June 21, 2006
Parents everywhere know the all-too-familiar refrain: "Mom, there's nothing to do!"
And when kids are invited to the usual round of themed birthday parties, North Fork parents have typically had to trek west for over 40 minutes to sports facilities or popular chain-type pizza and video game arcades.
Now, there may be an alternative. Four residents appeared before the Southold Town Board at a recent work session to pitch a plan that they are proposing for a new family recreational center that would provide fun for all ages, right in North Fork residents' backyards.
The concept is for a brand-new family entertainment center called Galaxy's, to be located in the old Prime Purveyor building located on Cox's Lane just north of Route 48 in Cutchogue , which is owned by Rob Hamilton. The roughly 8000-square foot building has been vacant for almost four years and is situated on five acres, currently zoned Light Industrial.
Pat and Oreanna Kaelin and Luis and Jeanne Genovese, who are working together on the new venture, asked the town board to amend the zoning code to allow for the facility. Right now, there is no provision in any zone in Southold Town that would accommodate such a facility.
Both the Kaelins and the Genoveses, who also operate The Vintage Bed and Breakfast in Cutchogue, are aiming to create a hometown facility that will appeal to the heart of the community, and to all ages, from infants to grandparents. "We're all as local as we can get," said Pat Kaelin. "We want to stay in Southold Town."
Kaelin said the establishment would be geared toward children and teenagers between the ages of two and 19 and would feature a 2200 square foot, Star Wars-themed laser tag arena, birthday party rooms, an 800-square foot soft play area where toddlers and young children could climb and slide, an arcade offering over 30 video and simulator games, and an area for prize redemption.
And that's not all: Parents who need a break while their kids let loose would be able to enjoy an adult lounge offering billiards, table hockey, darts, Shuffleboard and a big-screen TV, as well as coffee and pastries.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said Mark Terry, acting planning department head, has reported that other municipalities, such as Riverhead, are moving to incorporate large recreational buildings on industrial-zoned parcels.
But, he emphasized, the board should not be addressing one specific project. Instead, the issue should be examined on a larger scale. "If you have a large, dilapidated building, how do you get people to invest?" he asked, if the parcel is not zoned for the applicant's intended use. Much of the town's "derelict inventory," he said, is located on LI-zoned property.
Assistant town attorney Kieran Corcoran said the only option available to applicants is to go to the zoning board of appeals for a use variance.
Councilman Tom Wickham said the project was reminiscent of plans for a town YMCA that were ultimately scrapped, and asked how the venture would manage to remain financially solvent.
"The business will succeed. It's needed," said Kaelin. "The demographics tell me it will succeed." Prices for laser tag parties would range from $16.95 per child, with a 10-child minimum, for a two-hour party on weekdays, and $18.95 per child, with a 10-child minimum, for a two-hour party on weekends and holidays. Adult laser tag parties would start at $350 for a two-hour, 10-player party, with a price of $600 for a four hour, 20-player party.
Justice Louisa Evans suggested speaking to the planning board to ask in what zone such a facility could be located.
Russell said he would refer the proposal to the planning board for their input and evaluation on such recreational types of uses in town.