Scooters get ready to roll in Greenport

05/06/2010 12:00 AM |

Greenport could well be on its way to having its first scooter rental business if Planning Board members approve an application from Bruce Garritano at tonight’s meeting.

Mr. Garritano appeared at the Planning Board’s April 29 work session to propose a scooter and bicycle rental shop that would operate at 124 Front St., with much of its activity taking place behind the store in an enclosed area on Adams Street.

New Planning Board president Lara McNeil — who took the helm after Penny Coyle stepped down after more than 30 years of service to the village — told Mr. Garritano she’d often thought it would be a good business for the village. But she and other board members did have a few safety concerns.

Mr. Garritano said riders are taught how to accelerate and brake, but that no other training goes into renting the scooters, which he described as “Vespa knockoffs.” Renters will also be given safety pamphlets and, in line with New York State law, be required to wear helmets. Riders must have valid driver’s licenses and be at least 18 years old, Mr. Garritano said.

The scooters travel at a top speed of about 30 mph, which in New York State exempts drivers from any requirement to have a special license to operate them. Mr. Garritano plans to purchase 15 new ones, which he hoped would minimize the repair work that might need to be done on site. He said he would storeonly five to 10 gallons of gasoline at the site, opting to run the scooters to a local service station for fill-ups. He said he would lean toward multiple-day rentals.

Mr. Garritano said he planned to operate the business seasonally “on sunny days” through about Oct. 31 and that he hoped to get the shop rolling about two weeks after he gains approval. That’s the time it will take to get the scooters ordered and delivered, he said, explaining that he doesn’t want to make the investment until he knows he has board approval.

If police and Mr. Garritano’s insurance company are satisfied with the arrangements, the village shouldn’t impose any other restrictions on the business, board members agreed.

“My only concern is inexperienced riders,” Southold Police Capt. Martin Flatley said. But as long as people have their driver’s licenses and wear helmets, he said, he doesn’t see any problem with the village allowing a scooter rental business to operate.