A longtime Montauk resident is spearheading a grassroots group whose mission is to make sure problems linked to out-of-control partying by summertime visitors do not disrupt the community next year.
Tom Bogdan, a retired business owner who has lived in Montauk for 45 years, announced the Montauk United effort last week in a full-page ad in a local paper and said he wants to get at least 1,000 people to join. He said 221 signed up between Thursday and Tuesday.
"There's strength in numbers," Bogdan, 75, said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "Right now the season's coming to an end, but we're organizing right now. We're very unhappy with the way things have turned out in Montauk. It has changed from a middle-class resort town to a party town."
In the ad in the July 30 edition of The East Hampton Star, Bogdan said the group would address "problems such as public drunkenness, crime, outrageously bad behavior, and generally intolerable mayhem that has been foisted on our community through greed, indifference and the contempt and abuse of the legal and moral values that are Montauk's social foundation."
Bogdan said the group is preparing for next year.
"The town board has done a magnificent job of responding to all the people who attended the July 14 board meeting," he said. "But we need 1,000 Montauk citizens to unite together as one voice to approach the town and state and local governments and address what we're all confronting."
Bogdan was referring to an East Hampton Town Board work session attended by nearly 300 Montauk residents and business owners who demanded that something be done about the raucous behavior of some weekend visitors.
Just days after that meeting, town officials started a crackdown on what they said were offending businesses and visitors. The effort included stepped-up enforcement and resulted in scores of arrests and citations.
Overtime was also authorized for police, fire and code enforcement personnel, and new laws are being considered to get control of the situation.
"We'll take this to higher levels of government and Alcoholic Beverage Control," Bogdan said. "Imagine if we sent out 1,000 letters a week to say something has to be done."
Bogdan, who once owned clothing and art stores in Montauk and throughout the Hamptons, said he was inspired by the turnout at the work session and said he wants to see that type of unity continue.
"In 45 years, I've never seen Montauk come together like that on one issue," he said. "I want the group to mainly support the town board to combat and solve these problems and keep the members up to date on what's happening, and I want us to contact different cities and other locations to see how they've solved these types of problems."
Anyone wishing to join Montauk United is asked to visit montaukunited.com or write Bogdan at firstname.lastname@example.org.