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Letter: Former Alive After Five Coordinator On Proposed Changes

Mindy Skura, owner of Remember Yesteryears, discusses the proposed changes of the festival she formally organized.

Submitted by Mindy Skura, owner of Remember Yesteryears.

As the former Alive After Five Coordinator for eight years, and past Patchogue Chamber President, I would like to comment on the controversy of Alive After Five and correct many of the misnomers written by those who have not attended this Event for the past few years.

AA5 had become one of the Chambers major sources of income, besides Membership dues. While the Chamber's committees all have their own fund raising events- they are minimal in profit, and that money is used for that committee to function for that year. The Chamber was able to utilize the monies raised from AA5 to grow (ie: help purchase patchogue.com and new computers) and supplement some of their yearly base expenses- like the executive director's salary.

For those who haven't attended recently- you were missing a really fun evening. With the cooperation of the Village and the Fifth Precinct, I changed AA5 to accommodate EVERY age group. Advertising was on radio stations geared to families and 30+ year-olds. You could walk up and down Main Street and S. Ocean Avenue, shop at the local merchants or 100 visiting vendors, eat outside or indoors, the children could go on rides, play games or have their faces painted- all while listening to live music- from rock to blues. The beer gardens were barricaded for those who wished to consume alcohol- no one was allowed in without ID- and no one was allowed out with a drink in hand.

There were 35 PSI private security guards (who were all phenomenal) stationed throughout the event, making sure children under 18 were accompanied by a parent and any issues that occurred were resolved immediately. The Fifth Precinct had a presence both inside and outside the event (thank you to Cope and the Inspector). The Village Code did a great job of blocking the entrances and exits, and ensured traffic flow. All three groups worked together fluidly, and there were no major situations due to this cooperation the past few years.

AA5 was initially developed to bring recognition to Patchogue and the Chamber's members. As the economy changed, so did the membership base. The fact that Patchogue installed a sewer system, gave way for the influx of restaurants and bars- and less retail and more service businesses.

Yes, AA5 mostly benefits the local restaurants. But these restaurants are also the main reason it survived. Without their financial support, AA5 cannot be sustained profitably.

It's existence also trickled down to help all of the business owners in Patchogue- both in the Village and on the outskirts.  I, as a retail store owner in town, would hear repeatedly from customers that they found us because they were at AA5, but were with friends or didn't wish to carry packages around, so they returned on another day to shop and explore Patchogue. There is no amount of advertising dollars that I can spend that will showcase my business to the thousands of people that attend this event.

I am no longer involved with the Chamber or chair this event. The board, while all wonderful people, in my opinion, do not grasp the Chamber is a business, and needs to be managed like one. I understand both the Village's and Fifth Precinct's reasons for changing the night. Their involvement is crucial to make AA5 work. But if this event is not in the black, or ceases to exist, the Chamber will once again be scrambling to stay at the break even line. I am not sure if they understand this reality. Every space available needs to be maximized for profitability- this is how the bills get paid.

Unfortunately, the restaurants, who support this event, cannot afford to pay for the bands and rent outside space for the dollar amount needed by the Chamber to be profitable, without the allowance of alcohol in their barricaded areas. Food service just doesn't reap the profit margin necessary for the restaurants to hire additional servers, pay for rent, security and the bands. And the Chamber needs dedicated volunteers all evening willing to run around the streets overseeing the 35 private security guards, the crowd control at the restaurants and bands, and helping the 100 vendors set up and break down to make the flow acceptable- something they never had to deal with, as I handled those aspects.

I personally, would have asked for Sunday if I was at the meeting that discussed the change or had been asked by those now trying to run AA5. It's a slow day in the Village- a perfect opportunity for Patchogue. The afternoon could have been devoted to families- and from 6 p.m.-8:45 p.m. the bands could play. Main Street would be open again at 10 p.m. Parking spaces are available. The same reason as the switch to Thursday could have been employed- Monday is a work day.

For those residents who despise this event, remember one thing when your tax bill arrives. If all our businesses fronts in the Village are full, it brings up your property values, as well as sustains your tax base. Turn a negative into a positive. The inconvenience of a few hours four times a year, is worth the financial benefits you will reap when you decide to sell your homes!! Plus, you have the opportunity to enjoy a free evening out with your family and friends, eat, listen to your favorite local bands, and to Discover Patchogue...

Lee February 21, 2013 at 05:40 PM
I like the idea of having AA5 on Sunday. It seems like a good weekend destination for people and it still forces them to drink moderately since it is a work night. Once again, in the introduction to this article, the word "formally" was used instead of "formerly". The word "former" means "before". The word "formal" means "elegant". This is not the first time that I have seen this mistake by Patch.
Robert Beck February 21, 2013 at 06:57 PM
This was one of Ms. Skura's more rambling, self-promoting letters in an entire portfolio of rambling, self-promoting letters and posts. While I'm not sure that Thursdays will work out, let's not forget who this letter just came from. The former Chamber president who was party to a lawsuit against the village that tried to STRANGLE growth on Main Street. The former Chamber president who used her position to prevent new businesses from opening in the village (remember the Flo's debacle a while back?). The former Chamber president who is on record on this site saying that the money from AA5 belonged to her. There's no wonder she was forced out of the position. And this letter is just sour grapes. While she tries to frame it as a concerned citizen thinking the change of date is wrong, she makes sure to say that the current board doesn't grasp "business," that if she were president this wouldn't have happened, etc. Gimme a break, Mindy.
Mindy February 22, 2013 at 03:17 AM
Robert, You have a right to your opinion. But please, when you make accusations as to my stance on an issue, fact check your responses. I am a party to the Tritec Suit for two reasons only- I don't believe apartments are the correct venue for Main Street, and we already have a major problem with parking. The 4 Corners are directly in the middle of Patchogue Village's downtown. The old Swezeys location should be a focal point for the Businesses that surround it- and a draw to bring outsiders in. A Hotel, Museum or another Department Store- something that is business oriented. Flo's was never officially vetoed by myself or the Chamber. Some of our Members were upset with a portable food establishment- who would charge less for their menu items- because they did not have to pay a high rent, utilities, and all the other expenses then a physical location owner does. Others did not want to set a precedent- and have portable businesses appearing throughout the Village. I indicated that Flos would work best down by Shorefront Park or the pool. My VP Mike Bruemmer stood at the last Planning meeting about Flos, and clearly put in the record that the Chamber had not taken a stance, after our Ex Dir, had personally denounced it.
Mindy February 22, 2013 at 03:17 AM
When I became President of the Chamber, one of the first things I did was change the Bylaws. I recommended that all Committee monies be considered as part of the Chambers general fund-including "MY AA5" where they could be utilized for expenses that came up and were not initially budgeted for. The only Committee that had money to utilize by the Chamber WAS AA5. And in ending, I was not Forced out of my Presidency with the Chamber. I walked away because the Boards vision for the future was different then my own. They were content staying status quo. I believe in progress and growth. There is not one ounce of sour grapes. I spent years building up Alive After Five because I wished to see Patchogue prosper- at the expense of my own business. And now I see AA5's future is at risk- because some of those working on it don't understand it's dynamics. I am proud to say that I helped make Alive After Five synonymous with Patchogue! Mindy Skura
Joseph Adriano February 22, 2013 at 03:32 PM
I think it is not Mindy but the Apartments themselves that will STRANGLE growth on Main Street. Do you know how many tickets are being written currently for public urination, intoxication and disorderly conduct in the Village? Just wait until you have the tenants from 300 apartments on Main Street in the mix and you have domestic disturbances and dirty laundry on top of street fights and noise. Bring on Honey Boo Boo.

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