A controversial Request for Proposal to sell alcohol at a visitors center of a state park in Jamesport has been withdrawn after North Fork officials objected to the sales, state and local officials confirmed Tuesday.
According to officials at the office of State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), the New York State Parks Department withdrew its RFP at Hallock State Park Preserve, a 225-acre state park and nature preserve in Riverhead and Southold towns, following a discussion with LaValle.
A news conference had been scheduled for Wednesday at the park, where Riverhead and Southold town officials were to meet to publicly oppose the proposal.
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said pulling the proposal was “a total victory for the town of Riverhead.”
“It seems to me that when the residents of eastern Long Island and officials from the State of New York advocated to purchase this property to develop a park, they saw it as an opportunity to promote outdoor recreational activities for people of all ages to enjoy,” Walter said. “How we landed here isn’t clear, but I am grateful that our concerns did not fall upon deaf ears.”
Under the “Issues Critical to the RFP” section of the department’s proposal request, language in the third point read “sale of alcoholic beverages produced in New York is expected.” The department stated in the section that while “all proposals were encouraged,” it also preferred any potential licensed vendor to be organized and licensed by the New York State Liquor Authority “to operate as a branch office of a farm winery, brewery, or cider mill, so that the Licensed Premises may offer sales of food, coffee, and alcohol on and off-premises.”
LaValle said Tuesday in a statement that he reached out to the state Office of Parks and Recreation to express that local officials “are 100 percent against alcohol being sold at a family park.”
State parks and recreation officials will meet next month with LaValle and North Fork officials to discuss plans for the park educational center moving forward.
Randy Simons, the public information officer for the department, said Tuesday in a statement that the RFP was withdrawn.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said at the end of a town board’s work session Tuesday that he had just received word of the decision and said later that he was “pleased” with it.
“As it is a state park, it should still include a local vision,” Russell said. “I look forward to our meeting where we can shape the proposal to capture that vision.”
Earlier in the work session, Russell and other town board members expressed their displeasure with the idea of alcohol being sold at the park.
“It’s a rest stop for traffic,” Councilman Jim Dinizio said, adding that he “doesn’t see the sense” in selling alcohol at the site.