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Wild partying takes a holiday in Montauk, officials say

East Hampton Police Chief Michael Sarlo discusses ways

East Hampton Police Chief Michael Sarlo discusses ways to crack down on rowdy partying in Montauk on July 21, 2015. Credit: John Roca

With only one day left for Labor Day celebrations, Montauk officials say the excesses in summertime revelry in the hamlet have taken a holiday, and that the break was expected to continue through Monday.

East Hampton Town police and fire and code enforcement authorities were out patrolling Montauk's downtown party scene on Friday and Saturday nights, making sure young summertime visitors remained orderly, and that bar and restaurant owners were in compliance with municipal codes.

"It's fairly busy, but nothing out of the ordinary," East Hampton Police Chief Michael Sarlo said Saturday night when officers could be seen roaming parking lots and observing visitors and vehicles.

Local officials were trying to keep a clamp on large crowds after police received a record number of calls during the July Fourth weekend for public urination, drunkenness, loud music and other offenses. The mayhem caused more than 300 residents to come out for a town board work session to demand order be returned to the once family-friendly resort.

By Sunday morning, Sarlo said that from Friday night through Saturday night there had been a total of five arrests, including three for driving while intoxicated and two for criminal possession of a controlled substance. He said 30 town ordinance summonses were issued, including seven commercial noise violations, and 44 vehicle and traffic tickets and 30 parking tickets were given out.

"There seems to be a calmer and more compliant feel to the crowds," Sarlo said. "We would like to think the continued enforcement efforts and consistent increased presence . . . [have] helped turn the overall atmosphere in Montauk down a notch or two."

East Hampton Town Chamber of Commerce executive director Laraine Creegan said more of the same was anticipated for Sunday night because in addition to the ramped-up enforcement, some schools started early. She said some visitors who might normally be partying in Montauk have left or were not coming.

Creegan said she saw firsthand that residents seemed pleased with the way things went over Friday and Saturday nights.

"I was out and about this morning and everyone seems happy -- biking and hiking and coming into the chamber [offices]," Creegan said Sunday. "Everything seems back to normal."

"All is quiet on the eastern front," said Julie Brumm, a member of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, which organized the crowd that descended on the town board work session. "The town board has stepped up and squashed the outrageous behavior. Whether they've gone too far remains to be seen, but Montauk is a place for families."

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the crackdown will continue next summer to make sure things turn around permanently.

"There were a few problems here," Cantwell said of Friday and Saturday nights, "but I think the weekend has gone well so far." He said the number of violations "has gone down substantially from a few weeks ago." Others, however, said there might be new cause for concern.

Lucas Flast, 23, a Belgium native working in Manhattan as a software engineer, caught the train to Montauk from Penn Station with his buddies Saturday night.

Where he's from, adults freely walk the streets with alcohol in hand, Flast said. He said East Hampton police should let visitors consume as much alcohol as they please until patrons start misbehaving.

"There has to be a balance; at some point you have to draw the line," Flast said.

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