RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | The Summerwind complex and Joe’s Garage and Grill downtown.
Editor’s note: Below is an updated and more detailed version of a story first published Monday on riverheadnewsreview.com. This version also appears in the Aug. 1 edition of the Riverhead News-Review newspaper.
Riverhead Councilwoman Jodi Giglio says she didn’t know that two of her partners in the Summerwind Square apartment complex were also owners of Joe’s Garage and Grill — a restaurant located within the building — when she voted in May to award that business two snack vendor contracts.
Had she known of her business partners’ involvement in the restaurant, Ms. Giglio said, she would have abstained on the snack vendor vote, explaining that the restaurant’s ownership changed just before the bidding process.
Ms. Giglio, who along with Ray Dickhoff, Martin Sendlewski and Wayne Steck, is a principal of Eastern Property Investor Consultants, LLC, the company that owns and is building Summerwind Square, a 52-unit apartment complex in the works on Peconic Avenue. Summerwind, which is not yet open, will offer apartments on the top three floors, as well as retail, including the restaurant, on its ground floor.
On May 22, through a competitive bidding process, the Riverhead Town Board awarded Joe’s Garage and Grill two snack vendor concession contracts for town beaches. The contract awards were recommended by recreation superintendent Ray Coyne, as is customary on bids. Joe’s Garage was the only bidder on one concession and was the high bidder, in terms of what it offered to pay the town, on the other, according to the resolution.
The town bid out snack vendor contracts for 13 locations, and Joe’s Garage was awarded contracts for the Iron Pier Beach and East Creek Marina concession stands, paying the town $1,000 for the East Creek concession and $500 for the Iron Pier concession for the summer months when the beaches are open. Of the 13 concession sites, seven received no bids, two received two bids and four received single bids, one of which was rejected. The town contracts limit what snack vendors can sell to hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, french fries, clam strips, chips, soda, water and ice cream.
The Town Board’s vote was unanimous, with Ms. Giglio among those voting in favor of the contracts.
The first-term councilwoman’s opponent in this fall’s Republican primary to run for a town council seat, Anthony Coates, recently charged in an interview with the News-Review that Ms. Giglio should have abstained from the vote because Joe’s Garage is her tenant in Summerwind.
When asked by the newspaper to explain her vote, Ms. Giglio said she didn’t think she should have had to abstain just because Joe’s Garage is a tenant. The issue was a competitive bid, she explained, and she didn’t stand to gain anything from Joe’s Garage receiving the vendor contract.
But the bid packets on file at the Riverhead town clerk’s office, which were then reviewed by the News-Review, show Mr. Dickhoff and Wayne Steck to be owners of Joe’s Garage, along with Mr. Dickhoff’s wife, Natalie, and Paul Steck.
The Stecks are owners of the Wayne Paul Construction Company in Melville, according to the company website.
Ms. Giglio and her husband, Mike, were previously involved with Wayne Paul Corporation in a once-proposed golf course and residential development called The Links at East Quogue, according to reports published in The Southampton Press. Mr. Giglio was partners with Wayne Steck and George Heinlein in a development called Country Estates at Commack in the 1990s, according to Wayne Paul Corporation’s website.
As for the restaurant, Ms. Giglio is not listed as an owner of Joe’s Garage and Grill, which is a separate corporation from Eastern Property Investor Consultants, according to the Department of State division of corporations.
When told by a reporter last week of Mr. Dickhoff’s ownership in the restaurant, Ms. Giglio then spoke to Mr. Dickhoff, who informed her he is an owner of Joe’s Garage as well, she said.
“I didn’t even know that when you asked me,” she told the reporter, adding that had she known, she would have abstained from voting on the snack vendor contracts.
Ms. Giglio said she had previously believed only Paul Steck was involved in the restaurant, along with Michael Katz, a deli owner from Manhattan. She said at some point in April, before the bidding process, the ownership changed and she wasn’t made aware of it.
She also produced a copy of a lease agreement dated August 2012 between Summerwind principal Wayne Steck and Michael Katz, which described Mr. Katz as the tenant and Mr. Steck as an EPIC managing member. The document is signed by Mr. Katz.
“How could she not have known?” Mr. Coates said of Ms. Giglio’s explanation. “It was in the bid packet. Was she not telling the truth when she said she didn’t know? Or did she vote on this without reading the bid packet? This is wrong in that she voted for a tenant of hers, it’s wrong that she voted for a business partner and it’s wrong that she didn’t read the bid packet.”
Ms. Giglio countered that only the recreation department head reviewed the bid packets before making a recommendation and that the resolution read only “Joe’s Garage.”