UNIONDALE - Nassau County is granting more than $4 million in tax breaks for the developer chosen for the Nassau Coliseum project, and some local leaders say the move won't benefit the surrounding community.
Nassau's Industrial Development Agency unanimously approved nearly $4.5 million in breaks for developer Bruce Ratner and his firm, Forest City Ratner Companies, in the aging arena's overhaul. The tax exemptions will cover equipment, construction materials and furnishings.
Area residents say Ratner shouldn't get any tax breaks unless he agrees to make improvements to the community. The Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition has been calling on Ratner to pledge $10 million for the expansion of a local community center, the demolition of zombie homes and beautification projects.
"Mr. Ratner has done it with the Atlantic Yards project and the Barclays Center," says Greg Maney, a member of the coalition. "So, if it's good enough for Downtown Brooklyn, why isn't it good enough for Nassau County?"
Ratner's attorney declined requests for comment.
Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams sides with the residents.
"The Forest City Group also received refinancing or restructuring so that they are able to use different mechanisms to refinance their deal," Abrahams says. "Now, on top of it they're getting tax breaks from the IDA. It seems like they're getting a lot of breaks, but they're not giving anyone in the community a break."
Mike Miller of East Meadow says it should be a process of give and take.
"You give funds to the developer, and yes you give tax breaks, but you have to provide some local infrastructure like a community center," Miller says.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano issued a statement saying the county is one step closer to turning the former home of the New York Islanders into "a world-class arena for residents' enjoyment for generations to come."
Work is expected to begin next month.