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Bethlehem mulls expanding concession sales

Town sends request for information to area businesses

The Town of Bethlehem has reached out to local businesses in hopes of expanding vending options at its parks and other properties.

The town distributed a request for information to at least 25 people and companies this past week in hopes of soliciting ideas. The concept was born out of last year's budget process when it was said the town needs more non-tax revenue, said Councilman Mark Hennessey, who spearheaded the proposal along with Councilman Mark Jordan and Parks and Recreation Department Director Nan Lanahan.

I remember sitting around budget time and saying, why don't we go out there and do something that we never have before? Hennessey said.

Right now, the town rents space at the Elm Avenue Park Pool Complex for a vending operation run by Thomas Rowlands of Ellisson Enterprises. That agreement nets the town $5,400 without costing hardly anything, said Lanahan.

"In certain businesses, it's nice to have an outside vendor concession, because they know their business and we don't know their business," Lanahan said.

That's really the only formal example of a private-public vending partnership, though. With all the pocket parks, passive recreation areas and seasonal activities that are popular in town, the thought is the pool could be the tip of the iceberg.

"There's so many different people out there that provide the kinds of services that are anticipated under the RFI," Hennessey said. "I think you can get a better class of service out there."

Though Elm Avenue is the largest of the town's parkland facilities, the RFI suggests there could be plenty of other opportunities out there. Possibilities include skate rentals at the Elm Avenue ice skating rink, food concessions or even a small restaurant setup at the Colonial Acres Golf Course and vending at Henry Hudson Park, which many in town government say is underutilized in general.

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