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Freeport event called off after complaints

Standing near the Catalina Marina and Sea Breeze

Standing near the Catalina Marina and Sea Breeze park sign are Freeport residents Kelly Martinez and her children Jesse, 9, and Isabella, 5. An event that was recently canceled -- after residents complained -- has spurred questions about the village's decision to privatize the waterfront space. (Aug. 2, 2012) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

A waterfront party -- canceled at Sea Breeze Park in Freeport after residents complained -- has spurred questions about the village's decision to privatize the waterfront space.

Village officials tapped Catalina Management, a local firm, to manage the 3-acre Sea Breeze Park in June. Freeport officials said they had hoped the private operator would get more use out of a marina on the property, which had sat mostly dormant since opening about five years ago.

Catalina has mostly used the facility to hold family-oriented daytime events, said nearby residents.

But Catalina planned to allow a New York City entertainment group, VIP 500, to host a 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. party with disc jockeys and alcohol on July 29, according to a website for the event.

Dozens of residents complained, and Catalina canceled the event two days before it was scheduled, village officials said.

The incident has left residents with a feeling that Freeport has little control of the park, said Peggy Lester, a resident who had complained.

"They apparently are not communicating with the village when they are supposed to, when they have events in there," Lester said. "That's not a craft fair."

The village will make it clear to Catalina that nighttime parties were not what it envisioned when it gave the firm the keys to the park, said Freeport trustee William White. The village thought Catalina was clear that the park is a venue for "family-type recreation," White said.

"My two concerns were the size and where it was located," White said. "I would assume that they had to be aware that the intent of the board of trustees was not to hold these kind of events."

Attempts to reach Catalina's owner, Michael Kaminsky of Patchogue, and VIP 500 were not successful. The park is off Woodcleft Avenue at the end of Freeport's famed Nautical Mile row of bars, restaurants and seafood markets.

Catalina is leasing the park for $100,000 per year for seven years, with a possibility of renewing for $150,000 per year for seven more years and then $175,000 for an additional seven years.

VIP 500's website states that the event "has been postponed until further notice due to circumstances beyond our control" and that the village was "misinformed of the vision and quality of what VIP 500 brings." It promises a refund of the $125 tickets.

Kelley Martinez, another resident who had opposed VIP 500 party, said smaller-scale events at the park would be fine, as long as they would not disturb the surrounding residential area.

"While I would prefer not to have this kind of event going on, other events would be fine," Martinez said.

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