Walter torpedoes dinner boat plans for not being ‘real’

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter issued a press release last Friday saying he “sees no future” in a weeks-old proposal to bring a dinner cruise boat to the Peconic River dock downtown.

He also stated it’s “quite clear to me that the proposal made to Riverhead to dock and operate the ‘Cabana’ in Riverhead is not a real proposal at all.”

The supervisor issued the statement after he, Councilman John Dunleavy, Business Improvement District head Ray Pickersgill and Chamber of Commerce member Bob Lanieri “visited the New York City dock” where the boat was being kept, Mr. Walter said.

“We were informed that the ‘businesspeople’ that brought this dubious idea to Riverhead do not own, lease, nor control the very boat they sought to dock downtown,” he said.

But Ed Graham, a marketing representative for the group that has been looking to bring the 98-foot-long cruise boat to Riverhead, said the supervisor “has his facts all mixed up.”

He told the News-Review there was a tentative arrangement for town officials to meet with Vito DeCandia of The Cabana business group at the boat Friday morning, but Mr. DeCandia ended up in a hospital Thursday and left a phone message early Friday saying he wasn’t going to be able to keep the appointment.

The Riverhead contingent went anyway to see the boat, though Mr. Graham also said the boat was shipped to New Jersey that same morning and is now dry-docked so it can be painted, wallpapered and carpeted. The boat’s owner, whom he would not identify, was not aware the town officials were coming — and was not about to give information to the strangers, he said.

Mr. Graham explained that he and Captain John Abbaticchio are owners of a business looking to run dinner cruises on the boat, which they were planning to lease, and were waiting for an agreement with the town that would establish a fee they would pay to represent approximately what a normal business in downtown would pay in taxes.

“They never said the agreement was contingent upon them seeing the boat,” he said, adding that town officials asked to see the boat last week.

“What are they going to learn from seeing the boat?” he asked. The boat needs to be inspected by the Coast Guard before it can be put in the water, and he assumed they would want to see it after all the painting and carpeting and wallpapering was done.

“Why would they want to see a boat that’s not ready?” he said.

Mr. Walter said in an interview that the Riverhead officials never received a message saying the meeting was canceled.

He also said that when they arrived at World Yacht, a cruise line company at Pier 81 in Manhattan, they were told the boat was owned by someone named Marco Polo. Mr. Walter said he spoke to that man on the phone and was told there is no agreement to put the boat in Riverhead. The man didn’t know Mr. DeCandia but did know Mr. Abbaticchio, according to Mr. Walter.

Mr. Walter later acknowledged that he wasn’t sure if the man’s name was Marco Polo, although his first name was Marco. The Cabana is advertised on the Marco Polo Cruises website, and that company’s owner reportedly is a man named Marco Tempesto.

A World Yacht employee who gave the name Costas Markou and said he owns a Wading River home, also spoke to the Riverhead group. He said the boat was in Staten Island.

He also said it wouldn’t fit under the County Road 105 bridge near Indian Island.

Mr. Graham insisted the boat was being dry-docked in New Jersey and would be adjusted so it would clear the bridge.

He also said the group was going to straighten everything out by early this week. He gave the News-Review a number to reach Mr. DeCandia on Tuesday. Mr. DeCandia did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Mr. Walter said the group shouldn’t bother.

“This deal is as dead as Riverhead Resorts,” he said Friday.

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