05/05/15 3:29pm
05/05/2015 3:29 PM
Greenport Mayor George Hubbard shakes hands with Judi Kilachand, executive director of the Friends of Hermione-LaFayette in America. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Greenport Mayor George Hubbard shakes hands with Judi Kilachand, executive director of the Friends of Hermione-LaFayette in America. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Greenport’s Tall Ships Challenge is back — and now officially bigger than ever.

Village leaders, other local politicians and businesspeople kicked off the hype for the upcoming event Tuesday afternoon, officially announcing the six ships that will dock in the village’s harbor this Fourth of July.

Among them is the Hermoine, a historical replica ship modeled after the vessel used by the Marquis de Lafayette in the Revolutionary War.

That ship, which just left France en route to America for its summer tour, is a new addition to the event. Other ships include Kalmar Nyckel, Lynx, Picton Castle, AJ Meerwald and the NRP Sangres III.

The festival will be held from July 4 through 7.

Tickets are now available online and are being offered at a discounted price until June 22.

In a press conference Tuesday, Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard touted the benefits of the upcoming four-day festival.

“We’re real excited about the whole program,” Mr. Hubbard said. “Greenport is ideal for this kind of thing and it’s really nice to be having these ships come back and join us.”

Mr. Hubbard thanked the village’s Business Improvement District — which has committed to raising more than $100,000 for the event — as well as the Tall Ships planning committee and, specifically, former mayor David Nyce.

Mr. Hubbard said the village expects to have between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors for each day of the festival.

County Executive Steve Bellone called Greenport a model for how other downtown areas across Suffolk County can “redefine and reinvent” themselves.

“Greenport is a really important place for us,” Mr. Bellone said. “It’s a wonderful historic maritime community.”

Mr. Bellone didn’t attend the last Tall Ships event in Greenport (he later remarked that his son had just been born at the time). But this year, Mr. Bellone said he won’t miss the festival.

“I’m looking forward to bringing my kids here,” he said.

To help accommodate the flood of tourists, the Long Island Railroad has agreed to run extra trains out to Greenport. Mr. Bellone said the county is exploring other ways to increase public transit.

The event will be a chance to showcase Greenport, the “crown jewel of the East End,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.

Peter Clarke, the Greenport BID president, said the organization has already raised more than $70,000 of its more than $100,000 sponsorship goal.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to promote Greenport beyond New York State,” he said.

The sponsors for the event so far include Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., WABC-TV, Eastern Long Island Hospital, Newsday and Peconic Landing. The Suffolk Times is also sponsoring the event.

“This event showcases the beauty and culture that Greenport has to offer, putting its deep maritime history on display,” said Peconic Landing CEO Robert Syron. “We welcome visitors to come see what makes living on the North Fork so distinct.”

The press conference also featured a speech from Judi Kilachand, executive director of the Friends of Hermione-LaFayette in America, a nonprofit group that constructed the replica.

Ms. Kilachand said Greenport was a “beautiful” location to host the Hermione, symbolically reaffirming a “longtime friendship between France and the United States.”

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04/27/15 11:32am
04/27/2015 11:32 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A long line to board one of the ships at this year's Tall Ships of America event.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Visitors wait to board one of the ships at the Tall Ships of America event in Greenport three years ago.

The Greenport Business Improvement District has raised nearly three quarters of its “ambitious” $100,000 sponsorship goal for the village’s Tall Ships event coming this July, a village board report shows.

According to the Tall Ships overview report posted to the village website, the BID has secured $73,500 in sponsorship deals as of Friday.

The report doesn’t list specifically which businesses had provided the sponsorships. (more…)

11/14/14 8:00am
11/14/2014 8:00 AM
TK TK (Credit: Hermione Voyage's Facebook page)

The Hermione is scheduled to visit Greenport on July 6. (Credit: Hermione Voyage’s Facebook page)

The Hermione, a handmade replica of French general Marquis de Lafayette’s 18th century frigate, is expected to draw international attention at this summer’s Tall Ships event as it sails its maiden voyage from France to the United States.

And one of ship’s stops this Fourth of July weekend is Greenport.


03/17/14 10:05pm
03/17/2014 10:05 PM
Tall ships like these could be heading up the East Coast to Greenport in 2015. (Credit: Courtesy Tall Ships America)

Tall ships like these could be heading up the East Coast to Greenport in 2015. (Credit: Courtesy Tall Ships America)

Greenport Village officials are looking into partnering with New London, Conn. to participate in the 2015 Tall Ships Challenge.


08/27/13 12:00pm
08/27/2013 12:00 PM

FILE PHOTO | Village board members welcome the idea of bringing Tall Ships back to Greenport Harbor.

The Greenport Village Board voted Monday to bring back the Tall Ships Challenge to Greenport Harbor in 2015.

In a unanimous vote during its regular session Monday, members agreed to submit a formal request for proposal to Tall Ships of America, indicating its interest in returning to the village.

Last year, the ships drew more than 60,000 people when they ported in the village during The Tall Ships Challenge 2012 tour. Mayor David Nyce has said the village made about $20,000 above the $190,000 it cost to host it and said Monday it will not cost taxpayers a penny to host again.

“I think the resolution is great,” Business Improvement District president Peter Clarke said Tuesday morning. “We look forward to making it bigger and better than 2012.”

Tall Ships of America did not provide any schedule for the 2015 tour, however, more details on the event are expected to be provided to the village in the coming weeks, Mr. Nyce said.

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08/21/13 10:00am
08/21/2013 10:00 AM

FILE PHOTO | The Tall Ships Challenge could be returning to Greenport in 2015.

The Tall Ships Challenge could be returning to Greenport Harbor in 2015.

During Village Board work session Tuesday night, Mayor David Nyce said he received a letter from the Tall Ships of America indicating interest in returning to the village.

The ships drew more than 60,000 people when they ported in the village last year during The Tall Ships Challenge 2012 tour. Mr. Nyce has said the village made about $20,000 above the $190,000 it cost to host it.

Tall Ships of America did not provide any schedule for the 2015 tour, however, more details on the event are expected to be provided to the village in the coming weeks, Mr. Nyce said.

The village needs to respond with a request for proposal by next month, he added.

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12/24/12 7:51am
12/24/2012 7:51 AM

PETER BOODY FILE PHOTO | The Tall Ships in Greenport Harbor from an aerial view Sunday.

About 60,000 people visited Greenport this Memorial Day weekend to see the seven vessels that sailed to the village as part of the Tall Ships of America.

Greenport was just one of the stops during The Tall Ships Challenge 2012 tour, a race that began in Savannah, Ga., and finished in Halifax, Novia Scotia.

Among the visiting ships was the H.M.S. Bounty, Greenport’s own tall ship, which was lost off the coast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., during Superstorm Sandy.

At the Memorial Day weekend event, families watched in awe as the monstrous ships sailed in to port, making yachts look like mere toy boats in comparison, as others shopped, ate and enjoyed live music.

The event was a financial success, according to Greenport Mayor David Nyce, who said the village made about $20,000 above the $190,000 it cost to hose it.

“We definitely did better than break even,” Mr. Nyce said of the three-day event, which cost the village an estimated $190,000, according to an earlier report by The Suffolk Times.

The Long Island Rail Road also extended their services to Greenport for the event, helping ease vehicular traffic to the area, although cars parking too close to a pocket track led to some transportation hiccoughs Sunday afternoon.

Despite the small setbacks, Greenport Mayor David Nyce said he considered the event a success.

“Everyone really seemed happy,” David Nyce told a Suffolk Times reporter. “They were calm, polite and they spent money. It was a great way to showcase the village, and that’s exactly what we set out to do.”

Controversy stirred about the event months afterward when a redacted report edited out  how much money was donated to the village by event sponsors, but the full report has since been released.


12/12/12 3:36pm
12/12/2012 3:36 PM

If you missed the premiere of the Weather Channel special about the United States Coast Guard’s rescue of the crew of the H.M.S. Bounty during Superstorm Sandy, get ready for it to replay again tonight at 8 p.m. 

The show takes viewers “into the heart of the storm with Coast Guard helicopters, racing against time” to rescue the crew of the tall ship, which sunk 90 miles offshore of Cape Hatteras, N.C. The Bounty, which counted Greenport among its home ports, visited the harbor during last summer’s tall ships event.

HMS Bounty was inspired by the original Bounty, a royal British naval vessel best known for the 1789 mutiny led by Fletcher Christian and several others. The mutiny ended badly for commanding officer William Bligh and those loyal to him, who were set afloat in a small boat in the South Pacific 1,300 miles west of Tahiti.

Aside from captain Robin Walbridge, who sunk along with the Bounty, crew member Claudene Christian, who claimed ancestry to the famous Fletcher Christian, also perished as a result of the incident.

H.M.S. Bounty was built in Nova Scotia in 1960 for the 1962 movie “Mutiny on the Bounty,” starring Marlon Brando, and afterward traveled the seas as a teaching vessel.

The ship called St. Petersburg, Fla., home as a tourist attraction until MGM studios sold its film library, and the Bounty, to Ted Turner in 1986. During Mr. Turner’s ownership the ship appeared in the Charlton Heston film “Treasure Island” in 1989.

In 1993 Mr. Turner donated the Bounty to the Fall River Chamber Foundation in Massachusetts. That group sold the Bounty in 2001 to the HMS Bounty Organization, which operates sail training programs, an at-sea summer camp and dockside education program.

HMS Bounty also appeared in several documentaries and made an appearance as the Edinburgh trader in the 2006 film “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” with Johnny Depp.

For more information about tonight’s special on the Weather Channel, including Coast Guard video of the rescue,  click here:


11/29/12 10:00am
11/29/2012 10:00 AM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | A long line to board one of the ships at this year’s Tall Ships of America event.

Only weeks after a state official said the information must be made public, Greenport Village blacked out large sections of a report detailing donations and expenses connected with the tall ships visit in the spring.

Bob Freeman, director of the state’s Committee on Open Government, who gave a public presentation in Greenport last month about Freedom of Information laws, confirmed last week that the village had wrongfully redacted, meaning removed, sponsors’ names in its response to a recent FOIL request seeking information about who donated to the event this past Memorial Day.

Mayor David Nyce said the documents were redacted because confidentiality agreements had been made after some sponsors expressed concern about having the amount they planned to donate revealed publicly. He declined to name the specific organizations that expressed concern.The issue prompted a heated exchange between the mayor and some of his most persistent critics during the Village Board’s regular meeting Monday night as Mr. Nyce talked about the redacted documents released to a resident earlier this month.

Mr. Nyce said the village always intended to keep a record detailing how it financed the Tall Ships Challenge because no such document was available when it planned the event, which brought in about 60,000 visitors. He said the document could be used as road map for future administrations if they wanted to organize a similar event of that size.

Mr. Nyce said that after some businesses expressed concern about disclosure, he sought legal advice from village attorney Joe Prokop to determine if the village could keep donation information confidential.

“At that point, the answer I was given was yes, that would be acceptable,” Mr. Nyce said. “We were also under the impression that a draft document of confidential nature within the treasurer’s office was acceptable and not open to FOIL.”

But after Mr. Freeman’s presentation, Mr. Nyce said it was “made very clear” that the document was subject to the FOIL rules. Nonetheless, the village still believed it could redact the sponsors’ names to protect the businesses, even though most event sponsors were listed in advertising published after it took place. The mayor had a subsequent conversation with Mr. Freeman about the redactions after he was questioned by The Suffolk Times, which received a copy of the censored report through a FOIL request.

“Mr. Freeman told me that had we redacted the individual amounts, that document might have been acceptable,” Mr. Nyce said. “Somebody that contributed may be damaged by the information. They may not. They may also decide not to contribute next time and that’s what we were trying to avoid.”

Greenport resident John Saladino stood up during the meeting and interrupted the mayor by criticizing his reasoning in withholding the information.

After he was repeatedly asked to explain how businesses would be damaged by the information, the mayor asked Mr. Saladino to leave. He did, along with former trustee Bill Swiskey who said, “Good luck with your clown act, Mr. Mayor.” After the meeting Mr. Nyce said, “The fact that they don’t like my explanation doesn’t make it untrue.”

For several months, Mr. Swiskey has requested details about how the Tall Ships Challenge was financed because he doesn’t believe the village turned a profit of nearly $20,000 from the event, as it has claimed. Mr. Swiskey said the village should have been more forthcoming about how they financed the event because he believes “no one expected them to make money.”

“You do it to promote the village,” Mr. Swiskey said in a telephone interview last week. “I’ve been to all of the tall ships [events] and the village took a beating on every one of them.”

Even though the village had published a summary report last summer showing how the tall ships event was financed, he continued to seek a line-by-line accounting of all expenses and revenues.

Mr. Swiskey submitted a FOIL request on Sept. 28 seeking the full report and said village clerk Sylvia Pirillo emailed him the next day stating that the document didn’t exist. After appealing her decision, Mr. Swiskey said he received a letter from the village attorney on Oct. 11 stating that Ms. Pirillo had “properly” denied his request because “no records exist in the village offices” that were “responsive” to his request.

About a week after Mr. Freeman’s presentation, Mr. Swiskey said, he submitted a new FOIL request specifically seeking “any records held in the treasurer’s office pertaining to donations to the tall ships event.” He received the redacted report on Nov. 7 and sent a copy of it to The Suffolk Times, which then issued its own FOIL request to confirm its validity.

“First they said no documents existed and denied my appeal,” Mr. Swiskey said. “Suddenly they exist in the treasurer’s office and are redacted … This doesn’t seem to fit what Mr. Freeman said that night.”

Mr. Freeman said the mayor had told him he believed the sponsors would not have made such large contributions if the public knew the amounts for fear that others would come to them looking for similar donations.

Based upon a conversation with the mayor last week, Mr. Freeman said he believed there’s “only one exception that might conceivably apply” to withholding the information and described it as a “rare circumstance.”

That one exception, according to Mr. Freeman, allows a municipality to withhold information that would cause “substantial injury to the competitive position of a commercial enterprise.”

“I’m not in a position to guess which companies would fall into that category,” he said, “but that would be the only exception, in my opinion, that might conceivably apply.”

Mr. Freeman said the state’s Court of Appeals has dealt with such claims and found that a company would have to demonstrate how disclosure would cause substantial injury because “speculation is not good enough.”

Since the mayor talked with Mr. Freeman, the village has agreed to release the full document. It includes all of the sponsor names, as well as some administrative, printing and promotion details that were initially redacted.

The complete report shows an expenditure of $2,464.58 next to Mr. Prokop’s name and other expenditures involving Reflective Image, Academy Printing, East End Sport, Peconic Signs, Preston’s, Island Portable, North Fork Sanitation and Platinum Security — all of which had previously been redacted.

The unexpurgated version also shows that event’s top sponsors were Phillip Ross Industries and Hawkeye Energy Greenport, which each donated $10,000. Peconic Landing and Eastern Long Island Hospital donated $8,000 each and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company gave $7,500.

ELIH spokeswoman Eileen Solomon said the funds the hospital donated came from its marketing budget and she believed the Tall Ships Challenge was a promotional success.

“It was a way to market and bring awareness to the hospital,” she said. “No regrets.”

Peconic Landing president Robert Syron said his organization was glad to partner with the hospital in sponsoring the event.

“We thought it was a great way to support the village and thought it was well worth it,” Mr. Syron said. “We were proud to support it and if we are financially able to we’d support it again.”

The report also showed that Don Higgins Realty, Newsday and Bridgehampton National Bank donated $5,000 each. The rest of the sponsors include Hampton Jitney, Dvirka & Bartilucci Engineers, Capital One, Lamb & Barnosky, North Fork Chamber of Commerce, Grady White, Port of Egypt, Genesys Engineering, Eldor, Cameron Engineering and the Greenporter Hotel.

Greenporter Hotel owner Deborah Rivera Pittorino said she decided to become a Tall Ships Challenge sponsor because she believes in supporting the community’s maritime charm.

“At the Greenporter, we’re not just selling the hotel, we’re selling a destination,” she said. “I thought [the event] was a good idea and it turned out to be very successful.”

Ms. Pittorino, along with officials at ELIH and Peconic Landing, told The Suffolk Times they didn’t believe releasing the donation amounts would be detrimental to their businesses. Other top sponsors did not return phone calls seeking comment.

While Mr. Nyce acknowledged the village made a mistake in handling the situation, he believed the only end result of releasing the full report is “possibly some harm to some businesses.”

“It doesn’t change the amount of money that was taken in nor the money that was spent,” Mr. Nyce said. “Those numbers remain the same and we still ended up having a wildly successful event, probably the most successful event that this village has done.”

Scroll down to view the report.

Editor’s note: Times/Review Newsgroup, which publishes The Suffolk Times, gave an in-kind donation of $10,000 for the Tall Ships Challenge. 

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Greenport Village’s Tall Ships Full Report

Greenport Village’s Tall Ships Redacted Report