Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced on March 7 the members of the Nassau Hub Community Benefits Advisory Committee, a group of 15 elected officials and business and civic leaders who will determine the fate of a $1.5 billion plan to create a live-work-play environment on the 72 acres surrounding Nassau Coliseum.
The committee’s two local members are County Legislator Thomas McKevitt, a Republican from East Meadow, and Walter Skinner, a past president of the East Meadow Chamber of Commerce.
The County Legislature approved the Hub’s Development Plan Agreement and lease amendment on Dec. 17, and Curran signed it on Jan. 7, granting developers Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and RXR Realty the authority to move forward.
One of the conditions of the agreement is that the developers must include in their plans a community-benefits agreement to funnel $60 million to $75 million into the community. Committee members will give the developers direct input on the agreement before it is finalized.
“I live, work and play here, so whatever happens here is important to me,” said Skinner, who lives roughly a half-mile from the Hub site. He is also the owner and president of the Skinner Agency, which sells Allstate Insurance. An East Meadow resident for roughly 56 years, Skinner has held many community leadership positions, including the chamber presidency and East Meadow Board of Education vice president and trustee. He is also involved in the Knights of Columbus Westbury Council 1012, East Meadow Kiwanis and the East Meadow Independent Order of the Odd Fellows.
Skinner has seen other plans and projects focused on development of the Hub gain and lose traction, and said he wanted to help make sure that, whatever the outcome, East Meadow would “get its fair share.”
The co-chairs of the committee are Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, a Democrat from Hempstead, and Kevin Law, the president and chief executive officer of the Long Island Association. Law has been pushing for the Hub’s development for the past decade, and Goosby has been a vocal critic of plans for the site that did not benefit the surrounding Uniondale community.
The committee was created to ensure that surrounding communities each get a piece of the pie, Skinner said. The Hub is in Uniondale, but he said, “When you go to the Coliseum, where do you go to dinner?” His answer was Borrelli’s Italian Restaurant or the Greene Turtle, both East Meadow restaurants that draw a crowd during popular events at the Coliseum.
“Investing in the Hub means investing in our local communities,” Curran said after announcing the members of the committee. “It is vital that our residents reap tangible benefits from this game-changing project that transforms the acres of pavement surrounding the Nassau Coliseum.”
Scott Rechler, chairman and chief executive officer of RXR Realty, has said more than once, in referring to his plans for the Hub, that his company is most successful when “the communities where we operate are also successful.”
When the committee was announced, Rechler explained that RXR was seeking a symbiotic relationship with those communities, in which it would provide financial benefits, source local labor, integrate nearby businesses, incorporate youth programs, provide monetary incentives to the Uniondale School District, create accessible transportation to and from the Hub and prioritize the environment and sustainable resources in the project’s construction.
But it will be some time before the community sees any concrete plans or details. “It’s all a concept right now,” Skinner said. “Nobody knows what they’re building. Nobody knows anything yet. I see it as a long way out.”