FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s Parks and Recreation Commission is faced with deciding what the definition of mobile is and what that will mean for the Southport Beach concession.
The concession stand at Southport Beach had been there for more than 60 years before it was moved off its foundations by Hurricane Sandy last year and was scheduled for demolition by the town at the beginning of the month.
Hunter King, owner of King’s Kitchen, purchased the building earlier this summer from the town and removed it before demolition. Since removing it from the beach area, he has put it on a trailer and is asking the town to let him bring the building back to the beach as a temporary building.
“I envision that we would have the building five feet above sea level to meet FEMA [rules],” King told the commission at a meeting Wednesday night. He added that there would be a handicap-accessible ramp, “and use it as the way we’ve used it for the past 60 years.”
Because the building will be on the trailer, it can be considered a temporary and mobile building, but the question remained: how mobile can it be?
“What I thought we were going to have was a mobile truck or cart come in and then leave at the end of the night,” commission Member Alexa Mullady said.
King explained that the building would only have to be there for 180 days, making it temporary, but also can be moved off the beach with a truck.
Part of what concerned commission members with that proposal was that King would need permission from the police and the Department of Transportation to get the truck into the area and remove it, unlike a food cart or truck which can be removed at the end of each day.
“I think we have to think about what we really mean,” Commission Chair Dante Gallucci said.
Several residents from the area around Southport Beach were at the meeting to speak out against Kings Kitchen.
Resident and manager of the Sausquana Association Sea Lodge Peggy Brenton told the commission that the concession stand had violated its contracts with the town by having tents, chairs and tables as well as sandwich board menus on either side of the road. She also provided dates, times and weather conditions for when the stand was not open for business.
“Where does it end?” George Russell asked, after speaking about how much room the concession stand took up at the beach. “A lot of the neighbors in the area aren’t okay with it.”
What the commission ultimately needs to decide, Gallucci said, is what kind of food service they want at the beach, if any, and what is the definition of mobile.