Southport shack is back, but lacks permission again
Updated 5:32 am, Wednesday, October 30, 2013
It's become as consistent as the tides -- the former Southport Beach concession stand has shown up once again somewhere it's not wanted.
The small, weathered building now owned by Hunter King was deposited sometime on Monday in the parking lot of the Ukrainian Club on Kings Drive, off the Post Road in the Southport section of town.
According to a statement from the club, King did not receive prior permission or approval to relocate the stand, which in a weeks-long odyssey has been forced from Southport Beach, a private home on Beachside Drive in Westport, Westport's Burying Hill Beach, the state commuter lot on the Sherwood Island Connector in Westport and a site off Nyala Farms Road, where it was last Friday.
King bought the Sandy-damaged stand from the town after its was swept from its site last October, and hoped to repair it and make it mobile enough to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations for temporary buildings. The Parks and Recreation Commission, however, has decided it will make use of food trucks at both Southport and Sasco beaches instead of restoring the damaged beach concessions.
"It definitely won't be going back," Recreation Director Gerald Lombardo said of the dislodged stand. "We won't be putting a building there."
King missed several town-imposed deadlines over the summer to get the shack off the beach. He finally complied when the town threatened, via a letter from an assistant town attorney, to demolish the structure if it was not gone by Aug. 12.
In an email message Tuesday, King claimed that, "We told the Ukrainian Club that we were leaving the building there for the day while we make arrangements for the building to be moved to our friend's house up the street."
But he did not have permission, according to club officials, who called police Tuesday afternoon to document that King did not have permission to store the building -- still on a trailer and hitched to a red truck -- on their property.
No registration plate was found on the truck; the registration on the trailer is traced to an address in Pennsylvania. An orange violation sticker is on the trailer hitch, from its stint in the state commuter lot in Westport.
King has used the King's Kitchen Facebook page to chastise Fairfield officials for not allowing a permanent, or even semi-permanent stand back on the beach. The Parks and Recreation Commission, in the aftermath of extensive damage caused by Superstorm Sandy, decided it would have mobile food trucks serve beach goers each morning and leave in the evening -- or when severe weather threatens.
In his email, King wrote, "We feel very sad about this and feel unwelcome by the town. They have not been accommodating and have gone to every effort to force us out of business after continuing to profit at a loss from our first year in 2012."
He said the Kings no longer want to return to Southport Beach "after what the town has put us through." He said they were "trying to set a standard for beachfare using Connecticutly (sic) grown produce," and they just wanted to "bring joy and peace to the beach with great food and ambience."
He also noted there has been no public support for the concession stand when he has pleaded his case at monthly Parks and Recreation Commission meetings.
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