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Letter: Soundview At The Golf Course Was A Sound Decision

A letter recently submitted by Councilman Reginald Spinello, “What Happens in The Dark,” attempted to defame a negotiated lease made in the best interest of Glen Cove under the guidance of our city attorney.

 

The City Council, including Councilman Spinello, unanimously released Soundview’s prior operator in the fall of 2012. A Request For Proposal (RFP) to replace the operator was issued in 2013 with sufficient time to re-open for the spring golf season. The Council then unanimously chose an operator – new to all of us – who’d responded with the best proposal. Unfortunately, that operator had difficult family circumstances, including the death of his father overseas, and was unable to fulfill his obligation.

I immediately sought the help of local restaurateur, Chef Jeanine DiMenna of Page One, who “stepped up to the plate” as she is known to do, to get us through the first two golf outings of the season in early May. She did a wonderful job, and I asked her to consider finishing out the season.

During the May 21 pre-council meeting, at which Councilman Spinello was present, our city attorney advised the council of the legal options available to select a new operator.

He explained that the mayor has the ability, under the City Charter, to negotiate a lease with the voting support of the council instead of the lengthy RFP process. It was decided to pursue this more expedient course of action.

 

At that juncture, I asked Councilman Spinello if the personal friends of his, who’d had received an RFP packet originally, but never applied, might be interested. I met with Councilman Spinello and his friends on May 24 and at the conclusion of that meeting, I invited them to attend a special pre-council meeting on May 28 to present their terms to the full Council.

That same afternoon, May 24, a Glen Cove couple stopped by my office unannounced and demonstrated interest, and I invited them to attend the May 28 meeting as well.

At the May 28 meeting, the council met first with Councilman Spinello’s friends. Their offer was to run the restaurant at zero rent and zero utilities through the end of the 2015 season. Councilman Spinello and one other council member were comfortable with these terms, but the majority of the council felt that it was an unacceptable business arrangement.

The second party then presented their ideas, and though it included payment of rent and utilities after a startup “grace” period, the council did not think their expressed concept for the restaurant was consistent with the family atmosphere at the park.

 

The following day, May 29, Councilman Spinello emailed me with a new offer from his friends. They would pay rent at a low rate, but still zero utilities through 2015.

 

The majority of the council and I felt that Jeanine should have the right of first refusal, if her lease terms were acceptable, because she had helped us through a difficult predicament, and because she’d been the first to express interest with a proposal that was actually reasonable and fair to our city. She is paying utilities starting in September of this year, and will be paying rent of $3,000 per month beginning March of 2014.  Her rent will increase 3 percent per year, and she also agreed to a bonus on gross revenue after it exceeds $600,000.  This was the best deal for Glen Cove. Additionally, Jeanine has a 16-year track record running Page One, and also eight years at the golf course restaurant when it was The Tiffany House. 

 

Therefore, on June 11, I presented our best choice to the City Council -- Glen Cove’s own Jeanine DiMenna, whose 24 plus years of experience is three more years than the operator we originally chose through the RFP process unanimously (7-0) and yet the council voted 4-2 in her favor. Under the advice of the city attorney, I abstained from voting, since I had negotiated the terms of the proposed lease.

 

We selected a Glen Cover who has demonstrated a deep commitment and love for our community. She pitched in when the going was rough, and provided the city with the best option in terms of rent, utilities, and customer service. The restaurant is a tremendous asset to the City of Glen Cove and its residents, not only for the golfers but for the many people who use the other park amenities.  Jeanine’s skill and service excellence is a much-needed addition to our park. Please join me in wishing her success.

Mayor Ralph V. Suozzi