Beach Huts Future Still Uncertain

Kitty Merrill

They may not be the best-kept secret in the Hamptons. Just about every night during the summer season, the Beach Huts in Westhampton and Hampton Bays boast hundreds of visitors who head there for reasonably priced food and expertly–executed music, all against a backdrop of starry skies and pounding surf. They’re not terribly secret, but the Cupsogue and Meschutt sites are decidedly un-Hamptons.

They’re also in danger of remaining shuttered for the summer, if county officials can’t settle their differences and pick an operator for the concessions at the parks.

Last year County Comptroller John Kennedy audited the prior Beach Hut operator’s books and found discrepancies that culminated in guilty pleas on charges of failure to pay sales and income tax.

Now Kennedy wants to audit the process through which the county picks the next concessionaire. He wants to do it so badly, he’s gone to court to obtain a temporary restraining order prohibiting the county from making the selection.

“The comptroller made a very unusual move of inserting himself in this procurement process,” Legislator Bridget Fleming offered on Monday. The Town of Babylon has already selected operators for the Beach Huts on its properties. The original plan — before Kennedy sought the TRO — was to choose vendors on March 31, with an eye toward Memorial Day openings.

A hearing on the restraining order is slated for Monday, Fleming informed. She’s hoping the dispute can be resolved quickly. Referring to Kennedy, she said, “Whatever he’s up to, if it’s legal or political, I hope it’s not going to interfere with our beachgoers being able to enjoy the beach this summer.”

Located on seven acres in Hampton Bays, Meschutt County Park boasts 1000 feet of Peconic Bay shoreline. Throughout the summer, it was a popular site for weekly car shows and sunset cocktails with dinners served on paper plates. Its weekly Latin night drew hundreds to the locale.

Cupsogue County Park is found at the end of Dune Road on the barrier island in West Hampton Dunes. Mudslides and music were the order of the evenings there, with some of Long Island’s most popular groups performing on the boardwalk.

A fire in 2014 destroyed the old school concession stand replete with showers and lockers, plus two bars and restaurant seating outdoors and along the boardwalk. The rebuild saw a smaller band shell on an elevated boardwalk, with the restaurant and rest rooms in temporary trailers located alongside the parking lot. The temporary structures were sited within a year of the fire, and no plans for permanent buildings were made.

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