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Town board votes to hold Authors Night library fundraiser in Amagansett despite dissent

A town councilman voted against holding the event on land purchased with Community Preservation funds, saying it is an improper use, but the supervisor disagreed.

East Hampton Town councilman Peter Van Scoyoc

East Hampton Town councilman Peter Van Scoyoc Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Authors Night, the East Hampton Library’s star-studded annual fundraiser, will once again be held on town land in Amagansett over the objection of a handful of residents.

The East Hampton Town Board voted 4-1 last week to approve a special event permit for the gala, which bills itself as “the premiere literary event of the Hamptons” and draws celebrity authors like Alec Baldwin and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Cocktail party tickets cost $100, dinner tickets are priced at $300 and the event features author meet and greets and signings. The funds raised during the event, which totaled $280,000 in 2018, equal about 10 percent of the library’s nearly $2.8 million annual budget, according to the library website.

The Aug. 10 event is at 555 Montauk Hwy., former farm land purchased by the town in 2014 with Community Preservation funds. Those purchases are financed through a 2 percent tax on real estate transfers and limit the uses on the property in question.

“When we bought it, we made a commitment that it was for agricultural purposes, open-space preservation and recreation and community character,” said Town Councilman Jeff Bragman, who voted against the proposal. “That does not include an elegant cocktail party for the library.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said he disagreed that the event was an inappropriate use for the site.

“I think there’s no better purpose in the community than literacy and the library,” he said during the April 18 meeting.

The board also approved hosting the library’s children’s fair there on Aug. 11 and using the property to house construction materials while a nearby affordable housing community is built.

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