The Mast-Head: First Gate in Town

    Not all that long ago really, East Hampton Village saw its first driveway gate. Now every other property seems to have one — and it’s not just deer homeowners are trying to keep out.
    When I was a teenager in the 1970s, the appearance of the first gated property off Further Lane in East Hampton was enough to spawn years of speculation. Unable to understand why anyone would bother to close off a driveway like that, we kids figured that someone whose past was filled with danger and intrigue lived there. The Mafia house, we called it.
    You can still see what I believe was the original gate, but today it is hardly remarkable. Impressive white gates are visible from one end of town to the other.
    In case you wondered, in East Hampton Town one needs the correct approvals for any driveway gate worth putting up. Permission from the architectural review board must be secured before the Building Department will issue a construction permit. In East Hampton Village, gates can be as high as six feet from the ground, as long as they are not in the public right of way. In Saga­ponack, driveway gates cannot be higher than five feet, not quite tall enough to keep out your more athletic deer.
    With the explosion of deer here, gates now have gotten taller and much fancier. Some are installed in combination with cattle guards and other measures designed to keep the four-footed pests moving along to less-well-protected neighbors’ perennial beds.
    Doug Casto, who runs East End Fence and Gate, said his customers had a range of reasons for calling on him. In almost 15 years of installing and servicing gates, he said, while people were interested in keeping deer and salespeople at bay, security concerns topped the list.
    “There are two different mindsets here,” he said when I called this week. “There are the people who want it rural and those who want privacy.”
    Curious, I asked Mr. Casto how much a gate would run me if I wanted one. He said that an automated pair would be about $30,000; to spend less, well, you would get what you pay for. I told him I was glad I was sitting down.
    Then there’s maintenance to figure in, Mr. Casto said. With the slowdown in new construction during the last couple of years, taking care of the gates he installs has been an important part of his business.
    Celebrities, government figures, and ordinary folks are all among his customer base. “People want some distance between themselves and the road,” he said. Can’t argue with that, I guess.