Pedicabs coming to Bay Shore?

Town enters license agreement with Fire Island Pedicabs

Grace Mercurio
Posted 4/25/24

After the final item on the agenda for the April 16 Islip Town Board meeting was read and voted upon, a new item was introduced by councilman Michael McElwee: a motion for the Town to enter into a …

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Pedicabs coming to Bay Shore?

Town enters license agreement with Fire Island Pedicabs


After the final item on the agenda for the April 16 Islip Town Board meeting was read and voted upon, a new item was introduced by councilman Michael McElwee: a motion for the Town to enter into a license agreement with Burma Rides Inc., DBA Fire Island Pedicabs.

The license agreement would allow Fire Island Pedicabs to utilize Town property for picking up and dropping off customers going to and from the ferry terminal at the Maple Avenue marina. There would be a pickup in the parking lot behind the bandshell on Main Street to bring customers to the ferry terminal, and pedicabs would also bring customers from the ferry to the Bay Shore train station.

The proposed license agreement immediately prompted a lengthy discussion of safety concerns and liability. Supervisor Angie Carpenter voiced her concerns about safety, given the fact that Maple Avenue garners high traffic in the summertime when ferries arrive and depart.

Carpenter explained that the bike lane on Maple Avenue was not designed wide enough for an electric bike with a basket in the back to transport adults, and if an accident were to happen after entering into the license agreement, the town could be held liable.

Additionally, Carpenter shared that Public Safety Enforcement and the Department of Public Works both had concerns about the safety of adding pedicabs to the roadway.

Councilman Jorge Guadrón added that according to councilman McElwee, the licensee will be able to conduct business on their own whether the Town Board adopts or rejects the proposal.

“Now if we have granted permission for them to operate on our property, we are prime candidates for a lawsuit. We would have aided and abetted this business,” explained Carpenter. “If the guy can go off on his own and start operating, God bless him, let him do it. But why do we want to encumber the town?” implored Carpenter. “God knows how many lawsuits we already get, and they do not sue for a hundred dollars, we are talking millions and millions of dollars that we are going to be liable for.”

Councilman James O’Connor, who shared that he only received information about the proposed licensing agreement 36 hours before the Town board meeting, questioned whether the board would be able to negotiate what the insurance requirements would be with the potential licensee. Town attorney Michael Walsh confirmed that there would be potential to negotiate if the licensing agreement were adopted.

“The policy is one million two million,” shared McElwee, meaning one million per concurrence, two million aggregates. “There are optional policies, and I believe we can require higher coverage limits.”

“Certainly, a $1 million policy with a $2 million umbrella is insufficient. But I rely on opinions from our insurance professionals,” stated Walsh. “If the town board wants, I will send an email to all of you saying what I think an appropriate level of insurance ought to be.”

A point of contention during the meeting was whether or not the licensing agreement should instead require a RFP, or request for proposals. RFPs are sent out by the town to parties who may be interested in submitting a proposal to provide a particular good or service.

Throughout the meeting, Carpenter stated that she believed licensing a piece of town property for business purposes would require an RFP, while McElwee was insistent that this particular agreement would not require one.

“I spoke with the town attorney this morning, and according to Municipal Code 103, we are not required to put out an RFP,” McElwee remarked. “It does not qualify for that based on the amount of the rent and overall scope of it.”

Carpenter asked the board multiple times to table the proposed licensing agreement and reconvene for a special meeting the following week. The supervisor explained that tabling would grant them an opportunity to research the issue, learn more information, and have everyone with a stake in the agreement present to give their input, including Public Safety Enforcement, the Department of Public Works, Code Enforcement, Traffic Safety, the commissioner of Public Safety, and the precinct commander.

Carpenter made a motion to table the, seconded by councilman Guadrón, but the motion ultimately failed with no further support.

“We spend millions of dollars on bike lanes on maple avenue, and this gentleman is just trying to conduct business,” voiced councilman John Lorenzo. “We are business friendly. It is April, May will come quickly, and we all know people love to enjoy Fire Island.”

McElwee stated his belief that adopting the licensing agreement would not be rushed, as he stated he had been working on the project since January, had multiple meetings with the town attorney, and spoke with the commissioner of Code Enforcement.

Ultimately, the resolution passed in a roll call vote in which councilmen McElwee, Lorenzo, and O’Connor voted to adopt, Carpenter voted to reject, and councilman Guadrón abstained from voting.

Carpenter later gave a statement regarding the resolution.

“Although we have been advised by the town attorney that in his opinion an RFP is not required for this particular license agreement, I am concerned regarding the process that took place,” stated Carpenter. “No other businesses had an equal opportunity to request permission to operate at this location. It could appear that preferential treatment was given to one business, and if it does not violate the letter of the law, it certainly is not the most transparent way to operate.”


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