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Party culture alters Montauk

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

Is the Montauk we know coming to an end?

The fishing haven with its affordable family motels and quaint cottages that created wonderful memories for many Long Islanders has been edging toward modernity for years. The surfing crowd grew, followed by music industry insiders. Then affluent city folks priced out of the millionaire-only Hamptons pushed further east.

Now the demand for artisanal cocktails is greater than that for charter boats trolling for striped bass and bluefish.

Spurred by hundreds of complaints about public drunkenness and urination, and overall loutish behavior, the East Hampton Town board is fighting back. That's good. But the party pursuers and those raking in the dough from the new crowd have a responsibility, too.

The board voted this week to pay overtime for code enforcement, police and fire personnel. That wise move needs complementary action -- from bar owners who encourage overcrowding and serve patrons beyond the point of inebriation, from property owners who rent houses and rooms beyond reasonable capacity, and from revelers whose conduct is beyond what's acceptable. Some stumble off the train when it pulls into Montauk; enforcing code-of-conduct laws should begin at Penn Station.

What's happening in Montauk isn't new. A community victimized by its own popularity struggles to find a balance. Montauk never has been -- nor should it be -- the exclusive domain of a few. But the right to enjoy it and make a profit comes with a responsibility to behave and not ruin the treasure that is there. Then we can return to The End.