Some longtime coffee truck vendors at Long Island Rail Road stations face losing their spots after not winning in a new competitive bidding process completed last month.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened 11 LIRR sites to bidding to help maximize the value of its real estate holdings, agency officials said.
The MTA would set 10-year agreements with the winning LIRR station truck concessionaires paying market-level rents. At some locations, rent has not increased since the 1970s.
The change will boost the agency's 10-year income at the sites from $208,440 to $1,046,258, MTA officials said. The locations up for bid are Wantagh, Seaford, Ronkonkoma, Amityville, Kings Park, Bellmore, Massapequa, Lindenhurst, Huntington and Port Washington, where there are existing concessionaires, and Bay Shore.
Incumbent concessionaires won bids at three of the 11 locations, MTA spokesman Salvatore Arena said without identifying the sites. No dates have been set for when the new vendors take over the other locations, he said.
"The MTA has an obligation to the public it serves to realize the full and fair value of its marketable assets," LIRR president Helena Williams said in a statement.
The MTA's Finance Committee meets Monday to complete its review of the concessionaire bids before passing their selections to the full agency board.
Customers and local politicians protested the displacing of 32-year Wantagh vendor Dennis Timpanaro, who parks his red and silver coffee truck by the escalator of that station for four hours on weekday mornings.
"He's been there so long that they should allow him to be grandfathered in or let him match the bid," said Seaford resident Sean Roberts, 48, who started a letter-writing campaign and said he has been a customer of Timpanaro for 20 years.
Timpanaro's bid of $4,585 per year was the lowest of three for the Wantagh station. The highest bidder, Freeport-based Gonias Catering, was 70 percent higher -- $7,800 a year. Timpanaro, of Islip Terrace, has been working on a month-to-month agreement and paid $1,680 to the LIRR in 2011.
"It was a big shock," said Timpanaro, 57, adding that 75 percent of his income comes from sales at the Wantagh station. "I didn't think I would have to leave here because I was here so long."
Coffee truck vendor Michael Lios, 46, of Bellmore, whose family has been working at the Seaford train station for 40 years, said he proposed a near-tripling of his rent to $375 a month but was outbid. His Seaford location accounts for almost half of his income, he said.
The MTA and LIRR also are considering allowing new coffee truck locations at stations that don't have them. It would make them available on a test basis to those who lost their sites to higher bidders, Arena said.
"We understand there may be some disappointment on the part of the coffee concessionaires who were outbid . . . and that's why we are trying to give them another chance to operate under pilot programs in other locations," MTA director of real estate Jeffrey B. Rosen said in a statement.
The MTA expects to invite vendors who did not win renewals to submit bids to operate at the new locations for 14 months.
"I guess I'll consider it, but I don't want to leave Wantagh," Timpanaro said. "The people love me here."
The family of Jimmy Dovin, 48, of Blue Point, has been at the same Huntington Station spot full-time since 1958. Dovin and his wife and business partner, Laury, 48, bid $154,580 for the 10-year contract, about $1,288 a month. The winning bid, from Mohammed Shah, was $228,069, about $1,900 a month. The Dovins' current rent: $550 a month.
"How could they do that to us?" said Dovin, a father of four children. "I wouldn't do that to anybody."
Joseph Rowley, 66, of Ronkonkoma, has been at the Port Washington station for 15 years. Rowley bid $97,443 ($812 a month) for the 10-year contract. The winning bid, also from Shah, was $134,046, or $1,117 a month. Rowley's current rent: $170 a month.
"All they are doing is allowing someone else to steal your business that you have worked for over the years," said Rowley, who is looking into getting a spot in the nearby North Hempstead Town parking lot. "This just leaves a bad taste in my mouth."