The host of a 10-hour dance party who had obtained permission to use an East Hampton Town park in Amagansett on Saturday, saying that the gathering was for friends and family, charged up to $174 per person to attend without the knowledge of local officials.
The gathering, billed on the Web as Electronic Beach, appeared to have violated a number of conditions of its town permit and drew complaints about noise from beachgoers and residents.
In a 4-0 vote on Aug. 1 the East Hampton Town Board approved what appeared to be a routine mass gathering permit for an event at Fresh Pond Park in Amagansett set for little more than a week later.
However, it was all quiet that night at the approved location, but not so at Albert’s Landing Beach, less than a mile away, where a stage, lights, a powerful sound system, and several bars had been set up.
According to the wording of the town board resolution, the event, described as a “summer social,” was organized by John Rayner Turley of New York City. In his application, Mr. Turley had said that a single live band and a D.J. would provide the entertainment for a get-together for up to 150 “friends and relatives.”
On Saturday, a throng of revelers estimated at 200 people, each paying between $154 and $174, depending on if they took advantage of early-bird offers, gathered at Albert’s Landing to hear a lineup that included three live bands and at least that many D.J. sets.
It was a modest event by recent East Hampton Town standards. The July 5 Shark Attack Sounds party in Montauk reportedly drew close to 4,000 people at a ticket cost of $46 per person.
Calls about noise coming from the Albert’s Landing Beach area began to come in to East Hampton police dispatchers around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Nine in all, they stopped shortly before midnight after the music had ended. Sound from the tall stacks of loudspeakers carried far, reaching to Town Lane in Amagansett and across Gardiner’s Bay to Lazy Point.
According to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who lives in Amagansett, a resident visited her Town Hall office on Monday to complain. She said that the woman told her that by the early evening, when she had gone to the beach for a swim, the music’s volume was nearly intolerable.
That night from a distance greenish-blue lighting could be seen illuminating the trees around the Albert’s Landing Beach picnic area. From time to time, white searchlight-style beacons rose into the sky, as if to punctuate the thudding music.
Security at the event seemed to consist of several people watching vehicles in the town-owned beach parking lot and a few burly men in black T-shirts among the crowd. A young man wearing gloves circled the grounds picking up plastic cups and other debris.
Most of the crowd, which appeared to be men and women in their low to mid-20s, thronged around the stage dancing to the performances or recording the proceedings on their smartphones. Others roamed the grounds, grabbing cups of Coors Light beer, waiting at a food truck for something to eat, or queued at several bar tents each bearing the Monster Energy Drink logo. Also available were Pacifico beer, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Vita Coco coconut water. All of the beverage providers were listed as sponsors of the event on Electronic Beach’s Facebook page and on a promotional video.
On its Wordpress Web page, the promoters, including Mr. Turley, 26, promised an event with an “intimate feel,” a follow-up to one held at the same location in 2012.
“For those who were unable to attend last year, picture a sunset into moonlight music/dance sensation on the beach — in a secluded venue — next to the ocean — under the stars — with music going from sunset till midnight.” Albert’s Landing Beach borders Gardiner’s Bay.
Mr. Turley said that planning for last year’s Electronic Beach festival began in February. This year, because much of the groundwork had been already prepared, he was able to start a little later.
Acts performing on Saturday included Strange Talk, an Australian pop foursome, the Chainsmokers, and See-I, a reggae group. The ticket fee included round-trip buses to and from the site, though where the pickup points were was not specified.
The town’s permit conditions included a requirement that outdoor music be turned off by 9 p.m. and “all indoor music” be off by 11 p.m. The site does not have any interior space other than a small, concrete-block restroom.
Lighting, the resolution ordered, would have to be confined to the site. In part, it mirrored the permit application, which read, “given the seclusive [sic] nature of the park, the lights will not be visible by any citizens.”
Despite the town’s approval for the use of Fresh Pond Park from 5 to 11 p.m., the Electronic Beach Web page listed its opening at 4 p.m. and closing at midnight. Garbage was to be removed that night by Electronic Beach staff.
Anthony Littman, who runs the East Hampton Town Parks and Building Maintenance Department, which is responsible for upkeep at Albert’s Landing Beach, did not return a call seeking comment.
East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson was absent from the town board meeting when Mr. Turley’s application was approved. He and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley were listed at the joint sponsors of the resolution.
Mr. Turley submitted the application for the permit on or before June 25, well in advance of the 30-day deadline. On it he listed Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership of Manhattan as the “sponsoring organization,” noting in the document’s margin, “The H.L.L. organization is not a direct sponsor of the gathering; we simply allow them to set up a table” at the event. He also checked “yes” on a box indicating that the group had 501(c) tax status. A call seeking comment from the group was not returned.
Though Mr. Turley had incorrectly named the actual site of the party on his application as Fresh Pond Park, he had described the address as the “end of Little Albert’s Landing Road.” In fact, the buses, personal vehicles, and support staff and performers’ vans were parked in the large Albert’s Landing Beach parking lot itself from at least the early afternoon on Saturday.
There was no sign of East Hampton police presence, and a police spokesman said he did not know anything about it.
Mr. Turley said that he was aware of at least one noise complaint and that the music had been turned down in response. “We apologize. We hate to have that,” he said.
There was no mention of the ticket charge, food and beverage sponsors, or Electronic Beach in the material Mr. Turley provided with his permit application. As a paid event — and because the Harlem Lacrosse organization was allowed only to put up a table and was not the sole beneficiary, as he wrote on the form — Electronic Beach might well have been subjected to the town’s more stringent commercial event standards for the use of public land if this had been apparent to town officials.
Had the event been viewed as a commercial venture at the outset, under the law, the application would have been first reviewed by the town board. Instead, as an ordinary mass gathering request, it went through the usual, convoluted channels, arriving before the board with only nine days left. By that time, online ticket sales were underway, and Mr. Turley had booked the entertainment, food, and other services.
In a telephone interview Mr. Turley said that Electronic Beach was not a commercial event and that nearly all of the money from ticket sales went to costs, such as hiring performers and staff. Anything left over would be donated to Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership, he said.
He said that an online link to an invitation had been sent only to a “private” group of people he knew and “friends of friends.” However, Electronic Beach’s Facebook page, Eventbrite ticket page, and promotional videos were all easily viewed after the event. The Facebook page and videos were made inaccessible by yesterday.
“It was not a commercial venture. We just try to make it fun for our friends,” he said.
In an interview Ms. Overby said the event and apparent misrepresentations on the application by Mr. Turley were disturbing. “It shows that people are using and abusing our beaches and natural resources, and we are going to have to protect ourselves.”
“We may have to tighten procedures,” she said, including routing even routine mass gathering permit paperwork to the town board earlier in the process. “Taxpayers are getting punished for doing good,” she said, referring to the town’s long history of preserving open space and natural areas.