Those seeking a cold, refreshing treat while visiting Pikes Beach in West Hampton Dunes Village this summer will find themselves lining up next to a new ice cream truck.
Mister Softee, which is owned by Livaydan “Jimmy” Ilyas of North Babylon, recently won a pair of bids in which he agreed to pay Southampton Town a total of $10,200 per summer, for at least the next three years, to operate his vending trucks at both Pikes Beach and Flying Point Beach in Water Mill.
He agreed to pay $3,600 for the space at Pikes and another $6,600 for Flying Point, according to Chris Bean, the town’s superintendent of parks and recreation. Mr. Ilyas also retains the option to renew his leases for an additional three years if he so chooses.
“It’s very simple,” Mr. Bean said when reached this week about the changes, particularly at Pikes Beach. “The bid is awarded to the highest bidder.”
But that reasoning has not sat well with Maria Roussos of East Quogue, the owner of Beach Treats, who for the past six years has sold ice cream and other treats at the town beach on Dune Road in the Village of West Hampton Dunes. Prior to the change, the contract at Flying Point Beach belonged to Ryan Rand, the owner of Mohawk Ice Cream, according to the town.
“I had that spot for six years,” Ms. Roussos said this week, noting that she had been paying $2,500 per summer for the parking spot at Pikes and, this year, bid $2,800 to continue operating her business there. “You build relationships with people. I know the kids by name, and I know their orders.”
She has also been very critical of Mr. Ilyas and his company, going as far as making some allegations that he was not qualified to vend his goods in Southampton Town. But Mr. Bean defended the business owner on Tuesday, stating that Mr. Ilyas has all the required documentation, including a valid Suffolk County Department of Health permit to sell ice cream, prepackaged goods, candy and soda, as well as a facility use permit issued by the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department.
“[Mr. Ilyas] is a responsible bidder, as far as we’re concerned, and he did a great job at Long Beach last year,” Mr. Bean said this week, referring to Foster Memorial Beach in Noyac.
Ms. Roussos’s biggest qualm, however, is the town’s decision to award the bid to a business that is not based in Southampton Town. Ms. Roussos, who has lived in East Quogue for the past seven years, said the town should give priority to local businesses.
Earlier this week, she started a petition that seeks to change the law so that it would give preference to local businesses. She is also now considering securing a peddler’s permit so that she can continue operating Beach Treats elsewhere in the municipality.
“As a taxpayer and a member of the community, I think it’s unfair that bids get awarded to businesses outside [the municipality],” she said.
Though he lives in North Babylon, Mr. Ilyas noted that his fleet of three ice cream trucks can often been seen driving around Hampton Bays, Southampton and as far east as East Hampton, and, as noted, last year he was stationed at Foster Memorial Beach in Noyac. Starting this summer, one truck each will be stationed at Pikes and Flying Point beaches, while the third has a designated route. He has plans to lease a fourth truck soon.
“It’s the first year, so this is going to be a gamble,” Mr. Ilyas said, referring to his two winning bids.
He added that while his winning bids were high, he thinks he will be able save money on gas since he will no longer have to spend as much time traveling along his routes. Starting on Memorial Day, his trucks will sell ice cream and prepackaged sandwiches.
Mr. Bean noted that he has received a number of calls and emails, all to which he has replied, from community members and friends of Ms. Roussos criticizing the town’s policy regarding how it picks its beach vendors.
“Everybody had the right to bid on it,” he said. “The highest bidder got it. We have to go by the law.”
Still, Ms. Roussos said she now wants the law changed, noting that, as a local business, other companies in the area also profited from Beach Treats, explaining that she often picked up and delivered lunches for her best customers.
“This is the way the economy stays stimulated,” she said, referring to her practice of advertising on social outlets where she’d be on a particular day and offering to pick up meals for beach-goers. “I think preference should be given to locals.”
As for Mr. Ilyas, he said he does not mind the commute and pointed out that, as a father of three, he has plenty of experience working with children. “I have three kids, so I love kids,” he said.