For many years a little known fact in Montauk was that parking in the Kirk Park lot was free to residents with an East Hampton Town parking permit and $10 for the day for visitors. When town officials noticed that the large numbers now visiting the hamlet were parking on Main Street and blocking access to some stores, they eliminated the parking fee.
But the beachside lot, which can accommodate up to 60 vehicles, if not more, remains partially empty most days. Last week, East Hampton Town Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc sent out an e-mail to all members of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee asking their opinions of a sign that would bring attention to the lot. A storm of e-mails followed, specifically in response to the plan to include the names of the East Hampton Town supervisor and town board members on the sign.
Mr. Van Scoyoc asked for objections only since the town would like to move quickly and get the sign put up before the season takes off, with the goals of increasing awareness of the underused ocean beach and a more even distribution of bathers, he wrote.
The sign would be installed at the northwest corner of the parking lot on South Eagle Street, where a scruff of beach roses is now. Although the forwarded image was a Photoshopped reproduction, Mr. Van Scoyoc said, the sign is black with gold lettering and says “Welcome to Montauk, Kirk Park Beach, Free Parking and Restrooms” and includes space at the top for the town seal, where the names of the supervisor and board members would be included. Many people thought that was fiscally irresponsible, however, since the names would have to be changed often.
Mr. Van Scoyoc wrote in the e-mail that Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, a Montauk resident, wants his name on the new sign. And where the supervisor’s name is, often the other board members’ names follow, he said.
Those who replied to the e-mail mostly agreed that the town officials’ names should not be put on the sign. “It makes it egotistically official looking,” said one citizens advisory committee member.
“If we put names on the sign then we have to put up a new sign every year that there is a new administration. I say no names,” wrote Arlene Brodsky, a committee member.
“I do not believe any board or supervisor’s name should be added,” wrote John Chimples.
Councilman Dominick Stanzione, the committee’s town board liaison, wrote, “I want the supervisor’s name on it. It’s tradition! And it’s a good tradition!”
Lisa Grenci, who until March was the committee’s chairwoman, wrote that she is totally opposed to the supervisor’s name being included and supports a bidding process to make the sign, which brought up another issue: What should the sign look like and should the project go out to bid?
Harry Ellis, a sign maker in Montauk for more than 20 years and a committee member, said he wanted a chance to bid on it. He said he was the one who made the existing “Welcome to Montauk” sign on the north side of the parking lot on Montauk Highway, the blue one with white lettering that has the Montauk Lighthouse on it.
Members wrote back and forth about the uniformity of the hamlet’s signs, a point that was commented on by Councilwoman Theresa Quigley: “Whatever that look is, it should be the same for all the signs on town property.” She went on to say that the proposed sign seems fine but is markedly different from other signs, but then those signs, she said, also don’t follow a set pattern.
Mr. Van Scoyoc could not be reached by phone or e-mail by press time. But Councilwoman Sylvia Overby sent a reply to questions yesterday, saying that town officials’ names are listed on all park properties. The names, she said, are on a nameplate that is easily removed and replaced. The sign, she said, would be made in-house by the Buildings and Grounds Department, which eliminates the need for a bid process.