Jul 30, 2011

Arena: Why I Support The Yes Vote

AT: As anyone who reads the blog knows, I am not a Nassau County resident. I have lived in Suffolk County for my entire life except for my year at college last year where I lived in the Financial District in Manhattan. Next, I'm going to be living in Albany for school. I went from Coram, to Mt. Sinai, to Stony Brook and now I live in Port Jefferson. Long Island, and more specifically Suffolk, has been all I've known my entire life. While I certainly had a very difficult childhood, it would have been much more difficult if I had not been living in such a stable location. With low crime and getting an education at a fantastic high school (in terms of education at least), Long Island was probably the best place to grow up. My mom grew up in Dix Hills, my father in Port Jefferson. My heritage is here.

The Islanders hold a special place in my heart. As a child, I never really had too many passions. Hockey was the first one to really flare up. After my dad bought Islanders season tickets in the summer of 2001, I went to about 30 home games in the 2001-2002 season including all 3 home playoff games against Toronto. Chris Osgood quickly became my favorite player and I had finally found a major interest that has stayed with me and of which my passion has only grown. I was as big of a fan as you could get, and the Islanders remained a huge part of my life and being able to take in games with my father helped me deal with the difficulty of my childhood. The 45 minute drives to the Coliseum were relaxing and helped me bond with my father, talking about life, friends, girls, and everything of the like. Since my father worked, going to the games was really the only time I had to talk to him about things in my life that made me both happy and sad.

As I stated, I did not have many passions in my childhood. I had on and off depression until 2010, I was almost always overweight until I finally got the willpower to lose 60 pounds and have kept it off since, and I was generally an outcast in school. Watching the games in person and going to such an invigorating environment helped keep me stable and develop a major interest to keep me from going off the deep end. While I have turned my life around completely, I can not help but think at least part of that is due to the fact that I was able to take such a huge interest in something for the first time in my life. After all, what drives a human above all else more than his/her passion? Having a team that helped me identify with where I was growing up, one that allowed me to bond with my father and one that drove me into my first major interest was a major spark plug in my life.

While obviously not everyone will fall into the same situation I did, there are bound to be children out there who will. Children who are growing up in a time period that is, to say the least, unstable. Politically, militarily and economically. We can not and should not deprive them of the same experiences we were all lucky enough to enjoy and take in. These are memories that will last me a lifetime. Memories I hope and pray I will be able to share with my children if I choose to come back to Long Island after I'm done with my military career. 

We live in a black hole of suburbia. The Nassau Coliseum, even in its deteriorating state, always remained that one "big" location on Long Island. In my area specifically, the most notable location is the Smithhaven Mall. That says a lot about Long Island. We must not allow New York City to continue to swallow our tax dollars. Long Island is very unique, and it needs its own unique locations. Jones Beach and Montauk alone will not and should not cut it. We are more than that, and we need to show that to the legislature and NIFA. We need to grow, and the only way to grow is to invest. Just like the saying goes, you need to spend money to make money. Just like how Charles Wang was going to spend on the Lighthouse in order to make a profit. Just like how banks give out loans with interest to customers who want to start up a business.

If the Coliseum is gone, so many memories, so many good things... will be terminated. Gone. Revenue from the Coliseum will vanish, people will continue to leave the Island, the only professional sports team on Long Island that has brought joy, sadness and hope to tens of thousands of people over the years will be relocated. This is not just about the Islanders, and it really never has been. Obviously, we all want the team here for good, but the loss of the Coliseum is a loss of part of the heart and soul of Long Island.

That is why I am supporting the yes vote. I believe in investing in worthy projects, and I believe in this Island that turned me into the man I am today. The Lighthouse project would have been better, yes. We all agree. However, this is the last option for Long Island to keep an arena. You might not agree with the entire premise of it, but almost everyone agrees keeping an arena is quintessential to keeping Long Island great and from keeping Long Island from falling off the edge economically. It's time to suck up some pride and do what's best for the community. With that, I plead all Nassau residents - invest in your community. Allow my children, your children and the children of others to share the memories that I and others were able to enjoy. Vote "YES" on August 1st, 2011.

- Alex Tessler

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