Growing controversy over Staten Island hot dog vendor fighting to keep spot truck had for decades

Nina Pineda Image
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Growing controversy over hot dog vendor fighting to keep spot her truck has had for decades
Dawn LaVigne's grandpa 'Skippy' started selling on Staten Island 60 years ago in the same space on Hylan Boulevard. Nina Pineda and 7 On Your Side have more.

STATEN ISLAND (WABC) -- They line up for the dogs, but it's really Dawn they are coming to see.

Dawn LaVigne's grandpa 'Skippy' started selling on Staten Island 60 years ago in the same space on Hylan Boulevard.

Recently, a gateway to the Bluebelt Project to manage flooding - constructed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy's washout - displaced the food truck out of its grassy spot and hit a sour note her regulars don't relish at all.

"They usurped her so they could do all this wonderful stuff we took for granted, when they were finished she could return," said Skippy's customer Lilian Withers.

The park transformed into a habitat for wildlife and greenspace for residents, protected by poles - not just where the Skippy truck parked, but all around the $121 million taxpayer-funded project.

"I feel like they did it to stop me going up there," said LaVigne.

The City Department of Environmental Protection says it put up these permanent billboards to prevent vehicles from driving onto walkways, and into pedestrians and to safeguard drainage infrastructure all carefully designed with climate change in mind to mitigate property damage.

The DEP also said it offered signage directing customers to a few other spots for Skippy's truck in South Beach and further up the boulevard, but LaVigne does not find them doable for her dogs - and admits not even working with the agency on alternatives.

According the the city, Skippy's has no NYC Health permits for her truck, plus her food service license expired in 2014 - operating without required state or city permits for vendors.

LaVigne hopes to get her permits and find a new permanent home for her truck soon, but city agencies can't help any further until she gets compliant with the law.

The DEP released a statement saying,

The installation of bollards is standard construction practice at all Bluebelts. The bollards are permanent and are intended to protect pedestrians and safeguard the $121 million taxpayer-funded infrastructure. Bluebelts are not parking lots and the plazas were not designed to hold vehicles parked on them daily. If the pavers are damaged, it is taxpayers who get will stuck with the bill to fix them.

Bluebelts are designed for stormwater management - they reduce stormwater flooding and fortify communities against extreme weather brought about by climate change. They also provide beautiful open green space for residents, create diverse habitats for wildlife, and are an integral part of DEP's drainage infrastructure on Staten Island. These ecologically-rich streams, ponds and wetlands have been carefully selected by engineers to be enhanced in order to move, filter and store rainwater from the surrounding neighborhoods.

DEP is committed to implementing innovative solutions to protect New Yorkers from climate change. On Staten Island alone, DEP is investing almost $2 billion in drinking water, sewage and drainage infrastructure, such as our award-winning network of Bluebelts.

Here is a summary of recent work on Staten Island:

* 28 projects completed within last 5 years (FY17-FY21) worth over $561 million

* 56 projects in construction worth over $167 million

* 23 projects in design worth over $511 million

* 24 projects in development worth over $479 million

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