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Proposal to sell alcohol at South Jamesport Beach appears unlikely to move forward

UPDATE: The community forum originally scheduled for April 30 has been canceled as the Town Board decided to no longer move ahead with the proposal, officials announced Thursday, April 25.

Original Story: A plan for a 14-week pilot program to allow alcohol and music on weekend nights at Riverhead Town’s South Jamesport Beach appears dead in the water.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ray Coyne spoke at a packed meeting of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association Saturday, at which almost everyone present opposed the idea.

Saturday’s meeting at the Jamesport Meeting House was one of two planned to get feedback from community members before deciding whether to move forward with the plan.

They got plenty of feedback … against the idea.

“I don’t think this is going anywhere after this meeting,” Mr. Coyne said.

About 55 people attended the event, and only one said he was in favor of the idea.

When that man asked if people were against the alcohol or the music, they answered: “both.”

“I work for you, so if this is something you don’t want, we’re not going to do it,” Mr. Coyne said.

By the end of the meeting, Mr. Coyne said he won’t recommend moving ahead with the idea.

Ms. Kent and Civic Association President William Van Helmond both said they had gotten some emails in favor of the idea, but that the majority were in opposition. 

“I think it’s beyond the shadow of a doubt that they know what our position is as a group,” Mr. Van Helmond said afterward.

The Town Board has also scheduled a public forum on the South Jamesport Beach proposal for Tuesday, April 30th at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center on 60 Shade Tree Lane in Aquebogue.

The board chose that location because it didn’t feel the Meeting House, where the civic association usually meets, was big enough. But 55 people still jammed into the Meeting House on Saturday morning. 

It’s not clear now if the Town will proceed with the April 30 meeting. Ms. Kent said she will discuss it with other board members and see what they want to do.

Mr. Coyne said the plan was to enhance the beach with cooked food from two food trucks, and local beer and wine sold from the concession stand.

He also called for live music, so long as it fell under the 80 decibel level. Some beaches in Brookhaven Town and Suffolk County’s beaches at Meschutt and Cupsogue already offer music, cooked food and alcohol, he said.

Among the reasons given for opposing the idea Saturday were that the town shouldn’t be promoting alcohol; people bring alcohol to the beach on their own anyway; it’s in a residential neighborhood; littering; and loud parties.

Mr. Coyne said by doing it as a pilot program, the town could have ended it whenever it saw fit, and wouldn’t have been stuck in a lengthy contract with a vendor.

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