Southampton Town has turned down an event company’s request to host a large outdoor concert at the Nova’s Ark property in Water Mill, the site of a controversial 2020 concert that resulted in $20,000 in state fines for failing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
Squadra Films and Entertainment had applied for an event permit to host the Palm Tree Music Festival on Aug. 29 for a crowd estimated at 2,500 people, according to the permit application. Event organizers told town officials that DJs known as Kygo and Zedd would have been expected to perform.
The admission fee would have been between $500 and $1,500 per person, according to the application. A portion of the proceeds would have benefitted the Heart of the Hamptons food pantry.
"Palm Tree Music Experience is truly the first of it [sic] kind," the application states. "A concert bringing a summertime dream to the Hamptons."
The town’s emergency management officials denied the application on Friday, citing concerns over community impact, public safety and land-use issues on the property.
Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki said the date conflicted with the first day of the Hampton Classic Horse Show at that event’s nearby showgrounds.
"There’s two reasons why it would be an unmanageable one," he told Newsday. "It would be an exceptional drain on police manpower. But the secondary and more problematic issue … the road structure alone doesn’t really lend itself to managing that volume of cars and people."
Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said rising COVID-19 cases in Suffolk County tied to a more contagious strain of the virus have made town officials more cautious in their review of proposed events.
"With the delta variant, that is certainly going to complicate things," Schneiderman said.
Town officials met with the organizer and agreed to expedite the review process so there would be enough time to organize the concert if it was approved, said Ryan Murphy, Southampton’s public safety and emergency management administrator.
Representatives from Squadra did not immediately comment on the application denial.
Last summer’s Chainsmokers concert drew massive attention after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo repeatedly chastised town officials for not doing more to control the crowds and the concert was investigated by the state Health Department. People had been allowed to congregate in a section near the stage where mask wearing was not enforced.
Schneiderman, who played drums on stage during the concert, said he had no plans to perform if another show was held. Schneiderman has said he would not have performed during the 2020 event if he knew the organizers were going to violate conditions of their permit.
The town was required to turn over event permit applications to the state for approval, but that requirement expired when the governor lifted the state of emergency in June, Schneiderman said.
Concert promoters In the Know Experiences and Invisible Noise were fined $20,000 by the state for the July 25, 2020, concert for failing to abide by the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.