Lighthouse Project's scoping sessions seemed to go well. Unfortunately, yours truly could not make these sessions. However, with contacts in the Town of Hempstead and those who are in the know, I've been given a unique eagle eye view of the process thus far. And today I am going to share that by giving you Nick Giglia's observations from both Lighthouse scoping meetings. Nick is one of the petition starters which Eklund was kind enough to plug back on Saturday and is a member of the Long Island Lighthouse Political & Economic Development Alliance at www.LILighthouse.com
But before we delve into Nick's fine work, another scoping session is going on presently. In Toronto, top draft picks are being scrutinized by scouts and GMs of the NHL at the combine.
is being observed by quite a few. Makes one wonder if he will even be available at pick #5. Unlike the infamous Alexei Cherepanov drop of last year which had the Rangers snatch him up, Filatov is expected to go quickly. Even the Rangers, who has two of his linemates in the organization is rumored to be considering moving up for him. Filatov is higher regarded than Cherp, with no knocks on his effort or character. And despite the lack of a transfer agreement, he seems hellbent on playing in the NHL. Filatov seems to be the top desired pick in the 5th spot by Isles fans, followed by our next subject . . .
n, a fellow NYer, is impressing everyone. Physically, he and forward Boston U's Center, Colin Wilson
have impressed with their workouts. Bogosian and Drew Doughty seem to be the top two dmen likely taken right off the bat. Bogosian's stock has risen even before these combines. I can't see either below #4. This leaves the top two choices by Isles fans not likely to be there at choice #5 (besides Stamkos, of course, who is a foregone conclusion that Tampa will take at #1).
So, who will the Isles take? Well that is the million dollar question.
They seem to be talking quite a bit to another Zach. Zach Boychuk
, who is a center. Boychuk is projected as a 10 to 12th pick. He's a smallish forward, at 5 foot 9 and about a 180 or so. But he's considered a highly skilled and hard working forward, and only 18 years old (Think Martin St. Louis or at worst, a young Mike Comrie). Could we see the Isles drop backwards via trade or stand pat to take someone like Boychuk? If so, does this team have deeper dmen targeting like Luca Sbisa, Boychuk's WHL teammate, who is under the radar compared to the Alex Pietrangelo's
and Luke Schenn's
that most fans and experts have been talking about. Sbisa might be available in the later first round or early 2nd, depending.
Or is all the talk just the Isles doing their due diligence and merely a large part of their contingency plans? Who is to say. But Boychuk has been talking to the Isles as much as Toronto and Vancouver. So, let the capitulation and projections turn. Who knows what's going to happen, but the draft is coming in only a few weeks. Strap yourself in, it could get quite interesting.
More on draft options, opinions and debate soon.
And without further ado, Nick's take on the Lighthouse Project Scoping Sessions
AND . . . Make sure to sign the petition: www.lighthousepetition.com
BD, as promised, here are my impressions of the two scoping sessions this past week at the Town of Hempstead:
On a rainy Thursday morning and an even more rainy Tuesday evening, the Town of Hempstead held the two scoping sessions to help further the case for the Lighthouse. Though many speakers did not understand this, it was not the time for public comments. This was an opportunity for the public to suggest additional fields of study to be included in the Environmental Impact Report that must be completed as part of the New York State SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process.
Each scoping session began with presentations from the Lighthouse Project, including Charles Wang and Scott Rechler. It closed with the video montage and the Lighthouse jingle that's slowly growing on me despite being admittedly cheesy. After a quick discussion on the format of the meeting, it was time for the public to speak.
Amazingly to me, the comments were overwhelmingly in favor of the Lighthouse. I and the others in my group were very worried because we knew that this was the first chance for organized opposition to emerge from the usual NIMBY groups that seem to disrupt everything on Long Island. We heard many things about affordable housing, with some demanding it be on-site and others saying it could be off-site. We also heard a lot from and about people like me, younger residents who do not see an economic future on Long Island and need something, anything, to keep us in this area, with both jobs and a place to live. There was also a good representation of Islander fans at both hearings, with people imploring the Town of Hempstead to not allow our Islanders to go the way of the Brooklyn Dodgers.
We did have a few very loud individuals speaking against the project, including a gentleman from Garden City who ranted about transportation, a husband-and-wife environmentalist team that did not want the project to jeopardize their desired bike trail on the Meadowbrook Parkway from Hempstead Turnpike to the beach, and an older man from Inwood who didn't really seem to be in favor of anything. Some people voiced concerns, but most seemed to understand this project has been approved and is merely in the scoping phase. The momentum is there, and we are moving forward.
My favorite moment of the event was when the consultant running the hearings on Tuesday looked at the paper and announced, in a confused tone "Um...Mike, BAW-SSEY?" A murmur went through the crowd as the great Mike Bossy strode to the microphone from the back of the room. The board looked confused as people started cheering and chanting "BOS-SY! BOS-SY!" Bossy spoke about how much the arena and the franchise mean to him, and how he hopes this project will make future players view the franchise with the same love he has for it. It was a wonderful moment.
More than anything else, the hearings held an air of inevitability...people realize and understand that this thing will exist. Dave Denenberg of the Nassau Legislature made an appearance on Tuesday evening, and we spoke briefly (he remembered me from my attendance at the County-level hearings in 2006). Denenberg told me he thinks the environmental review process will take a year to a year and a half, which may jeopardize the stated goal of groundbreaking in July of 2009. However, if they keep it on the low end of that estimate, we could have groundbreaking next off-season and be on our way.
Wang and Rechler have, in every meeting I've attended, received plaudits for engaging the community throughout this process. The total project share that will be publicly paid for is 3.5%, and that comes from a State grant to improve sewage lines in the area. According to a study by famous sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, the average public share of funding for new sports facilities averages around 75%. We're getting a pretty good deal here, all told.
I hope we, as Islander fans, can stand together and remember that the Lighthouse is the idea being considered, the Lighthouse is going forward, and the Lighthouse might be our last best chance. It really amazes me that Hockeybuzz and the Newsday Islanders blog have more negative comments about the Lighthouse than I heard at the Town of Hempstead this past week, and Islander fans need to understand that this project is the best way to support the team and guarantee its long-term viability.
I hope everyone can go to www.lighthousepetition.com and sign our petition to show their support for this project (please use full names, we promise not to use them for anything except delivery to the Town of Hempstead). Thanks, and we hope to meet you at the Lighthouse.