“We need to get something done with the Coliseum and there is no better person than Bruce to entrust for this project,” said Wang in a statement. “Bruce is a passionate individual with a proven track record.  Once we have his road map, we must work together to bring this to fruition.  There are too many jobs at stake and this is too important for Nassau County.”

Ratner successfully secured the New Jersey Nets and Islanders relocation to the Atlantic Avenue arena. While jokingly saying the Coliseum needed “spiffing up,” he affirmed it’s in need of a makeover.

“I’m hear to talk about the reuse of the Coliseum and our ability to put together a plan that we think will make a lot of sense and will work,” Ratner said. “In Brooklyn, we were able to put together a program and an arena that everybody feels is incredibly positive and helpful and our goal is to put together something here, which everybody will be proud of.”

News

Preparedness is the best remedy for Ebola

Winthrop University Hospital hosted a presentation on the current Ebola epidemic, at the Garden City Library, on Tuesday, Nov. 11. Sponsored by the village’s Property Owners’ Associations, John F. Collins, president and CEO of Winthrop University Hospital and Dr. Michael Ammazzalorso, Winthrop’s Chief Medical Officer provided an overview of the disease along with an update on Winthrop’s preparedness plan.

Dr. Ammazzalorso began his presentation heeding that despite the waning in the press, the disease is still with us. He provided both historical and current day perspectives regarding the epidemic, advising that Ebola is not a new disease. The medical community has been aware of the disease for at least 40 years. Originating in the Congo, Ebola is a zoonosis a disease which has its reservoir in animals and was known for small sporadic outbreaks associated with people who handled bats and rodents or those who consumed bush meat. The current outbreak originated in West Africa, specifically Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. He noted in Africa that more than 45,000 people have died from the disease.

Multiple options help village avoid problems

While parking around LIRR train stations is typically a challenge, even on a regular work day, it’s not necessarily the case for Garden City residents, who have five departure points to choose from. The stations—Nassau Boulevard, Garden City, Stewart Manor, Country Life Press and the south side of Merillon Avenue—provide a grand total of 866 spots. (See page 13 sidebar for lot-by-lot breakdown). It’s a luxury many municipalities don’t have, particularly during the holidays. Annual permits run $150 for residents and $300 for non-residents and while people who call Garden City can use any of these five stations, non-residents are restricted to using the 70 spots allocated for their use over at the Stewart Manor station.

LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena said that ridership between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by at least 10 percent; last year it was by 12 percent. Though the MTA is adding more trains to the schedule, that doesn’t ease the parking situation, which is operated not by the LIRR, but by individual municipalities in each town.


Sports

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes began the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave.

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes begin the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, please visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave. Space is limited so please register early.


Calendar

Sultans of String to play

Friday, November 21

Garden City Chamber Music Society Performance

Sunday, November 23

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, November 24



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com