Montauk the "Unhampton" has now become the hottest destination in the Hamptons for the twenty-something's from all over the world. When I am in Montauk, where I lived all year round for over 3 years (2005-2009), folks come up to me and ask, "How do I get to The Surf Lodge
?" I point to a long line of parked cars you would expect at a free "Maroon 5
" concert. The "new breed" come by train, by Jitney, motorcycle, cars and ferries. A few actually private jet or helicopter into East Hampton airport. Now even Christie Brinkley
is reportedly seen at The Surf Lodge
on weekends. No doubt, this is having an effect on what was once called, "A tiny drinking town with a big fishing habit."
Montauk Brewing Company founders grew up locally. (Photo: T.J. Clemente)
Locals are being very vocal about the situation, demanding the town step up and do something. Twitter and Facebook are filled with posts and photos of beach refuge overflowing. World traveling businesswoman Sheila Rooney explains why she owns a home in Montauk. She said, "I bought ten years ago after spending time on the East End from my early twenties onward. I bought in Montauk because the atmosphere was tranquil, the food was fresh, and having grown up with my USCG father, we always lived by the water - that was the first priority for the location of my home. I loved that Montauk was like the Wild West, and things were simple. People would ask me, 'Why Montauk?' It's so far. I would smile and say, "'Exactly.'" What about the present new craziness? She replied, "I'm grateful to live in my private, quiet corner pocket. One common thread about this place, even amidst the summer chaos, is the sense of local community. People here look out for one another."
When asked to respond about this issue, long time home owner Gretchen Spicer Gargano said, "I remember Montauk as a family friendly fishing and surfing village by the sea. It's now turned into a club-crazed town where you have to navigate past the maxi dress wedged shoed, skinny jean clubbers."
Many used to remember Montauk as a family friendly fishing and surfing village. (Photo: T.J. Clemente)
So what kind of effect is this having? PJ Delia, who grew up in Montauk, graduating from East Hampton High School, also now owns a home in Montauk. PJ along with her husband, Joe Delia
perform all over the East End, and have a hit song, "Under the Montauk Moon." She has her view too. "Our crazy little beach berg seems to be losing families--its personality," noted Delia. "Couples and kids keep Montauk alive off-season. They can't find year round homes here. So many have moved up-Island, it was like a ghost town here this winter. In summer, my worry again is that we are losing families, this time in exchange for large groups of unrelated people. They cram too many of themselves in motel rooms or house rentals and they pay so much that they feel they have to pound out their money's worth of fun in the bars and beaches. It is really excessive too. (A stranger walked into our place and helped himself to our shower one day.) The Moms and Dads don't want the kids around that, so they aren't coming back and we're losing something with that. What we are left with is summer mornings covered in red plastic cups and winter mornings with no one walking the sidewalks at all. We need our families back."
Another view is that of Maribeth Holland, a rental homeowner, who proclaimed, "Montauk is on the map!"