Yoga In Park Needs Sponsor Before Approval

Yoga In Park Needs Sponsor Before Approval

BERLIN – Town officials asked a local yoga instructor to partner with a non-profit before they considered her request to begin using Stephen Decatur Park.

Yoga instructor Emily Keen approached the Berlin Town Council this week seeking permission to host a yoga session once a week in Stephen Decatur Park. Because the town typically only allows non-profit groups to use the parks for organized activities, Mayor Gee Williams suggested Keen come back to the council with her request once she found a non-profit sponsor.

“It’s not about you. It’s about setting a precedent,” Williams said. “I think you wouldn’t have much trouble finding a well-established non-profit to be your sponsor.”

Keen, who teaches yoga at Zenna Wellness Studio in Berlin, recently moved back to the area from Ohio and wants to start teaching outdoor yoga.

Keen proposed hosting a yoga session each Sunday at 6 p.m. in the back of the park near the tennis courts. She said it would be donation-based with some of the money supporting the program and the rest donated to local teachers to help them purchase school supplies.

“Mostly the money would be so the program could be self-sustaining,” she said.

Keen added that as a certified yoga instructor she had seen what the exercise could do for people.

“The benefits of yoga are expansive,” she said.

She added that she was CPR certified and had liability insurance.

Williams explained that officials tried to limit park use to activities with non-profit affiliations. According to the town code, no use of the parks for any activity in which money is exchanged is allowed without the permission of the Mayor and Council.

“The 300-pound gorilla sitting in the room is we’ve always tried to be diligent in making sure with public facilities that when permissions are granted they’re associated or sponsored by a non-profit or church,” he said.

Williams said officials wanted to see the parks used but encouraged Keen to find a sponsor.

“It would make our job easier and make it more fair to apply the same standards to everyone,” he said. “It’s a public facility that’s publicly maintained with public dollars.”

Councilmember Lisa Hall suggested Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services as a possible partner. Williams agreed.

Keen will look into partnering with a non-profit and return to the council.