The Oyster Bay Town Board approved at its meeting Tuesday an emergency, three-month contract to operate the Woodlands catering hall as it prepares a long-term concession request for proposals.
The board approved Lessing’s Hospitality of Great River from among six companies that responded to an RFP sent out last week.
The selection was made after a rare public deliberation in which board members rejected the preference of Town Supervisor John Venditto and considered the merits of four companies.
Lessing’s Hospitality proposed to pay the town $35,000 per month to operate the facility, which is at the town’s golf course in Syosset. That’s 461.6 percent more than the $6,232 the town would have been getting from the former concessionaire, S.R.B. Convention & Catering Corp. under a revised agreement proposed to the board in late May. The town canceled the former concessionaire’s agreement last week and the board ratified that termination Tuesday.
Councilman Joseph Pinto started the deliberations by saying that since a selection committee had said all the applicants were capable of doing the work “I’m looking at the highest dollar we can get for it.” Pinto said Lessing’s Hospitality’s bid “far exceeded” the others.
The other bids were not made public on Tuesday.
Venditto said he preferred Scotto Brothers Inc., a Woodbury-based catering and restaurant company that operated the Woodlands for several days since the town notified the former concessionaire that they were being terminated. Venditto said he thought their bid was better “if we’re serious about the long haul.”
But Jonathan Sinnreich of Sinnreich Kosakoff & Messina LLP, Oyster Bay’s outside attorney who handled the RFP process, told Venditto “you really can’t be considering the long haul here. Because the long haul is going to have to be completely competitive.”
The former concessionaire, a company formed by indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh, had been awarded its contract in 1998 under an emergency RFP and had subsequently been extended until 2070.
The termination may trigger payment to S.R.B. Convention & Catering under a 2010 amendment to the contract.
“The termination payment, if any, would be at most $2 million,” said the town’s outside legal counsel, Jonathan Pickhardt of Manhattan-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. “But there has been no termination payment as yet requested and the town expects that it may have other legal defenses to the payment of any termination fee.”
Pickhardt declined to elaborate on the defenses.