Signed in as:
It is with a heavy heart that I must address a very important subject. As many of you know, we moved to this location in August 2019, and shortly thereafter had to shut down due to the pandemic.
We have been struggling to keep our program going with minimal enrollment with hopes of holding out for better days. In addition to the stress caused by the pandemic, we have faced additional issues – none of our doing:
About 2 ½ years ago, we had a massive flood in the facility caused by a leaky roof drainpipe which destroyed our dance floor in the main studio – the very reason we moved here in the first place.
In the middle of getting the floor replaced, the building was sold and the new owner refused to take responsibility. This foreign investor has no personal ties to the community other than to move in and take advantage of businesses and families that have been financially impacted by the pandemic.
Beginning last January, I started reporting issues with the A/C units as well as multiple leaks throughout the facility. Management eventually began addressing the leak issues but refused to make repairs to the A/C's, claiming that “Per my lease” I was required to make the repairs. That was never a part of my original agreement, so I began seeking legal counsel to read through my lease and advise me of my rights. It clearly states that the owner must maintain the roof, and the tenant is not responsible for damages that he has not caused.
Before I could follow up on these issues with the management, on the last day of our summer session and while preparing for our final rehearsal for our Summer Musical production, we had a small fire in one of the A/C units.
Instead of expressing concern for the welfare of our students and a commitment to help get our facility repaired and prepared for our Fall registration, this man began yelling at me and claiming they were going to evict me based on ridiculous accusations such as: “you introduced a vapor into the A/C which caused a fire” -What????; and “you broke into the electric breaker room” - Huh????; and other ridiculous, unbelievable lies – which their lawyer actually repeated in legal documents.
In response to these asinine allegations, I had no choice but to retain legal counsel to protect me from their stated intent to evict me – FOR NO REAL CAUSE!!
If they had just complied at that point, my legal fees would have been minor – along with my demand to repay me for that and other expenses which were accrued solely due to their actions and in-actions. But as they had refused to meet their obligations, I had to escalate the proceedings and file a lawsuit. To finance my legal fees, I have been utilizing a 'no interest' offer on a credit card which will expire in June. I have felt confident that this matter would be settled before then and my legal fees would be reimbursed. However, when I went to the first court hearing, the judge informed me that I must pay the disputed rent amount into the court registry before he could proceed to rule on the case. Despite my protest that I did not have that much in my business account due to the fact that I was prevented from doing timely promotions to increase my Fall enrollment, it was required by state law, and I had until 5pm the next day to put almost $26,000.00 into the court registry. It took nearly every cent from all of my business and personal bank accounts, along with a quick loan from a very dear friend, but I managed to meet the deadline. Due to delays postponing the court dates I had to make two more payments of $3751.58 into the court registry. I had expected justice to be in my favor and be able to recoup those funds to repay my friends, family members and credit accounts, but was waylaid by some minor provision in the lease that ignored all the reprehensible actions by the owner and management. (Unbelievable!!)
I like to be a giving person and have always offered discounts and financial assistance to help families provide the best performing experiences for their children. My greatest wish would be to win one of those 'mega-lotteries' so that I could build that theatre which we were supposed to have years ago and give free classes to my students. My second greatest wish would be to get enough support from the community to make that a reality. It has been said that “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. If you've ever been a friend to Temple Terrace Ballet, Masque Community Theatre, are a lover of the performing arts and want to see this community and these families have the best training and performing experience anywhere, or just want to see justice served and a terrible wrong righted, please give what you can to see us through this unfortunate situation and help us move forward to our ultimate goal.
I had hoped to avoid bringing these issues to everyone's attention, not wishing to raise alarm or create undo concern and undermine confidence in our program. I have borne the onus of this injustice and taken out significant loans already to provide for my defense – which I have been loath to do but saw no other recourse. I had spent considerable time in the recent past with a large debt which had accrued during the financial recession a dozen years ago while I was mostly unemployed. I worked steadfastly to pay off those accounts and about a year before the pandemic finally paid off all my outstanding debts and was looking forward to putting my extra income into a retirement account. But shortly after that time it became necessary to relocate my program to get a proper, safe floor for students and be able to train them in a more caring, concerned environment. It took all I had saved to that point to make the move, but it was well worth it and gave us much to look forward to in the future. I re-financed my home to pay off my car and get some funds to enhance the dance studio and make some needed repairs to my home as well as my classic cars. Then came the pandemic which halted our operations and put everything at risk. I continued to pay my staff even though we were not able to have classes so that they would not suffer from loss of income. I hoped I would be able to get funds from the PPP loan program but was never able to (even though many companies illegally received millions of $$$). Instead of making all the planned expenditures, I held on to my personal monies to help see me through these tough times. I did make one sizable purchase to invest in a vinyl floor covering to provide the best dance surface possible, fulfilling my initial commitment to provide a proper floor for my students. It is especially exacerbating to again be faced with a flooring issue that threatens the well-being of our students and the program as a whole.
I have walked a tightrope trying to keep enough enrollment to afford to keep paying rent and my staff along with other business expenses and I have not taken any teaching or administrative salary for myself for the past three years, meeting shortfalls by using my personal funds and seasonal earnings from my photo and video business. My personal funds are now exhausted, and I am faced with the prospect of paying off a credit balance at an extremely high rate.
I never sought to become wealthy as a dance teacher. My goal in life since I was around twenty was to serve god by serving others, which I chose to do by sharing the joy of dance to help children grow up strong and healthy and promote harmony in mind, body and spirit for all - thereby hoping to store my treasures in heaven. I'm hoping that I have spread enough joy and created enough good will here on earth that enough 'good people' will step forward to help me out so that I can secure a new location for our school and get back on track giving loving service to the community.
Check video documenting the floor condition when we moved in, after repairs, then after the floods came.