The State Parks Department is withdrawing the request for proposal it issued earlier this month for the Taste NY retail concession at Hallock State Park.
State Senator Ken LaValle spoke to the State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey and the RFP, which called for a retail concession including alcohol sales, will be pulled, an aide to LaValle said today.
Town officials were incensed by the state agency including alcohol sales in the RFP for the retail concession shop without discussing it with them, as first reported on Saturday by SoutholdLOCAL.
Supervisors Scott Russell and Sean Walter had scheduled a press conference for tomorrow morning to announce their opposition to the idea and that they were exploring legal remedies.
Russell said during a town board work session this morning that the state agency violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act because it did not discuss or analyze the impacts of a retail concession in the environmental impact statement it prepared for the park.
“It’s a disingenuous sort of approach,” Southold Town planner Mark Terry told the board at the work session, as he outlined what the parks department sought in the RFP issued this month, compared to what was in the impact statement. “It’s completely inconsistent with the rural corridor,” he said.
“They’ve got this high moral ground about the products being made in New York,” Russell said. “Who cares? They could be made in trees by Keebler elves. I don’t care.” Russell said the towns’ zoning codes provide for places where locally produced alcoholic beverages can be sold.
Russell and Walter were concerned about alcohol being sold at a facility that is essentially a roadside rest stop as well as the anticipated traffic impacts on Sound Avenue.
As the work session ended, Russell got a text message from LaValle aide Joann Scalia, who advised him that the RFP was being withdrawn at the senator’s urging.
“I’m grateful to the senator,” Russell said. “This is very good news. Even though it’s a state facility it should include a local vision.”
LaValle will bring parks department officials together with town officials to discuss what’s appropriate for the site, Scalia said in a phone interview. The meeting will be scheduled as soon as the state budget process is done, she said. Walter contacted the senator to complain about the state’s intention for the site, she said.
“I consider that a 100-percent complete victory for the towns of Riverhead and Southold,” Walter said this morning.
The press conference scheduled for tomorrow by town officials will be canceled.