More Scrutiny for Big Events

    It seems that every weekend since the weather turned warmer in May there have been bike races, motorcycle events, and triathlons clogging the roads in Montauk. Residents have complained that sometimes they can’t even get out of their driveways.

    Several of them visited the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee at the end of the season last year to see if a sub-committee could be formed to go through the gathering permit applications and weed out the ones that are not for charity, with an eye to eliminating gatherings for-profit, which, they said, make a lot of money from the town without giving anything back. Still, while there is some agreement at East Hampton Town Hall about the need to once again take a close look at policies regarding large gatherings, little has been done since then.

    East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione said in an e-mail message this week that a full review of events by police, fire, and public safety officials is necessary. Without their okay, no for-profit event should succeed in obtaining approval, he said. Avoiding scheduling multiple events in a particular area, but especially in Montauk, would help limit public annoyance, he said.

    Larger events, he said, should receive special attention well in advance of an event, since summer season mass gathering events require a more detailed review and should require an application deadline 60 days in advance of the event, he said. Moreover, the town should also require private sponsors to provide a professional event plan for police and public safety review. Such a document would provide important information relating to the capacity of a venue and the sponsor’s experience, he said.

    A breakdown of events scheduled this summer for each hamlet could not be obtained from East Hampton Town Clerk Fred Overton, who did not return numerous calls and e-mail messages by press time.

    Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said that there has not yet been a fully vetted discussion at the town board level about limiting the events, which she agrees have become a concern. She would like to see a detailed account from the police, fire marshal, code enforcement, sanitation, and emergency personnel of just how much these events may cost in town resources.

    Agreeing that the events have become “burdensome,” Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said a maximum number of events may have to be settled upon. The for-profit events should also be required to contribute to local causes and reimburse the town for its services, he said.

    The East Hampton Town Code allows for fees to be charged in connection with commercial gatherings on public property and also allows for fees to cover traffic control and cleanup, among other things, but those can be waived at the town board’s discretion.

    Two weeks ago officials in the Town of Southold enacted a ban on for-profit events that can draw up to 1,000 cyclists a day. They said the riders congest the area, impacting its scenic farms and vineyard vistas, while spending little money in the community and taxing police resources.

    It was reported that Southold residents fear that the North Fork could become too much like the South Fork. Residents there also complained about not being able to pull out onto the main roads because of bicyclists and others clogging them during athletic events.