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Suffolk park reservation system shut for a day

This notice about the Suffolk camping reservation system

This notice about the Suffolk camping reservation system could be seen on the Suffolk Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation's website early Wednesday evening, April 22, 2015. Credit: Suffolk Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation

Suffolk park officials shut down its new computerized reservation system late Tuesday after service on the website was so slow it was virtually inoperable. Park officials say service was restored at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Parks Commissioner Greg Dawson disclosed the problem earlier Wednesday at the legislature's parks committee meeting and said the vendor, Vermont Systems, and county information technology officials worked throughout the day to fix it.

The software system, which first went online Jan. 19, normally takes several hundred computerized reservations daily for camping, golf, picnicking and other park services. The county paid $110,000 for the system software and has a $15,000-a-year support contract that runs through 2019.

The problems, according to Dawson, began Sunday when the system response time began to slow. He said he shut down the system at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday when it "slowed to a crawl" and park users could not complete reservation requests. The parks department was still able to take golf reservations by telephone, Dawson added.

On the parks department website, officials had listed a notice saying, "We are currently experiencing issues which are causing a delayed response. During this time, we have shut down the reservation system to resolve this as soon as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience."

Dawson told lawmakers the problems were likely caused by the county's complicated reservation procedures, particularly for camping, which have a wide variety of rates as well as numerous rules and restrictions on how often reservations can be made.

The issue arose when Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), the parks committee chairman, said he had received complaint calls for several local residents. "It sound a little like the rollout of the health care act," he said.

Dawson said the department had received several dozen complaints, and was keeping staff on site late last night to make sure there were no further problems. "We are keeping an eye on it," he said.

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