Montauk Turns Out To Reclaim Town From Drunken Partying

Montauk party meeting
At the Montauk Firehouse Tuesday morning

“The infrastructure was never designed to handle the volume of traffic it’s receiving,” he said. “It was never designed for the level of activity we have.”

He added that the town is considering a traffic circulation study of downtown Montauk to see if some of the streets could be made one-way to help the flow of traffic.

“We need to look at this next summer,” he said.

He also told the crowd the town is willing to ask Suffolk County to change county law that allows bars to be open until 4 a.m.

“We need the help of local businesses,” he said. “They can play an important role in security and controlling activity on their property.”

East Hampton Police Chief Michael Sarlo
Chief Sarlo addressed the crowd.

Chief Sarlo, who patrolled Montauk over the Fourth of July weekend and again this past weekend and began his career as a police officer in Montauk, said he agrees with the community that more must be done.

“I’m sympathetic with the citizens in their disgust,” he said. “What I witnessed Saturday night was not acceptable in any way.”

But, he added, the solution to the problem “will take much more than officers on the street.”

Chief Sarlo said the town currently has 63 police officers, 42 of whom are assigned to uniform patrols. In order to add just one more patrol officer’s presence 24 hours per day, he said, the town would need to hire six new police officers at the same time.

Chief Sarlo added that the police are somewhat limited in what they can do.

“Public intoxication is not an offense,” he said. “Police cannot work for an establishment with a liquor license.”

“We cannot put a drunk tank on Montauk Main Street,” he added.

He said the town has been asking people for years to not drink and drive, which has led to the preponderance of taxis in Montauk, which are another source of many complaints.

Chief Sarlo said there are 88 liquor licenses issued by the State Liquor Authority to businesses in Montauk, of which at least 40 are restaurants with bars and at least 30 have music permits. The town police have a link to the SLA’s complaint form on their website.

“We are aware of the presence of drug activity,” he added. “I cannot comment further on the investigations.”

Chief Sarlo said that, after the melee on the Fourth of July weekend, he assigned seven extra officers to patrol Montauk this past weekend, as well as additional fire marshal, code enforcement and marine patrol staff.

“We hear you, and we’re here to work for you,” he said, to a hearty round of applause from the crowd.

More than 40 people spoke throughout the meeting, many of whom brought constructive suggestions that were met with applause from the crowd.

Henry Uihlein of Uihlein’s Marina on West Lake Drive, said his mother succinctly explained the issue at hand to him when he was a child.

“My mother told me to never sell your soul for a buck,” he said, adding that greed has gotten the best of many business and property owners who cater to drunken partiers. “People have sold their soul for a buck…. My parents bought here to make a living, not to make a dollar.”

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Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, 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

2 thoughts on “Montauk Turns Out To Reclaim Town From Drunken Partying

  • July 15, 2015 at 8:47 am

    How to fix this within the limits of the law? Within the limits of the Town budget? And without strangling the Town’s economy? The Town can serve summonses for code violations, but can’t just close down a bar. The bar can fight it in court. Remember the dance the Surf Lodge did a couple of years ago, and Cyril’s? They settled their issues for a fraction of the cost and still go on as before. Parking restrictions on Edgemere are probably necessary for emergency vehicles. Rental registry will hurt responsible homeowners and the irresponsible will ignore it. Plus, who wants the Town snooping around your house?

    Nancy wants portapotties (“the nice kind”) but she must not have any idea how much they cost to maintain. You can’t force a bar to pay for them on public property. But if there are too many patrons for the bar’s plumbing, isn’t there a way for the Town to mandate that the business add them? I know there’s environmental limits on a septic system (I fear Fort Pond is threatened by the Surf Lodge), but does that extend to portable systems?

    Maybe the back door way to do that is to significantly increase the fines for code violations for recidivists.

  • July 21, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Ban taxi’s from operating in Montauk after 1AM on weekends. Force establishments to stop serving alcohol by 1230AM..

    Come down hard and swift or good luck not to much of anything…


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