The Playland Tiki Bar is running up a tab for more primo county property. In a deal worked out with Astorino and supported by Rye Mayor French, the Tiki Bar will increase in size by nearly 50% to 15,500 square feet, approximately 4,500 square feet larger than approved in 2009.
A decision about expansion had been delayed last fall after residents expressed concern about what once reader called a metastasizing Tiki Bar. In a MyRye.com reader poll, 82% of readers were against the expansion.
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French told MyRye.com "The County has followed through on its commitment to listen to the concerns of Rye and put forth remedies with the Pier Restaurant. The primary issues were public access, security and noise based on feedback from residents, Councilwoman Parker and me, and our Playland Advisory Committee. Changes to the license agreement as well as heightened coordination with Park Management will improve the situation, and the County is committed to monitoring and managing these and other issues through the season."
The final changes were approved 3-0 by the County Board of Acquisition and Contract on Friday. Here are the details of the agreement as outlined by County Exec Astorino:
"Let me begin by sincerely thanking you for contacting me regarding the Pier Restaurant at Playland. I have heard your concerns and, as a result, have reached an agreement with the owner that will ensure public access to all areas of the boardwalk and pier.
By way of background, the existing five year license agreement with 181 New England Seafood Corporation (Pier Restaurant and Tiki Bar) was negotiated by the administration of former County Executive Andrew Spano and approved by the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract, which is comprised of the County Executive, the Chairman of the Board of Legislators and the Commissioner of Public Works. It was passed unanimously on February 19, 2009 and on April 16, 2009 with no comment from Mr. Spano or any member of the Board of Legislators.
The Pier Restaurant, in its first year of operation, proved to be a tremendous success:
- 184 jobs created
- License Fees to the County in 2010 amounting to $111,009.32 (5% of Gross Sales)
- Sales Tax to the County in 2010 amounting to $163,738
- A majority of food vendors are Westchester based companies
- Capital improvements to the existing facility, as well as a floating dock, ramp and moorings were completed by the Licensee. The improvements are valued at substantially more than the $500,000 that was originally proposed.
The success of the Pier Restaurant over its first season required the County Parks Department to implement adjustments that would accommodate both patrons of the Pier Restaurant and members of the public. The adjustments included fencing and roping in designated areas and allowing the restaurant to utilize additional outdoor seating.
In determining what would be acceptable to the County in any amendment to the license the County wished to balance the importance of public access to open space with a successful, public-private partnership.
Accordingly, after hearing from residents and elected officials, meeting with the Licensee, as well as staff from the Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation and the Department of Public Safety, I am prepared to support an amendment that allows for a limited expansion of the Pier Restaurant in exchange for unfettered public access to the pier and boardwalk. Attached please find a map detailing this proposal:
“A” is the area currently subject to this license and it is not proposed to change.
“B” is an area that was previously subject to the license agreement but the Licensee has agreed to relinquish this space in order to guarantee public access to the pier by the public. This area will be specifically designated in the written agreement. In addition, the gates to the pier, in both the licensed area and the public access area, are under the control of the County and have not been, nor will they be, closed other than for public safety reasons.
“B1” is an area that the Licensee was given access to for table seating during the 2010 season. The owner has agreed not to seek the use of this area and it will not be part of the future license amendment.
“C” is an area which currently is not being used by Westchester County but had been prior to 2010 for a summer concert series. This area does not interfere with the boardwalk in any way, has a definite boundary, and is separate from the boardwalk.
“D” will be a specific fenced or roped off area on the boardwalk extending along the front side of the restaurant and will be used as a waiting area for patrons, thus alleviating any congestion on the boardwalk or pier.
“E” consists of both existing and new licensed space that will be used for kitchen expansion and increased restroom facilities.
“F” will be an area that the Pier Restaurant will be granted permission under the amended license to place one row of tables. The specific dimensions of this area will be identified in the License Amendment. It should be noted that the placing of tables in this area over the past year did not result in the closure of the Seaside Walk. The gate at the north end of this area was closed for a period of time to install fencing and repair the seawall and walkway, which was significantly damaged during the high wind and rain storms in March, 2010. This gate will remain open for public access.
The size of the amended license is estimated to be 15,500 square feet, approximately 4,500 square feet larger than approved in 2009. Much of this was permitted last year but will now be part of the written agreement (i.e., moving tables from the pier to the side of the Ice Casino building).
Under the current License Agreement the Licensee pays the County a minimum fee ($30,000 in years 1-3 and $40,000 in years 4-5) or a percentage of the gross receipts (5% in years 1-2 and 6% in years 3-5), whichever is greater.
The financial arrangement of the proposed amendment is to increase the minimum license fee to $45,000 in years 2 and 3 and to $60,000 in years 4 and 5. The formula for a percentage of gross receipts remains in effect.
You should also know that Mr. Ambrose, on his own, has hired a private security firm to work in cooperation with county police to assure a safe and healthy environment for residents and patrons.
I have met with Rye Mayor Doug French, who supports the compromises and amendment to the License. As such, it will be on the Board of Acquisition and Contract agenda for a vote on Friday, January 28th.
Thank you again for your input, comments, and suggestions on this important matter to the residents of Rye and the entire County.
Robert P. Astorino, County Executive"