UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – As Nassau County voters get ready to head to the polls on Monday to vote for or against the proposed $400 million Coliseum renovation project, both proponents and opponents are jockeying to win over public sentiment.
The Association for a Better Long Island hopes that voters will say “no way.” Desmond Ryan, of the organization, said that if the proposal is approved it “would guarantee real property tax increases for the next thirty years and all of this because of a hockey team.”
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However, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano cautioned against a “no” vote for his proposal. With the possibility that the Islanders could move elsewhere if the renovation isn’t approved, he told 1010 WINS Thursday that such a scenario would hurt the county’s revenue and could lead to higher taxes as a result.
“We’ve allowed companies like Canon to remove out of our borders, OSI [Pharmaceuticals] to move out of this county. We lost those jobs and those dollars that were spent here. The Jets practicing here — that was an economic hit to our county when they left us,” Mangano said.
Mangano also argued that the deal has safeguards against the risk of the county getting stuck paying the full bill.
“The deal recognizes the fact that the residents will receive eleven and a half percent of all the economic activity that goes on in that building, exclusive of television rights. So you sell a pretzel, eleven and a half percent comes back to the county. You sell a ticket, eleven and a half percent comes back to the county,” Mangano said.
Ryan said he just cannot comprehend why the public should pay to renovate the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to help the hockey team owned by billionaire Charles Wang.
“The Islanders want a new building, they deserve a new building, the taxpayers should not be the ones who should be forced to pay for it,” Ryan said.
The Islanders believe the proposal, which includes a new arena to be constructed at the Nassau Coliseum site as well as a minor league ballpark, will generate 4,500 jobs and $403 million in profit for tax relief for Nassau County residents.
If the plan is voted down, however, many expect the Islanders to move. Ryan, however, is skeptical.
“I think if the Islanders want a stadium, then the Islanders should pay for it,” Ryan said. “If the Islanders want to leave the biggest media capital of the planet, then so be it. But I think it is highly unlikely.”
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