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Montauk United citizens group goes from town’s foe to friend

Tom Bogdan, who launched Montauk United after the

Tom Bogdan, who launched Montauk United after the hamlet experienced rowdy summer visitors, says the group wants to work with East Hampton Town officials to improve quality-of-life issues in the community. Aug. 4, 2015. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Montauk United — a citizens group formed to pressure East Hampton Town officials to protect the quiet hamlet from disruptive summertime visitors — is refocusing its efforts now that the organizer says calm has been restored.

Tom Bogdan, a retired businessman who has lived in Montauk for more than 45 years, said he started the “apolitical” group last year after the revelry in the hamlet’s downtown area during the Fourth of July weekend in 2015 led to a record number of police complaints.

He told members of the East Hampton Town Board about the Montauk United reboot during a work session last week.

Bogdan set out to get 1,000 Montauk residents to sign up after hundreds of home and business owners demanded that there be no repeat of incidents that reportedly included young people urinating in streets, littering and intoxicated revelers walking around like “zombies.”

More than 1,100 joined Montauk United, Bogdan said. A town crackdown on bar and share house overcrowding, parking and noise turned things around by this summer, but Bogdan said he thought the group should stay in place, with a less adversarial relationship with the board.

He said the group will advise the board of a host of quality-of-life issues experienced by Montauk residents every day.

Bogdan told the town board that the group is now focused on providing a “public service” to the members as they go forward.

Its first project was a survey of more than 2,000 Montauk property owners, who were asked about issues ranging from what the village green should be used for to whether liquor should be sold after 2 a.m.

The results of the $20,000 study, conducted by a market research professional and paid for with donations, were presented to the board at the work session. The survey was sent out to 3,800 property owners and 2,200 responded. Participants could add subjective comments and write in other issues they felt should be addressed.

“The results are thought-provoking and absolutely interesting,” Bogdan said. “It’s the first one done of its kind, we think.”

In the survey, which was also available online, it said, “The purpose of the survey is to understand for the first time who we are, what we think, the importance of social, political and environmental issues affecting our lives, and how best to proceed in the future.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said the responses reinforced his concept of Montauk property owners as very passionate, with an extraordinary sense of pride in the community.

Bogdan said the survey allows the board to hear the concerns of a large group of residents and prioritize problems.

“What’s important now is all of Montauk,” he said.


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