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Community input sought on whether to sell alcohol at beach

Riverhead Town officials say they’d like to get community feedback before deciding whether to allow the sale of alcohol at the South Jamesport Beach concession.

At last Thursday’s work session, Town Board members discussed a proposal for doing so on a pilot basis this summer in anticipation of a larger rollout next year, should the public approve.

Because the concession stand at the town beach needs a significant amount of work, officials discussed a plan under which local beer and wine would be sold from the stand but food would be offered by food trucks that would bid to operate at the site.

“If we’re going to be selling alcohol, I think we should reach out to the civic association first,” Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said.

Deputy town attorney Anne Marie Prudenti said the plan would not be on the same scale as Suffolk County’s operation at Meschutt Beach in Hampton Bays, which had been discussed a few weeks ago. She also said it would not have amplified music.

Ms. Jens-Smith said the first decision that needs to be made is whether the town wants to sell alcohol at the beach.

“I think before we do something like that, we should at least talk to the civics,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said.

“We’re doing this for the public,” said parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne. “If the public doesn’t want this, we want to know about that.”

He said the town already holds about two concerts per season at the beach.

Mr. Coyne said one thing he wants to see at the beach is more available food options. Currently, the town can sell only packaged items and ice cream.

If the town were to sell alcohol from the concession stand, there would be a designated area where it could be consumed, much like the “beer gardens” at events like the Polish Town Festival.

Mr. Coyne said making the change as a pilot project is what he would recommend, so the public can see what’s being proposed.

If approved, alcohol sales would be permitted only after 5 p.m., he added.

The Greater Jamesport Civic Association discussed the beach proposal briefly at its March 16 meeting.

“When I saw that [proposal], I flipped out,” said association president William Van Helmond, adding that he used to live in Hampton Bays and is familiar with Cupsogue Beach, which is part of the Suffolk County park system.

“It becomes a hangout for a lot of drinking and music,” he said.

“The Town Board is often interested in having events here that we don’t benefit from,” said Elaine McDuffy of Jamesport. “We don’t need any more traffic out here. I don’t think they get that. Don’t just dump something on us without getting the feedback from the community.”

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