First pitched in Riverhead, dinner cruise won’t float in Greenport this year

The cocktail cruise boat Cabana won’t float in Greenport Harbor this year and, unless organizers change their tune, it appears unlikely to ever make it to Peconic Bay waters.

Project proponent Ed Graham told Greenport Village Board members at their May 23 meeting that he had done everything they asked of him and still hasn’t received a response on what it would cost to berth the 366-passenger cocktail boat at either the railroad dock or Mitchell Park Marina.

His proposal was to run the boat, on which drinks, hors d’oeuvres and light snacks would be served, for daylight cruises between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., sunset cruises between 5 and 9 p.m. and moonlight cruises from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. He said he was prepared to pay the village $10,000 for dock space, as well as a small fee for each passenger.

“The opportunity has passed for the Cabana to be out here this summer,” Mr. Graham said. “We were bringing money to the this town. We were bringing people to this town. I thought Greenport would embrace something like this. You told me to go through the process. The process left me empty.”

Mayor David Nyce told Mr. Graham his presentation to the Greenport Business Improvement District failed to provide the information needed for the Village Board to make a decision.

Mr. Graham said he gave the Village Board a basic proposal. But what the board wants is a business plan — something he’s reluctant to provide.

“Why give away our business to people like Peconic Star?” he said, referring to a fishing boat that runs out of Greenport.

His answer came after the meeting in response to a question about whether he would make a business plan available before next summer.

Mr. Graham’s initial proposal got him before the Village Board in April, after the Town of Riverhead practically laughed him out of town following his attempt to get secure dock space there.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and other officials travelled to New York City to check out the Marco Polo Cruise Fleet, which owns the boat, only to return with word that Mr. Graham did not have an agreement to lease the boat.

“Riverhead thought it was a joke,” Mr. Graham later told Village Board members. “They kind of threw us under the bus.”

Greenport officials have been equally skeptical.

Because Mr. Graham said his business would not compete with Greenport restaurants, Mayor David Nyce asked him to attend a Greenport Business Improvement District meeting. Providing no answers to BID members’ questions, Mr. Graham received a chilly reception there as well.

BID member and restaurateur Jan Claudio asked why the boat should be allowed to operate with none of the overhead costs village restaurant operators bear, including property taxes and a special BID tax.

Mr. Graham appeared at the May 16 Village Board work session, but because he wasn’t on the agenda and the public is no longer afforded the opportunity to comment at work sessions, his proposal was not discussed.

When asked if he will try again next year, he shrugged.

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