Cabs, Sharks Attack

A bartender, above, at the Shark Attack party held at the Montauk Yacht Club Friday night dived deep into a cooler for refreshments for some of the estimated 3,400 guests. T. E. McMorrow

    There were 86 cab companies with 547 registered drivers licensed in the Town of East Hampton as of Tuesday, according to East Hampton Town Clerk Fred Overton, and most of those cabs are operating in Montauk and Amagansett, said Police Chief Edward Ecker Jr.

    The number of taxi cabs in the hamlet of Montauk has continued to proliferate since last year, when members of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee suggested additional regulations be put in place to keep out-of-town cab companies from profiting unfairly during the South Fork’s busiest season.

    Town law requires that cabs post their rates on the back of the driver’s seat but that does not mean they abide by them, a committee member said. Members talked of rides costing $75 from the downtown area to Old Montauk Highway and $80 from downtown to the Lighthouse.

    It was the main topic of conversation at the committee’s Monday night meeting. While part of the updated regulations that were approved by the East Hampton Town Board earlier this year required that a cab operating in East Hampton Town must show proof of a local office address, Diane Hausman, the committee’s chairwoman, said that her research found that 51 of the permitted companies do not have local addresses and 9 of them used post office box numbers on their permit applications.

    The town realizes that many of the cab companies are operating out of the setup, Councilman Dominick Stanzione said Monday, adding that the Police Department had issued a substantial number of tickets. But several of the companies, he said, are still using permits that they obtained last year, which were grandfathered in and are good for two years. The town will take a closer look when those companies reapply for permits next year, he said.

    Several cabs have been ticketed for illegal vehicle use and for code and traffic violations, said Chief Ecker.

    From her office in downtown Montauk, Laraine Creegan, executive director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, has a prime view of the cabs’ activities, she said, and she is frustrated that the taxis are taking up parking spaces for long stretches of time that would normally be used by customers of surrounding businesses. She says that 10 to 15 cabs are parked near her office each day.

    “They bring their families. They’re having lunch and dinner in the cabs. They don’t use a dispatch. They’re all on cellphone,” she said. She suggested a specific site be designated for the cabs to park while waiting for a call.

    On a given day, you can see a slew of new cabs in the hamlet, many of them with names that make them sound local. Business owners have taken it upon themselves to chase the cabs away when they’re parked in front of their establishments.

    At Monday’s meeting, a subcommittee was formed to look into the taxi cab matter. It will include Ms. Creegan, Ms. Hausman, and Marilyn Behan, the committee’s secretary. They will report their findings at the C.A.C. meeting next month.

    The citizens group had mixed reactions to the Shark Attack Sounds Party held Friday night at the Montauk Yacht Club and said to attract close to 4,000 revelers.

    A group of businessmen, including one who docks his boat at the club, said the party was handled in a professional manner and went over well. When one of them said more events like it should be allowed, some applauded.

    Others said the party brought too many “sloppy” people into other areas of the town afterward. “How much did it cost me, as a taxpayer,” asked Lisa Grenci, the committee’s former chairwoman.

    Mr. Stanzione said it was estimated that it cost the town about $2,500, which drew some groans. “Apiece?” someone yelled out.

    The yacht club’s general manager, Lloyd Van Horn, who attended the meeting, said that he had contacted Mr. Ecker to ask if a fee should be paid for the extra town services anticipated and was told it was not necessary. “The administration of the town is not my responsibility,” he said.

    Overall the yacht club tries to keep dangers and disruptions at a minimum in consideration of its motel and marina guests, Mr. Van Horn said. Asked how much would be donated to the Montauk Playhouse Community Center, Mr. Van Horn said the club was still compiling the numbers and that the amount of the donation had not yet been established. Unbeknownst to Playhouse Foundation members, during the permit process, party organizers had promised a contribution to the not-for-profit community center.

    Mr. Stanzione said at Monday’s meeting that the crowd was a “high quality of people.”

    In a follow-up call yesterday Mr. Van Horn said the party was fantastic, but that he is not yet sure if it will be held next year at the yacht club.

    Talk at Monday’s meeting also touched on the Memory Motel, where an outdoor bar and picnic tables are taking over a number of parking spaces. By eliminating some on-site parking, the Memory is forcing its customers to use parking spaces that should be available to customers of other establishments, some in the group said. “These guys are going to make a quick acquaintance with our police,” Mr. Stanzione.

    The Police Department is having trouble with early and late-night crowds at the Memory, Chief Ecker said, adding that there had been two recent noise complaints and an ambulance call. Code enforcement is on it, he said.

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  T.E. McMorrow

This article has been changed from its original online and print version to remove the names of cab companies who were referenced in a sentence on new companies with names that make them sound local. Owners of three of those companies called The Star after reading their company names in the article to report that the companies are, in fact, locally-owned.