UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano appealed for new proposals for the Nassau Coliseum’s site following Monday’s rejection by voters, who refused to foot the $400 million renovation bill.
Mangano said he will seek new ideas and bids from New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and any other private developer.
“We have been seeking privately financed proposals since I took office and certainly before that. None have proved to be successful,” Mangano said at a news conference Tuesday.
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One resident who spoke with 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera wondered aloud whether any developer would be able to get a plan approved.
“What are they going to put there — a flea market? There’s too much red ink in everything, so by the time you finish holding up everything, it’s gone already,” he said.
Voters roundly reject the proposal that would’ve funded a replacement for the 39-year-old Coliseum, the second oldest arena in the NHL. The measure was defeated 57-43 percent. Voter turnout was characterized as being surprisingly low.
Wang had said that without a new arena, he’d take the team elsewhere when their lease at the Coliseum expires in 2015.
The Coliseum is the smallest NHL arena in the league – that is, until the Thrashers move to Winnipeg and become the Jets this season.
“I’m disappointed. I’m heartbroken,” Wang said Monday night following the defeat of the measure. “I’m not gonna comment on any specific next steps. We are committed to the Nassau Coliseum until 2015 and like we said all along we will honor our lease. We now have a season to concentrate on.”
“This is garbage,” said Islanders fan Tom LoFaso of Levittown. “To me, this was a no-brainer to vote yes. It would generate money for the county which was already in debt.”
“Long Island blew it again,” Islanders fan Lou Martini said.
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Mangano, a staunch proponent of the initiative, said the defeat doesn’t mean the game’s over.
“It is not an ending. It is a beginning,” Mangano said. “We will find a new path, a path that brings people together, a path that solves the problems that blockades the redeveloping of this property.”
“Maybe people don’t care about the hockey, that’s fine with us, but care about your community, don’t leave it behind, that’s kind of what’s happening here,” a fan from Levittown said.
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The measure voters rejected would’ve raised property taxes in the area. Opponents didn’t see why they should pay for it, proponents said the increased tax revenue and additional jobs the new sports complex would’ve created would offset the expense.
“I don’t want to pay for it. Not just for me…my kids and grandkids are going to have to pay this bill,” Ed Marczewski, a Nassau County voter, said.
Some Democrats have suggested that the county sell the arena to Wang and leave the rest of the land for development.
Should the idea of a new Coliseum be revisited? Sound off in our comments section.