Southampton Village officials will shut down two major streets Saturday night to encourage outdoor dining and retail. “Southampton in the Streets” is a way to help businesses trying to recover from the near economic shutdown caused by the novel coronavirus.
A pilot road closure, Main Street and Jobs Lane will be closed to vehicular traffic starting at 5:30 p.m., though the event will be held from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Street blockades will be positioned at the entrance of Main Street from the north, between Hampton Road and Nugent Street. Jobs Lane will be closed at Windmill Lane.
Main Street will be closed between Jobs Lane and Nugent Street, and Jobs Lane will be closed between Windmill Lane and Main Street.
“This is not a festival,” Mayor Jesse Warren said in a press release. “Our intent is to create a safe, welcoming, pedestrian-only option for people to stroll, shop and dine in the heart of our beautiful village.”
Restaurants with outdoor dining will be able to put out even more tables during the special event, as long as they are six feet apart. Those strolling the village and not seated at a table must wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Southampton Arts Center on Jobs Lane will have live music on the lawn, as well as an outdoor sculpture exhibit. There will be designated area for chalk art, along with ambassadors from the Southampton Village Youth Committee. A local food truck will be located on Jobs Lane and a popular DJ will be spinning “family-friendly ambient music” on Main Street.
Street closures for outdoor dining and retail have been popping up nationwide as the country reopens, including in New York City and, closer to home, in Greenport. But the event also goes hand-in-hand with a move toward being more pedestrian-friendly.
“It’s a short-term response to a worldwide crisis,” Village Trustee Kimberly Allen said of the event. She said she hoped it would “help our businesses catch the season, give everyone a lot of space and reduce any pubic safety fears,” adding that it is a demonstration of a public-private partnership.
“The business community asked for it,” Warren said by phone Wednesday. “Anything we can do to help out our business community is really imperative . . . Every business that is here is basically four months behind.”
There has been a call for Southampton Village to be more like Sag Harbor Village, where shops stay open later and restaurants keep patrons in the village after regular business hours.
If the first street closure goes well, village officials could plan more. “There is so much energy around this, I think we’ll see quite a nice turnout,” Warren said.