By Kathryn G. Menu
When controversy first began surrounding the effort of two Sag Harbor residents, Bill Collage and Chris Jones, to host MTK: Music To Know Summer Music Festival, a two-day multi-band concert on an Amagansett farm this summer, the organizers vowed to listen to the community’s concerns.
According to Jones, that is why he and Collage filed a new mass gathering permit request with the Town of East Hampton last week, looking to change the venue of the music festival from Amagansett’s Ocean View Farm on Montauk Highway to a portion of the East Hampton Airport property off Industrial Road in Wainscott.
“We have been pretty consistent all along about being members of this community and wanting to listen to what people have said, and we have done that,” Jones said on Friday. “One of the concerns raised was the site.”
In December, the East Hampton Town Board agreed to grant Collage and Jones a commercial mass gathering permit for the two-day festival from August 12 through August 14 at Ocean View Farm, which previously has hosted events like the Ladles of Love fundraiser concert in 2009. The festival was promoted as one that would boast 20 bands, including two headlining acts over the two days and would accommodate 9,500 ticket holders for the whole of the weekend.
Regardless of ticket sales, Collage and Jones said they would guarantee a $100,000 donation to local food pantries and other East End charitable organizations.
Quickly, a group of Amagansett residents banded together in opposition to the festival and the relative ease with which Collage and Jones were able to gain approval for the concert series. Residents repeatedly asked the town board to rescind the mass gathering permit to no avail.
Twenty residents arrived at a town board meeting last month armed with East Hampton attorney Jeffrey Bragman, who questioned the legality of the mass gathering permit as the event is commercial in nature, yet taking place on private property, which he said was against the town code.
Jones later noted that the permit is legal as long as there is a significant charitable aspect to the event, which, he pointed out, there is.
Regardless, Jones said he and Collage filed the new mass gathering permit request last Monday in an effort to allay some of the concerns about the festival. He added that the festival does still retain its approval for the use of Ocean View Farm and if he and Collage are unsuccessful in securing the permit for use of East Hampton Airport, the music will play on in Amagansett.
Exactly what music that will be has yet to be announced by festival organizers, although Jones said this week he has formal offers out to two headlining acts and cannot discuss who they are until the contracts are signed.
“I will say we will have something that will appeal to people with kids and people without kids,” said Jones.
According to Jones, promoters have been working with the town’s fire marshal and police department in developing the new site plan, which shows the festival taking place off Runway Four, on the southeast portion of the East Hampton Airport property.
“We honestly feel this is a long-term business we are developing and to be quite honest, we see this site as a long-term site we could work with,” said Jones, noting the airport has numerous points of access, from Daniel’s Hole and Industrial Roads off both Route 114 and Montauk Highway in Wainscott.
“One thing that gives me a little heartache is there is no railway station nearby, like there was in Amagansett,” said Jones. “That was something we really believed in — using the railroad to keep cars off the street.”
Jones said instead, if approved for the airport, MTK will look towards developing shuttle service access to the festival site to reduce the number of cars on the road as a result of the event.
He added from a safety point-of-view, the airport is ideal, and offers screening with Runway Four nestled in-between a dense pine forest — an aesthetic bonus, the promoters noted on the site plan, as it will provide ticket holders with a venue virtually surrounded by natural beauty.
The site plan offers real detail into the kind of event the MTK promoters have in mind, one that does not only include two stages for music, but also retail tents, a kids tent and adjacent garden, as well a 5,600 square-foot VIP tent and adjacent VIP elevated viewing platform.
It also boasts over 7,500 square-feet in two tents dedicated to CTK: Chefs to Know, the food service aspect of the festival, which will feature local cuisine and renowned culinary talents. The festival also promises a wine and beer garden, as well as a focus on up and coming fashion designers in its retail area.
Plans show that emergency services will have their own tent, on site, with service and production access planned north of the site, away from the general entrance.
According to Jones, the location at East Hampton Airport also has an advantage in offering close access to nearby studios like LTV, Wainscott Studios and East Hampton Studios. If successful in the festival’s inaugural year, Collage and Jones have pitched the concept of creating a year-round entertainment economy in East Hampton, partially based around a television show featuring up and coming bands.
“Absolutely, that is the vision,” said Jones. “We can make this an area for entertainment.”
In addition to approval by the East Hampton Town Board, the festival will also need Federal Aviation Administration approval, which Jones said the festival is already working on securing.
As for the town board, according to a representative of Supervisor Bill Wilkinson’s office, the supervisor has yet to review the plans and the permit has not been scheduled formally for a town board meeting as of yet.