Ask Roe About Life
January 11, 2019
Operation Save Gypsy Tribe
We Need Your Help!
Many of you know me, but for those of you who don’t; I’m a lifelong teacher. I opened Gypsy Tribe Westchester with the thought of a fun community place for yoga, aerial and lots of laughs.
My first week in business, I was almost shut down, because of the aerial rigging system; which was approved, was complained about by an unknown woman, who drove by Gypsy Tribe and saw “dangerous things, hanging from the ceiling”. I fixed that issue, but it was costly.
Next was the AC/Heat system. Between Gypsy Tribe and Martin House we had either no air, or too much. Gypsy Tribe needed to close for a few days to get a vent system installed, which happened, but not until my landlords forced me to pay for the work. I was blamed for removing a vent system, that had already collapsed, and was rotted through after years of neglect. The vent system hadn’t worked properly in years, yet the responsibility fell on me, a tenant, not the landlord.
When I rented the space, I noticed a hole in one wall, which now has a vent cover over it. I was told it was to help cool the room, so I constantly opened that vent. Little did I know that hole lead to a cesspool of black mold.
Throughout the nine months Gypsy Tribe Westchester has operated, I have been subjected to thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs. I’m absolutely fed up with the lack of help I’ve received from my landlords.I have spoken with the Department of Health, Westchester County and they have known of 69 Westchester Ave. and its problems for years. There are currently no mold regulations in place for New York State, but as we learn more, no mold is good mold, and it is beginning to be considered the new asbestos.
The next big issue was my electricity being shut off by another business in the building, because we shared a meter. I was blamed for that too, put out for a solid week, and only given $500 off my rent. I lost far more than that.
Finally, I got sicker than I had ever been in my life, but I thought it was fibromyalgia related, which weakens one’s immune system. It was warm inside, with the heat up and I could barely breathe, but I share a meter with 2 other businesses, so I can’t really turn the heat up or down as needed. I would open that little vent over that little hole and put a fan on the floor to bring that air up into the studio, to help cool it off. It was all mold spores, I was blowing in.
I ignored my symptoms for two weeks. Finally, my breathing worsened, I had lesions on my face, that would not heal; not a pimple, a lesion, red, raw open skin, which turned out to be Impetigo. I began to suspect mold. I was diagnosed with bronchitis/tubulitis, and given antibiotics, a cough syrup with codeine and some narcotic, but made me so incredibly sick, I had to stop taking it. Throughout all of this, I worked, 7 days a week, when I could get out of bed. I felt like I was going to die.
I tried to enter the basement, only to find the lock had been changed. I emailed the landlords about the lock, and received no answer for four days. I could hear water running through the hole in my wall, and I could see that there was a few feet of water rising up directly underneath my studio. When it rains outside, the basement floods and the sump pump cannot handle the amount of water, so an alarm sounds when the water gets too high. A pipe had burst, the basement flooded and the sump pump stopped working, as did the alarm. My second email was met with a dismissive response of “ the alarm you hear is what happens when the water gets too high in the basement”, in my world, that’s a flood. We were denied access to the basement for two weeks, allowing the problem to get worse and worse.
I purchased a petri dish and saw results immediately. Repeatedly I emailed the landlords for help, which was disregarded for 2 weeks. I threatened to go to the news, they finally caved. I believe that the building should have been closed, and the community informed during the abatement, but the landlords choice was to do this in secret. There is a huge dumpster filled with black garbage bags of mushy 50 year old drywall completely black with mold sitting in the back lot, behind 69 Westchester Ave.
These circumstances have caused me to lose so much in the last 9 months. I have tried to settle with the landlords, due to my illness and loss of revenue, and asked them to relocate Gypsy Tribe Westchester. I asked for this to be done by March 31, 2019. As usual, they blatantly disregard their part in the demise of my brand, and want Gypsy Tribe Westchester out of the space by the date I gave them, without compensation, or relocation.
My health and my finances have suffered. The welfare of the kids who have come in and spent hours breathing in mold, the adults with compromised immune systems have been exposed to this. The issues were not as bad in the rest of the building, because Gypsy Tribe is directly above the cesspool of toxic mold, and the HVAC system blows most of the compromised air into Gypsy Tribe. My air quality tests came back “normal”which to the delight of my landlords, they are using this excuse to dismiss my claims, based on fact. Normal amounts of black mold are 10,000 spore count or less. There are two possible reasons for this:
1. The engineer in charge of conducting the tests dropped has equipment as he was setting up.
2. I clean daily, with steam, and Tea Tree Oil, which kills everything. Tea Tree Oil is antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial. Working in the fitness industry has taught me a lot about preventative methods to avoid getting sick. This mold was just too much. Each time I opened my back door, more mold spores were released into the air. Each time anyone went in or out of the bathroom doors, or back door, more mold spores were dispersed into the air. Each time the kids jumped, mold spores were released into the basement directly under GTW and were continuing to grow due to the constant dampness.
Nevertheless, my landlords broke my lease and refuse to acknowledge that.
Since the moldy drywall has been removed, I checked the basement, and found, not only another flood, but that the mold had seeped into the wooden foundation, directly under Gypsy Tribe. I don’t want to risk my health, or the health of anyone else, and I believe moving the business is the best option.
My landlords believe letting me out of the lease with no legal ramifications is enough. A lease is an agreement between two parties who must mutually agree, not a one sided document made to destroy one side and save the other. A lease agreement is meant t protect both parties.
I’m speaking out about the discriminating way with which they treated me, and how they are now just willing to disregard me once again. They are ignoring facts, and medical records, and believe I will simply walk away bankrupt, and leave my clients and students.
If you know me, you know what the answer is, “I WON’T BACK DOWN”
The Chicago Tribune has a great article about the dangers of mold. If you have been experiencing health issues, and have been a client of Gypsy Tribe, I truly apologize. I fought as hard as I could to resolve the issue. Had I been aware of the mold prior to opening in this space, I would never have done so.
Working in the Wellness Industry, we have a certain moral and ethical code to uphold. There are always things that will happen beyond our control, but it’s the way you chose to handle it that shows your character.
So come on in, support your neighbor at Gypsy Tribe and help me help the community so we can keep our yoga and aerial studio going!