Awash in controversy, damaged Southport Beach stand hauled to Westport
Updated 3:00 pm, Tuesday, August 13, 2013
A day before the demolition deadline, the owner of the former Southport Beach concession stand moved the Superstorm Sandy-damaged building during a busy Sunday afternoon at the beach.
It didn't go far, however.
The shack is now sitting behind a low stone wall at a Beachside Avenue home in Westport, just over the town line from Fairfield. Spray painted on the front are the words "Demolition" and "town of Farfield" (sic), along with Monday's date. Building and public works officials both said their departments had not marked the building.
Hunter King, owner of King's Kitchen, the concessionnaire at Southport Beach, had purchased the building from the town for $450 after officials decided not to rebuild the food stands at either Sasco or Southport beaches. Both suffered serious damage during Sandy last October.
Under terms of the sales contract -- on which King was the sole bidder -- he was to remove the structure by June 25 or forfeit the bid.
Several deadlines came and went, but the structure had not been moved. Last week, Christine Neidermeier, a lawyer working for the town, sent King a letter stating that if the stand was not off the beach by Monday at 9 a.m., it would be demolished by the town. He was also instructed to remove the sandwich-board signs advertising the menu at his beach food cart he had placed on either side of Pequot Avenue. That type of sign is a violation of town zoning regulations.
King, his family and friends were at the beach early Sunday, prepping to move the building, which has been on a flatbed trailer since July 4.
By Sunday evening, the building was gone, although the sandwich-board signs remained.
Town officials had offered the current concession operators the first opportunity to provide a food truck at the beach. The concessionaire at Sasco declined, but King brought in a food cart as an alternative to the damaged stand.
According to the town's contracts for the concession stands, if the stands are temporarily unusable, the town will make repairs up to $2,000. The town, however, is under no obligation to restore the building in the event of major damage or destruction by fire or other casualty.
After the assessing the significant storm damage to the stands at Southport and Sasco beaches, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted not to repair the structures and instead use food trucks there.
According to Recreation Director Gerald Lombardo, it would cost about $45,000 to rebuild each of the structures and bring the concession stands into compliance with Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines. King's rent for this season was $900.
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