A promotional photo from last year's Shark Attack Sounds in Montauk, which was denied a permit for this year by the East Hampton Town Board Thursday night.
A promotional photo from last year’s Shark Attack Sounds in Montauk, which was denied a permit for this year by the East Hampton Town Board Thursday night.

The scenic 19-acre former horse farm on Montauk Highway just east of Amagansett, which is known by many residents as the Principi Farm, will now be in public hands, after the East Hampton Town Board voted Thursday night to buy the property using $10.15 million in Community Preservation Fund money.

The property at 555 Montauk Highway, which most recently had been owned by Putnam Amagansett Farm Holdings, LLC, had been under consideration by the previous town board for a contentious zone change that would have allowed a high-end senior condominium project at the site, but it has long been the subject of debate in a community that decried the property’s use for large-scale events and concerts.

East Hampton’s goal is to see the property actively farmed in the future.

An elated group of Amagansett residents wholeheartedly supported the town’s purchase at a public hearing Thursday night.

“Yes, yes, yes!” said Diana Walker of Amagansett. “The thought that this beautiful farmland might be preserved makes me extraordinarily happy.”

Elaine Jones of Amagansett read a letter from her daughter, who owns Vicki’s Veggies, supporting the purchase, but said she wants to make sure the property isn’t used for commercial events.

“We don’t want flea markets there.”

“I’ve been here many times before when this property was going to be used for concerts and high-end senior homes,” said Rona Klopman of Amagansett. “I’m very happy the town has the courage to put the land up for preservation.”

Sue Avedon of Amagansett agreed.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “It was scary for a while. This just shows, when the community really feels strongly about something and rallies the troops, good things happen.”

J.B. DeSantos said he believes farmland must be kept as farmland in order to feed the 9 billion people expected to be on the planet by 2050.

“It could be disastrous,” he said. “We need to figure out how to feed a growing and prosperous world.”

Former Councilwoman Debra Foster said she believes agriculture is the “highest and best use” of the property, and it sends a message that “we support our farmers and young people who are getting interested in healthy foods.”

Betty Mazer described the preservation as “brilliant.”

“Kudos. Wonderful,” she said. “It’s absolutely what it was meant to be. I salute you and so does the whole town.”

The town board also voted Thursday to deny a permit for the 11th annual “Shark Attack Sounds” party in Montauk, which is usually held July 4 weekend.

The event has been under scrutiny by the town since 2012, when organizers received a permit for 800 people to attend at Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café, but 2,500 people attended.

The 2013 event was held at the Montauk Yacht Club, and in their denial, the town board said that even though off-site parking was provided in Amagansett last year, the party “resulted in an increased amount of congestion at the Star Island Road and West Lake Drive intersection..[and] effectively shut down Star Island Road, making it un-passable for over an hour.”

The organizers’ attorney, Lawrence Kelly, told the town board Thursday night that he believed the written denial resolution contained several factual errors, including that the party made it difficult to access the Montauk Coast Guard station.

Mr. Kelly said the Coast Guard was aware and prepared for the party.

“To use red herrings like that in a town board discussion is just untenable and can’t go on,” he said. “I ask the town to delay the vote and have a discussion with the town board and with me.”

The board didn’t delay the vote denying the permit.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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