New rules would restrict beach concessions to mobile vendors
Updated 4:33 pm, Thursday, October 17, 2013
The small building that housed the Southport Beach concession before Superstorm Sandy swept it off the beach last October won't be restored under new vending rules taking shape.
Gerald Lombardo, director of the town's Parks and Recreation Department, said several days ago that the old building -- or any structure -- would not be allowed back at the Pequot Avenue beach. In the future, beach concessions would be governed by a proposed policy discussed Wednesday night by the Parks and Recreation Commission, which calls for a mobile vending service defined as "a self-contained vehicle or approved vending cart, commercially manufactured for food service, meeting industry standards, and driven from the premises after hours of operation on a daily basis throughout the term of the agreement."
The commission didn't vote on the proposal Wednesday, but did review several changes. No one from the public commented on the proposed policy during the meeting.
The mobile-vendor policy would apply to those public beaches where the commission no longer wants a permanent building, officials indicated.
Other parts of the proposed policy say that:
- The vehicle must be registered and licensed by the state Department of Motor Vehicles and local authorities, and that the town would determine the acceptable overall size, weight and capacity of it.
- Everyone working at the vehicle must have a valid vendor permit from the Police Department.
- Furnishings not required as part of the mobile vending operation, such as chairs, tables, umbrellas, tents, signs and stereo equipment, are not permitted. Playing loud music is "also strictly prohibited."
- Approval of the concessionaire to operate a mobile vending vehicle at a designated area of town property would not be considered as an approval to operate elsewhere on town-owned or private properties.
Changes discussed by the commission include adding the word "approved" before hours of operation and clarifying that the Parks and Recreation Commission, or its designee, would determine the acceptable overall size, weight and capacity of the vehicle or cart. Commission members also suggested that an approved mobile vending service means one that received approval from the commission and the town's Health Department.
Alexa Mullady, a commission member, questioned why "private property" was included in the last section of the proposed policy. Lombardo said Health Department officials made that request and he would look into the reasoning behind it. "I can only assume the Health Department wanted to know where the cart was going," he said.
Lombardo said the commission didn't have to vote on the proposed policy Wednesday night. "I could run it by the Health Department and others. I want to make sure why they have `private,' " he said.
Lombardo later said removal of the old Southport concession stand had opened up the small beachfront. "Without the building down there, it opens it up. It really does," he said.
Hunter King, who operated the concession stand at Southport Beach before the damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy, when he was forced to move the condemned building under Fairfield officials' threat to demolish it.
King, who did not attend the meeting, said a few days earlier that he still hopes to return the stand to Southport Beach for next summer. He planned to move it from Burying Hill beach in Westport, where he had moved it without permission and triggering controversy in that town. He moved it to the Westport beach after initially depositing it in a friend's yard on Beachside Avenue in Westport, where it drew a violation citation from zoning officials.