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Montauk grassroots campaign tells visitors: Respect Montauk or leave

A bumper sticker created by a Montauk resident

A bumper sticker created by a Montauk resident is aimed at visitors and encourages them to respect the area. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

A concerned group of Montauk residents is taking to the streets -- in a way.

Around Montauk, up to 500 bumper stickers have been circulated with a collective message from residents to visitors: "Bad behavior is NEVER in season. Respect our home. Respect Montauk. (or leave)"

After a busy Fourth of July weekend, Montauk residents turned out in droves to an East Hampton Town Board meeting to complain about crowds they described as out of control. The town responded by increasing law and code enforcement, but a grassroots effort to enforce some manners is spreading as well.

On social media, a page called "Fight for Montauk" became a lively forum for residents to vent frustrations. Keri Lamparter, a full-time Montauk resident for the last 20 years, read the messages posted there and thought about what she could do to offer some support to her neighbors.

Lamparter, who runs a public relations business, came up with wording she hoped would streamline the message and unify the residents. She put the message onto a bumper sticker and working with another Montauk resident, they printed and distributed 500. She said the response was overwhelmingly positive.

"People have said they just really like having the stickers," she said.

Lamparter said residents are happy to share all Montauk has to offer, but they want visitors to share in a mutual respect for it. "As a year-rounder here in Montauk, you kind of put up with what happens in the summertime and the visitors. It's always been a part of living in Montauk," she said. "Over the last couple of years, it's been very notable, just a very different shift in the attitude of visitors."

Laraine Creegan, executive director of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce, said she thinks the bumper stickers are "fine," although she said she does not support the "or leave," referring to the last line.

But she agrees with the general message: "We love visitors but we want them to respect the beauty of Montauk."

The chamber has also launched its own campaign to refresh Montauk's image as a family-friendly destination. A video called "This is Montauk," produced by local photographer James Katsipis, was posted to the chamber's website last week. It shows scenes of a family fishing, enjoying the beach and local restaurants, plus features Montauk's most scenic locations shot using a drone.

"We don't want people to feel that it's a place where families are not welcome," she said. "We wanted to get that message out there as quickly as possible."

The video has been in the works for months, Creegan said, and the timing is purely coincidental. Still, she admitted, "right now, any good PR is good for Montauk."

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