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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

Vastra boutique finds a niche

in hand-embroidered dresses

Who says a bride has to wear white on her wedding day? For South Asian brides, no color is off limits including brilliant reds, blues and golds. For the past 17 years, Vastra in Hicksville has been helping brides from New York and across the country find the perfect dress for their special day.

There’s no lack of Indian sari boutiques in Hicksville but according to Marketing Director Prachi Jain, what sets Vastra apart from the others is its emphasis on one of a kind, hand-embroidered Indian dresses.

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



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