Suozzi Pitches Suburban ‘Trailblazer’ Plan

Tom Suozzi
Former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi

Proposals to redevelop Nassau Coliseum don’t take full advantage of Hempstead town zoning, said ex-Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who’s running for his old job and blamed Ed Mangano, who unseated him.

Suozzi made the statement while unveiling his five-point plan for “New Suburbia Trailblazers,” a proposal for partly grant-funded, walk-able downtown communities that would attract high-tech jobs and young professionals—starting with The Hub, as the central Nassau area where the arena sits is known.

“A lot of the small villages and the towns don’t necessarily have the resources to do this on their own,” said Suozzi. “I believe the county can play a role in helping them to develop these long-term visions to be a catalyst to encourage this type of development.”

Four sets of developers have proposed either renovating or rebuilding the aging Uniondale coliseum. Mangano is expected to decide the winning idea this month.

The Republican county executive will face either his predecessor, Suozzi, or the former county exec’s Democratic primary challenger, Roslyn school board member Adam Haber, in the November elections.

“Tom focused more on hiking property taxes than on developing realistic plans for redeveloping the coliseum property,” Brian Nevin, a Mangano spokesman, said. “Ed Mangano’s economic development plan already includes smart growth initiatives such as walkways, bike routes and rapid transit. Tom Suozzi had eight years to make something happen and failed to do so.”

During the prior Suozzi administration, Islanders owner Charles Wang had proposed rebuilding the coliseum as a part of a multi-billion-dollar mixed-use development known as The Lighthouse that would have included housing, business and entertainment space before the plan died.

Prior to that plan fizzling, Hempstead town officials passed new zoning for a scaled-down version of the development. Suozzi stated that Mangano’s request for proposals failed to encourage the current applicants to use that zoning to include designs with connectivity or “the creation of a significant new place.”

Suozzi cited research showing that Suffolk County has seen $1.6 billion in sales tax revenue, four times as much retail, industrial and office growth than Nassau since 2002. Nassau also has 30 percent fewer residents between the ages of 25 and 34 since 1990, he said.

To counteract those trends, Suozzi said that, if elected, his administration would provide comprehensive, targeted assistance to towns, cities and villages selected as “trailblazers” that propose zoning that facilitate desirable downtowns.

“Towns and villages will be asked to submit their ideas as to what type of development they want to encourage in their downtowns in the future” he said. Municipalities would enter their ideas into a competition, with 10 communities being selected through 2017.

Up to $10 million in incentives are available for such initiatives through the federal government, New York State and the county Industrial Development Agency, Suozzi said.

“Things like Wi-Fi, bicycle friendly-environments and green technology [can] encourage young college graduates and other members of the creative class to move into our trailblazer communities,” said Suozzi. “We’re looking to grow because we need young people. Without young people, Long Island will not survive.”