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Community leaders push for Hub answers

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The $1.5 billion plan to create a live-work-play environment on the 72 acres surrounding the Nassau Hub is moving forward, but many community leaders in the surrounding area have had questions regarding the development.

To alleviate their worries, Eric Alexander, the director of Vision Long Island, and the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce hosted an intimate meeting on Jan. 15 at the Leon J. Campo Salisbury Center. Elected officials and representatives of developers Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment Global and RXR Realty were on hand to answer questions from community leaders.

In addition to East Meadow, communities represented included Westbury, Uniondale, Hempstead, Garden City and Carle Place.

The meeting began with a quote from County Executive Laura Curran that was project at the start of a slideshow about the development. “Never before have the stars been aligned,” the quote read. “This project epitomizes my vision for a real, live-work-play at the Hub and will transform the landscape of Nassau County.”

The Nassau County Legislature approved the Development Plan Agreement and lease amendment on Dec. 17 and County Executive Laura Curran signed it on Jan. 7, granting the developers the authority to move forward.

In amending the 49-year-old lease on the 72-acre parcel surrounding Nassau Coliseum, the legislator’s 19-0 vote gave developers the permission to draft a site plan and lay out more details.

Conditions of the agreement are that the developers must enter a project labor agreement with local building trade councils, provide quarterly updates to the legislature and hold public meetings with more information about the Nassau Hub’s progress.

Another condition is that the developers must include in their plans a community benefits agreement that puts roughly $60-75 million into the community and receives input from a community advisory committee.

Representatives from both developers spoke and described the meeting as one of many at which they would appear to open the lines of communication between the surrounding communities and the players in the Hub plan.

However, some questions could not be answered yet until the development plan undergoes the State Environmental Quality Review Act process, explained Rich Regina, the counsel to the Town of Hempstead Board and former counsel of the Zoning Board.

Such concerns included the impact of the development on surrounding traffic, water consumption and property taxes. When it comes to property taxes, however, Alexander intervened and said that the development would most likely decrease the cost of living nearby and, Councilwoman Erin King-Sweeney added, “The goal here is to lower taxes.”

Also, the community benefits agreement has yet to be discussed in detail, said Evlyn Tsimis, the deputy county executive for economic development, speaking on behalf of Curran’s administration and its partnership with the developers.

When asked about its specifics by Norma Gonsalves, of East Meadow, she said that they would be taking a “monumental” and “highly unusual” approach that would include discussing the plan with residents in a “very collaborative fashion.”

Frank Camarano said that, in hosting the event with Alexander, he hoped to debunk any myths that had been floating around on social media about the project and include community leaders in the official dialogue. “I think we were very successful in doing that tonight,” he said, after the meeting.

“The [representatives] of the Town of Hempstead and developers were really here tonight to meet their neighbors,” Alexander said. “Now everybody’s working with the same information and could raise any concerns they have.”