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Oyster Bay adopts ‘open’ process to pick concessionaires

Oyster Bay Town Hall is shown in this

Oyster Bay Town Hall is shown in this photo taken on Sunday, March 27, 2016. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

More than a dozen companies plan to show the Oyster Bay Town Board and the public their visions for operating the town’s catering hall and beach concessions over two days beginning Tuesday.

The town is beginning a new chapter in its recently troubled history of food and beverage services at town facilities by signing the new longterm agreements. Those contracts would replace those the town had with companies founded by indicted restauranteur Harendra Singh.

The public process to select new companies is a departure from what the town had originally contemplated in January and February, when it issued four requests for proposals to operate the concessions.

Instead of the town board voting on recommendations made by a panel, more than 20 proposals will be made during public work sessions and then voted on by the board, according to town officials.

“We’re doing this open and transparent — the most transparent that it’s ever been done before in the town of Oyster Bay,” Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in an interview.

Companies have submitted proposals that include how much they will pay the town every month to operate the facilities, their marketing strategies and capital improvements to be made.

Butch Yamali, president and chief executive of Freeport-based The Dover Group, which is among the bidders, said he applauded the town for the public process.

“I applaud them for trying to do this the right way,” Yamali said. “They’re really trying to make it fair.”

Michael Scollan, vice president of operations for Sayville-based Lovin’ Oven, which is also bidding, said they were “going with the flow of the process.”

“We have no problem with putting our presentation out there,” Scollan said. “We’re very proud of the work we’ve done.”

The draft agreements contain several differences from those that were awarded to Singh’s companies — agreements that were terminated last year. Oyster Bay has been sued by three creditors to Singh seeking to collect more than $17 million in disputed loan guarantees allegedly extended by the town.

The draft agreements state that “under no circumstances shall the town be liable or responsible for any indebtedness incurred by the concessionaire.”

Another difference is that the town has changed the way it deals with capital improvements. The concession agreements include termination payments to make the company whole for its investment if the town cancels the contract early without cause.

The new agreements would require the concessionaire to go through the same permitting and approval process as private property owners do for construction projects. They also require that independent reviews of the cost and date of completion for construction work be accepted by the town parks department.

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