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Rowdy July Fourth weekend in Montauk raises residents' concerns; town OKs overtime funds for police, code enforcement

More than 250 people, mostly Montauk residents, concerned

More than 250 people, mostly Montauk residents, concerned about raucous behavior and noise in their community over the July Fourth weekend, voiced their concerns at the East Hampton Town Board meeting at the Montauk Firehouse on Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Credit: Doug Kuntz

East Hampton's town board has authorized overtime funding for police, fire and code enforcement personnel in Montauk through the end of the summer in an effort to address parties and drinking that residents say have gotten out of control.

Board members will also examine emergency and code enforcement staff levels in Montauk while working on the budget in the fall to determine whether more personnel are needed in those areas.

The decisions Tuesday followed a packed four-hour board meeting attended by nearly 300 angry residents and business owners who said the recent Fourth of July weekend had pushed them over the edge.

"It's a safety issue -- young people who come here just for the weekend are drunk in the middle of the street and they're throwing up -- there are a lot of issues," Rona Klopman, a 27-year resident of Amagansett, said. "Bars are serving drinks to kids who are already intoxicated. . . . Kids are getting off the trains already intoxicated."

East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo, who attended the meeting, said in a telephone interview afterward that overtime and extra staffing are steps in the right direction, but that more is needed.

"We're asking businesses to police themselves a little more and for residents to curtail the number of people they're hosting," he said.

Sarlo said there were a record 464 calls from Friday morning to Monday morning during the holiday weekend. There were 16 arrests, he added, including 11 for drunken driving, and five others for offenses such as harassment and motor vehicle violations.

There was also an arrest for drug possession, the chief said.

The meeting was supposed to be held in a room in the Montauk Fire Department headquarters, but it had to be moved downstairs to the fire truck bay area because of the crowd.

Some residents also complained about public urination, noise and parking problems caused by visitors.

Overcrowding of rental homes and bars was another concern, with one woman complaining about a home where eight adults, each with two or three children, were living.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the frustration of residents and business owners is a culmination of more than just one rowdy holiday of partying.

"On the Fourth of July weekend, the pot boiled over," he said in an interview as he left the meeting. "All the drinking and late-night noise. . . . The residents are overwhelmed with the visitors, some of whom are behaving very badly."

Cantwell said it is imperative that overtime be authorized for needed personnel, adding that there had been budget constraints in the past, but that those have recently eased.

"We have to try to get these traffic, noise and other violations under control," the supervisor said. "When it becomes a public safety issue, we have a responsibility to staff better."

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