By Jamie Jensen
It is mid-April and the Rye Town Park Commission has not yet signed a lease agreement for the restaurant located next to Oakland Beach. The Ocean Grille, which replaced Seaside Johnnies for the 2017 season, will not be returning.
Last year, the town of Rye received legislative approval from Governor Cuomo to negotiate a food service agreement that can last up to 20 years. For the most part, negotiations have been conducted between the yet to be named food service company, Port Chester resident and restaurant steering committee member Daniel Tartaglia, and Town Supervisor Gary Zuckerman. As of March 20, the Commissioners have only discussed the contract in closed session. Mayor Cohn and Councilwoman Emily Hurd have only recently been engaged in face to face discussions. The park restaurant typically brings about $90,000-$100,000 in revenue to park operations. With a likely opening mid-summer, it seems the revenue loss for this year may be preferable to a potentially costly contract in future years.
Other Rye Town Park delays have also raised questions among residents. Last month, the 2018 budget vote was tabled. Repairs for the seawall damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 have not yet gone out to bid. Repairs to the bathhouse roof have been tentatively scheduled for this fall.
Despite budget unknowns, community members have planned programs and set dates for the summer concert series, an outdoor movie, a magic show, volleyball league, and the Lawn Chair Theatre presentation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” in July. Of the proposed annual operating budget of 1.4 million, only $10,000 is slated for park programming, and it is projected that $7,800 will need to be raised through sponsorship.
Commission meetings are open to the public and held the third Tuesday of every month. The next meeting is scheduled for April 17, 6 p.m. at the Village of Rye Brook administration building, 938 King Street.
Residents are encouraged to attend the annual Rye Town Park Community Conversation, Saturday, May 5at 10 under the Park Pavilion.