An email thread dating back to May 18 asked Southampton Village officials Richard Yastrzemski, Jesse Warren and Russell Kratoville to allow us to hold classes in Agawam Park, directly across the street from our yoga studio, Hamptons Hot Yoga, because we remain closed, per Governor Andrew Cuomo’s mandates.
I was told I could attend the monthly board meeting by Mayor Warren. Arriving at a locked Village Hall, with “social distance” signs for our park classes in hand and a plan to propose to the board, I was then told the meeting was remote. And when I asked, “How do I join?” I got no return message.
Further messages from the mayor said, “Russell did not put the request on the agenda.”
So now, two months into my request and summer business quickly slipping away, the business that is required for small businesses like mine in the Hamptons to survive and maintain a brick-and-mortar, year-round presence — and a blasé “We couldn’t be bothered with you” from the Village Board.
It may be that my small business, which I’ve operated for 17 years in the Hamptons, offering a service to the year-round and summer communities, does not matter to this group of people. Or maybe they don’t understand that the practice of yoga brings a great balance to people’s lives, something that is needed now more than ever. Or maybe I don’t fit the bill for the Southampton elite, being a simple working-class woman.
Or maybe they don’t realize that four months with no revenue and no idea of when we may be able to reopen is not a formula where any small business is expected to survive — having poured everything into maintaining the building, payroll, overhead, as well as air cleaners, COVID-19-compliant signage, disinfectant, etc., with the promise of phase four reopening, now retracted.
Clearly, they are on top of creating events that benefit their businesses, closing down streets, increasing foot traffic and attracting more business through their doors. My simple request to hold some yoga classes in the park goes unaddressed, and I cannot fathom what the concerns would be.
There are stationary bikes right next to the highway in Southampton Town; parks across the country have fitness and yoga classes happily occupying them. Fitness and wellness businesses are trying to pivot and adjust so they can continue to serve their members and avoid their businesses failing.
The park is an asset that is largely being unused, when in years past there have been many events, concerts and festivities there.
What harm could some people practicing yoga do that the Village Board cannot even entertain the conversation? Or be bothered to reply to my many emails?
I’m frustrated and disheartened.
Hamptons Hot Yoga
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