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Hampton Bays people: Bruce King
Bruce King, 63
Community associations: President of the Hampton Bays Civic Association, member of American Legion Hand-Aldrich Post 924
How long have you lived in Hampton Bays?
My whole life. So did my father, my great-grandfather, my great-great-grandfather, and his father and so on.
How many generations are there?
Oh, I don’t know. We’ve been here since the beginning of Hampton Bays.
How have you seen the community change?
When I was growing up there were only 2,000 people here. When you went to school, a lot of the people were your third, fourth, fifth cousins. It made it hard to find a prom date.
Besides all the people, it was always very quiet here in the winter and very fast moving in the summer because of the group houses and all of the bars for young people. There was a time when this was a very popular place to party. But those are all gone now, and it’s still busy in the summer but not as much.
When was it a party town?
It started before I was born. There were a lot of group houses that people would rent for the summer and there were a lot of bars on the beach. They are almost completely gone now, both as an effort of the community and also a natural phasing out. We had great big houses here at one point but they’ve burned down over the last 20 years.
What made you stay in Hampton Bays your whole life?
It was a series of small decisions. I enjoy the ocean and the seasons.
Why do you think people move here from other communities?
Affordability. Friendly people. There are lots of programs here and activities to be involved in. There are lots of recreational activities and a lot of support for the school system.
And there are hundreds of acres of parkland that have been left unspoiled. We have the only preserved beachfront land from Breezy Point to Montauk. There’s no development on it.
What challenges do the community face?
The big challenge is the population density. We have problems with people living illegally, two to three families in a house. And we have landlords doing something illegal -- and I think immoral -- by pushing them into these houses. There are also landlords renting beds by the night to day laborers.
How would you define the character of the community?
It’s a friendly place and a working-class community. The people pull together in times of need.