Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto presented a citation to Greg Koke for serving as president of the chamber for two terms. The new officers of the chamber are, from the left: Vice President Les Marbles of Pine Island Etch; Treasurer Susan Manno of Marine Midland; (Mr. Koke and Mr. Venditto); President Karen DeVine-Minicozzi of DeVine Funeral Home and Tom Kuehhas, director of the Oyster Bay Historical Society - the editor of The Freeholder.
Karen DeVine-Minicozzi was given the oath of office by Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto. He said that now, the town and the chamber are working together. As proof of that, he arranged for the hamlet to receive five attractive metal refuse containers. One is in front of the chamber office at 120 South Street.
He mentioned the streets being cleaned twice a week and said they had a "partnership" and thanked retiring president Greg Koke and Executive Director Kathy Wilson for working with him.
Karen DeVine-Minicozzi gave a rousing speech welcoming new board members Jerritt Gluck and Rebecca Rhodes-Weinreich for coming in with great ideas and enthusiasm. She thanked retiring board members Ed Coblens and Michael Corssen for all the service they gave the chamber. She said it was time to work on immediate and long-term goals.
She said she heard Daria Lamb speak as a guest at Rotary of Oyster Bay and said "I wish she and her husband will become a part of the chamber. They have great ideas."
At the Homestead Restaurant, she said she met a former chamber member who said when asked to join, "I can't be bothered." She said, "If you can't be bothered, we're not going to get anywhere.
"Let's get together and do the community some good!"
She recalled the way they got the garbage cans. Three weeks ago Marie Knight called and said the town might have some garbage cans for them. Tom and Kathy made a few phone calls and now they were thanking John Venditto.
Rebecca said some were chipped and offered to paint them. Mr. Venditto said "I've got the paint."
That's how it works. This is a start of how the chamber will work, said Karen.
For information on how you can get involved with the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce, call 922-6808. Please read next week's Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot for more chamber news.
The 1999 Oyster Festival is already being planned. Karen DeVine Minicozzi, owner/director of the DeVine Funeral Home, Inc. and Scott Davis of Oyster Bay Dodge are the co-chairs of the event. Meetings have already begun and the Arts and Crafts letters have already been sent out. Mel Warren of East Norwich and Kathy Wilson, executive director of the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce are the co-chairs of the group.
Each year there are changes and this year, Karen said, "We will be keeping Audrey Avenue and West Main Street closed this year." The vendors will not have to break down on Saturday night. There will be security hired to see that the area is safe.
She said the resolution from the town board always has said the roads are closed from 6 a.m. Saturday morning to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
They won't have to break down their booths, which Mel Warren, said would attract some of the better crafts people.
They will not have to take down their tents and display cases on Saturday night and put them up again on Sunday. They will just take away their goods - the jewelry and crafts, on Saturday evening. Heavy furniture may be left, said Kathy Wilson.
"It may be a total disaster and then we'll go back to doing it the old way," Karen said.
She said her original idea was to move the Arts and Crafts to behind town hall until she checked with former festival chairs who said, "Been there - done that." They remembered it as not working. The area became a bottle-neck as people entered and left the crafts area through the same driveway on Audrey Avenue.
The cost for the booths was $150 last year; this year it will be $175 to add the cost of the extra security. In addition if they want a corner booth, they pay an additional $25, said Ms. Wilson.
Karen is looking into the security arrangements.
New board member Jerritt Gluck asked if the residents of Shore and Maxwell Avenues and West Main Street will be able to access their homes.
They will, she said and so will the fire departments have access. "I lost a couple of nights sleep thinking about this before we sent the letters out," she said.
The committee will meet with the radio stations and Newsday to plan for publicity for the festival. She thanked Kathy Wilson for creating the great publicity packages that went out to sponsors last year, and will this year too.
"Scott will be great to work with this year," said Karen. She said the hardest thing for her last year was negotiating with people. Her industry is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and prohibits negotiating.
Scott is a car salesperson and is used to negotiating and will be great to have on the team, she said.
There are some difficult issues that keep popping up at the festivals, which include: stores renting their space to out-of-town businesses when according the festival rules that kind of vendor has to pay a sponsor fee; stores selling merchandise not from their business; businesses taking a free ride on the festival which is the result of the work of chamber members and the sale of Silly String which lasts on the streets longer than the memory of the festival.
At the meeting someone asked if some shops will be closed for the festival. Karen said, "We don't close shops, we want shops to be open. We want people to show their goods." She said shops that close do so by choice.
Last year one of the complaints from businesses out of the area of the festival, was that they can't directly benefit from the crowds, she said. "We are looking at ways to include them." She said they may have a merchants area where they can show their goods so that everyone can feel part of the Oyster Festival.
Les Marbles, chamber vice president had tried to reach out to some of the people who were not happy with the festival. He said, "Last year there were some people who really got bent out of shape. Last week I went out and gave out free dinner passes to the meeting to have those people come and air their views." They didn't come.
He said, they wanted to complain but didn't want to do it in public. "They preferred Complainers Anonymous," someone quipped.
They had an option to come free of charge to the dinner, and to speak up, he said. They were no-shows.
Last year when they had a merchants meeting about two months before the festival, only five showed up, said Karen.
She said one of the things they are considering, and she stressed considering, is that a merchant has to be a member of the chamber to put something out on the streets - to participate in the festival. They should have to pay their dues, to take part in the festival crowds, because the chamber works very hard, and spends a lot of time and money supporting the festival.
Chamber members start working now to plan for the event, to get sponsors to cover costs for things like transporting crowds by bus to the area; getting port-a-potties; paying for refuse removal; paying for the streets to be cleaned.
"If you want to beat the system, there is always someone out there who tries," she said.
Merchants should only sell a product they regularly carry. Someone commented that one store sold Beanie Babies at the festival although it is a service business, but that it now sells them inside the store on a regular basis.
Karen said "We will sit down and work out all these things. We don't know exactly where we are going. We have to sit down with the police and work out our rules."
She gave an example of the rules working for the chamber. Last year's sound system company from East Norwich just appeared on the street. It had brought in a truck from California to use at the festival. They ended up paying $2,500, to be a festival sponsor and were allowed to stay on the street. (The festival rules say it is for people in the 11771 zip code area only.) He will be a sponsor next year, she said. "We have to make our rules and stick to them."
Karen said, "It's really hard. You're stressed out. You're tired and you have to fight with these people. Sometimes it takes all you've got.
"We want everyone to cooperate," she said. Last year they had a merchants meeting to try to work out the glitches, but attendance was very poor.
Still, they will be trying again, and as she said earlier, if things don't work one way, they will try to fix it for the next Oyster Festival.