At the East Hampton Village Trustee meeting, held via Zoom June 4, Deputy Mayor Barbara Borsack detailed plans to assist businesses in reopening, including the formation of two committees, one for commercial businesses and one for restaurants.
The restaurant committee is headed by Trustees Rose Brown and Ray Harden. The general business reopening committee is charired by Mayor Richard Lawler and Borsack.
Borsack announced the village would be “relaxing code on some of the outdoor displays. Door signs will be necessary that will explain what people need to do.”
She added, “We will share a list of open businesses on the village website and our social media.”
Parking limitations will also be relaxed. She said, “No summonses will be issued at this point. And in the business district there will be “no parking zones” to create curbside pick-up areas on Main Street, Newtown Lane, and in the Reutershan parking lot. The exception will be the half hour parking on Park Place, as it does currently function as a quick pick up and drop off area for the stores nearby.” She added there would be no timed parking and handicapped parking rules will be adhered to.
Trustee Andrea Brown gave a report on the reopening of restaurants. “The village wishes to offer them outdoor seating to give them some financial relief from the losses suffered during the pandemic,” she said. Phase 2 of New York’s reopening starts on Wednesday, June 10, which is when restaurants will be able to open for outdoor dining only. In phase three they will be able to offer inside dining, with 50 percent reduced occupancy. Servers will be required to wear masks, and social distancing will be observed.
Brown also said, “Business will be responsible for cleaning their outdoor dining areas and there will be insurance considerations to be explored. We think these provisions can really give a needed boost to the restaurants and will bring people into the village to help businesses to recover. It’s also a great way to test the waters on outdoor dining, something that’s been discussed in the village for some time. We’re working on a simplified process. This is the fastest I’ve ever seen us work on a proposal of this magnitude.”
Trustee Arthur Graham responded, “This is the speed of government we really should have.”
Mayor Richard Lawler expressed the hope that “everyone knew that the board was doing the best they can, as quickly as we can to make things better for our business community.”
Lawler continued, “I can do some of these things by executive order, which I would like to do to expedite things. But it might be better to do it more long-term with an actual board vote. As long as the board is in agreement, I’ll do it by executive order to get things started, after input from the committees who represent the whole community.”
In other COVID-19 related news, East Hampton Fire Department Chief Gerard Turza Jr. announced, “In the general interest of the public safety the fire department will be cancelling the fireworks display scheduled for August 15 and 16. He expressed his regret at canceling an event that “would galvanize the community.”
In addition, at the meeting, Mayor Lawler read a statement addressing the recent demonstrations, protests, and violence in reaction to the killing of George Floyd.
“As Mayor of East Hampton Village and former law enforcement officer, I want to share with my community and the public at large, that I am both saddened and outraged at the murder of George Floyd. There is no reason, justification, or excuse that can support such a sense less and abhorrent action. I pray for justice for George Floyd and his family and friends,” he said.
“This is not a time to incite more violence and injustice, but a time to make change. From the darkness of the death of George Floyd, we must all reach inside ourselves to find a light to show us the way to compassion and understanding for all lives. I want us all to support finding meaningful and peaceful ways to elicit change and be part of process that finally produces a world where no man, woman, or child fears living.” When he finished reading his statement he mentioned the planned protest at the Hook Mill, on Sunday, June 7.
The board also voted to adopt the 2020-2021 budget. The village budget is proposed to go over the tax cap by $50,000 minus a $10,000 tax rollover from last year, bringing the overage to approximately $40,000. Looking at this year’s revenue, it was noted that revenue will be lost due to the concession at Main Beach being closed, and lack of permit and parking fee revenues.
Mayor Lawler reported the village had received an excellent Moody’s rating of AA1 allowing a savings of $160,000 due to a favorable bond refinancing.
The board wrapped up the meeting by approving the $33,622.15 purchase of a 2021 Ford Utility Police vehicle, and adopting resolutions to employ two seasonal traffic controllers, to accept the $115,000 bid for the 2020 lease of Sea Spray Cottage #8, and to authorize the use of the East Hampton Town Tentative Assessment Roll dated May 1, 2020.