Del’s coming to East Ferry
Despite two resisting councilors and a Ferry Wharf business owner with vocal apprehensions, a Del’s Lemonade stand will be camped behind the bus stop near memorial square for the summer.
The town council voted 3-2 Monday night to allow concessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week from mid-May through Sept. 17. Del’s, which was awarded the Mackerel Cove bid two weeks ago, will pay the town $3,250 for the rights to East Ferry. The Cranston-based business outbid Johnny Angel’s Clam Shack by more than $2,000.
Councilors Blake Dickinson and Mary Meagher cast the dissenting votes.
“I don’t feel comfortable at all supporting this,” Dickinson said.
According to the panel’s lone Republican, the vote sets a bad precedent to welcome out-of-town vendors to compete with businesses that “sweat in the summer” and toil through the winter.
“I have to agree,” Meagher said.
Council President Kristine Trocki, however, said the trial summer experiment could benefit local businesses.
“I think it would be better for seasonal businesses to see if it works,” she said. “If it fails, it can go away. If it’s a success, our businesses can bid with the hope that a local vendor would take over.”
“We should experiment with this,” Vice President Mike White said. “They’re only selling Del’s Lemonade.”
The town is not allowed to limit bidders to Jamestown vendors per the state purchasing agreement, Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero said.
Mike Ridge, owner of Spinnakers Cafe, was disappointed in the vote.
“For starters, the Del’s person isn’t here and I am,” he said.
Ridge said the town should have solicited complementary vendors selling items different than what’s already available downtown, such as the Stearns Farms vegetable stand that has been featured in the past.
Ridge also said the lemonade cart would add to the congestion already seen at East Ferry during tourist season.
“You just gave away a $3,000 parking space,” he said. “I support Del’s at Mackerel Cove, but East Ferry is a whole different ballgame. It’s too small.”
Town Administrator Andy Nota said there was “tremendous money to be made,” but proprietors never showed interest in the $20 peddler’s license in past seasons. Before this year, only that permit was required to hawk refreshments in the area.
“If local businesses had taken advantage, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion,” he said.
Through an evaluation, Nota found vendors and storefronts don’t have to be mutually exclusive. “They seem to co-exist,” he said. “I don’t recall a loss in business. It’s an experiment for one season. If it doesn’t work out, that contract doesn’t have to be renewed.”
Andy Wade, recreation department director, recommended the bid. He said the cart only is permitted to serve lemonade. There will be no water hookup, no electricity and no truck, he added.
Also, summer concerts and the Fourth of July fireworks happen after 5 p.m., so other vendors can be considered because the contract with Del’s specifies a timeframe.
“We absolutely have the ability to go out for individual vendors at different rates and different arrangements,” Nota said.