After Open Process, Concessions Awarded

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TOB decides on companies to run its golf course and beaches

Lessings Hospitality won the bid to operate the Woodlands catering hall in Woodbury. (Photo Source: Facebook)

The Town of Oyster Bay hoped to erase the lingering breath of corruption associated with federally indicted concessionaire Harendra Singh last week. On April 5, after two days of public presentations, comments from residents and deliberations—all live-streamed—the Oyster Bay Town Board chose three concessionaires to run its golf course and two beaches for the upcoming season.

Singh began his association with the town in 1998, obtaining an emergency concession to operate at the Honorable Joseph Colby Golf Course in Woodbury, and later added the beach facilities. Singh’s contracts with the town were terminated last year after his October 2015 indictment in federal court, including charges that he had bribed a deputy town attorney to obtain up to $20 million in municipal loan guarantees. When Singh defaulted on two of the loans, the holder sued the town for payment. The lawsuit is still being litigated.

The town was promised about $1 million in base rents from the concessions it awarded last week, compared to what the contracts with Singh had promised for 2017—a shade under $200,000.

Last Wednesday, before the second round of presentations by the dozen-odd companies bidding for the contracts, Supervisor Joseph Saladino continued to tout his promise of “a new era in ethics and the highest transparency,” noting the presentations were, to his knowledge, unprecedented among municipalities.

“This process of request for proposals (RFP) follows the letter of the law,” Saladino stated. “But we wanted to do so much more to provide additional transparency. The purpose of these sessions is to open the doors of government to everyone and to ensure that we are operating in complete sunlight.”

Santino replaced former longtime Supervisor John Venditto, who stepped down Jan. 4 to prepare his defense against a federal indictment arising from his association with Singh.
Great River-based Lessing’s Hospitality won the bid to operate Woodlands, a catering hall at the golf course. The company had been running the facility on an emergency basis since last October and offered a yearly payment of at least $510,000, with more promised if revenues topped $6 million. In addition, it is obligated to a yearly rental increase of 3 percent over the life of the contract.

Healthy Choice/Mangia Fresco of Long Island City bid for both Tappen and Tobay beaches, and was awarded the former with a base rent of $85,000 the first year and annual increases of 3 percent thereafter. Tappen, a beach on the north shore fronting North Hempstead Harbor, contains one restaurant. Healthy Choice touted its long experience as a large venue operator, including running a concession at the Intrepid Museum and being the exclusive food provider to the annual Fleet Week in New York Harbor.

Carlyle Catering of Plainview won the bid for the more extensive operations at Tobay beach, fronting the Atlantic Ocean on the south shore and lying between Jones Beach and Gilgo Beach on Jones Beach island.

The Tobay Beach RFP had originally split the concessions between the two permanent restaurants and a series of concession stands, including the marina. Steve Carl of Carlyle Catering noted that having two different operators in close proximity might cause conflicts and confusion. “It behooves everyone to put the concessions together,” he argued, and the board listened and awarded his company the contract to operate the two restaurants, five concession stands and a spray park concession. Carlyle will pay $450,000 in 2017 to operate the facilities.

“The town will get [that amount] regardless of the season,” Carl promised. “If we had a bad year, you’d still get that money.”

He added, “We have the staff, we have the people, we have the ability, we have the money, we have the vision and we have the know-how to be able to make this [work], so that everyone will be happy.”

To every presenter, Saladino asked a series of questions, most pointedly, “Have you, or anyone in your organization, had any association with the previous concessionaire?”
The spirit of Singh, however unwelcome, still hung over the proceedings.

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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