MINEOLA, NY (CBSNewYork) – The Nassau Legislature approved a voter referendum Tuesday to build a new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The voter referendum bill for the Coliseum bond issue passed by a vote of 11-7 and was quickly signed into law by County Executive Edward Mangano, reports CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan.
"This bill is not just for the Islanders, it's for Long Islanders," Mangano said.
The bill authorizes an Aug. 1 vote, allowing residents to decide whether to borrow $400 million for a new hockey arena. Approval would clear the way for the NHL's Islanders to remain on Long Island until at least 2045.
1010 WINS' Mona Rivera reports: Nassau Legislature Approves Coliseum Bond Issue
Before the vote Tuesday, jobless Long Islanders rallied along Hempstead Turnpike, not far from the Coliseum they are desperate to have a part of rebuilding. Contractors expect the project could create 1,000 new jobs.
The 77-acre plot would also be home to a new minor league ball field and entertainment hub and keep Islanders owner Charles Wang from potentially moving Long Island's only professional sports team.
"I believe this day will go down in history as a first step and hopefully this is the catalyst that will get us going again," Wang said.
WCBS 880's Sophia Hall: The Project Would Cost The Average County Homeowner An Additional $50 A Year
Finance committee member, Democrat Wayne Wink, said he is not against letting voters weigh-in but said "it's the cost, it's the matter and it's the timing" that is questionable.
"The devil is in the details and the devil has not knocked on the door yet," said Wink.
Some Nassau County residents are skeptical about the plan to borrow $400 million from taxpayers.
"From the taxpayers? No, I think we've been pushed to the limit," said Kathy Gianpapa.
"To go out and borrow $400 million now I think is very unwise," said Rase Denny.
Mangano said replacing the nearly 40-year-old arena will help reinvigorate the local economy.
Even if voters approve the Coliseum bond issue it still faces numerous hurdles and the vote is non-binding.
The special referendum in August could cost $2 million. The Islanders' owner said he'll pay for the election if voters approve the plan.
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