Multiple presidents of chambers of commerce within the Town of Islip have worked toward expanding outdoor dining and shopping in their respective hamlets. Upon discussions of setting aside an afternoon or evening once a week when Main Street in a particular hamlet can close in order to maximize outdoor dining and retail for local Main Street businesses, the Town of Islip has remained hesitant to permit gatherings.
“The supervisor continues to remain steadfast that in any decision to be made, the safety of our residents is our foremost priority,” said Islip Town spokesperson Caroline Smith. “Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo continues to discourage mass gatherings and is working hard to remind everyone to wear their face coverings and social distance. We have seen from experience that when people are gathered together and drink- ing, their inhibitions go down, and precautionary measures go out the window.”
The spokesperson also pointed out the rising rates in areas of the country where reopening unfolded too fast and/or too early, to the point in which positivity rates began to climb regionally. Additionally, the peak infection rate within the Town of Islip featured significant statistics for contraction of the virus.
Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce president Eileen Tyznar said that, although she nor the chamber has formally submitted a request through the town, an idea she has presented is a 4 to 9 Shop and Dine, which would close Main Street in Sayville from 4 to 9 p.m. for either one or two days each week to promote local businesses in a safe- ly spaced outdoor environment to dine and shop. The event would also strictly follow CDC guidelines, if it were to come to fruition, she noted.
Tyznar acknowledged Islip supervisor Angie Carpenter’s concern for the increased potential to violate social-distancing regulations, but noted the desperation for the local economy to pounce on an opportunity that would benefit local business. Tyznar referred to the town’s decision as a roadblock.
“While I can respect that, my concern is that [Carpenter] has to respect [chambers] enough to let us try it because if you do not let us try it, and a second wave comes in October and these businesses get more restricted again, they are not going to have enough funding to pull off of,” Tyznar said, continuing on to emphasize the economic opportunity. “We have to be a squirrel that gathers up as many nuts right now as possible because we might need it in the near future if a second wave comes. I want these businesses to be able to put that money away. They are putting them away for when they need it. We have to maximize these months for these businesses so that they can put this money away in case of a second wave. They have to be prepared.”
Tyznar said that most local businesses will likely not survive a second wave. She also said that a transition to scheduled maximized outdoor shopping and dining on Main Street in Sayville would encourage more patrons to shop and dine in the hamlet.
“A lot of diners are still a little apprehensive about being inside, and this will give them a way to experience the restaurants that they miss and love and to feel a little better about being in the fresh air,” Tyznar said. “They want to experience a safe way to go shopping and dining and still feel safe. Let’s be honest: We are still in the middle of this. Some people still are not sure, and you cannot blame them.”
The town spokesperson iterated the town’s shared concern for local business corridors within the township.
“The Town of Islip has and continues to do everything we can to support our businesses and our Main Streets,” Smith said, adding that the town and chambers worked together to compile a master list of the restaurants and other businesses not only in business, but offering takeout, delivery, and outdoor/indoor dining throughout the pandemic.