By Kathryn G. Menu
While Sag Harbor residents Bill Collage and Chris Jones have filed a second mass gathering permit application to move an already approved summer music festival in Amagansett to the East Hampton Airport, on Thursday night Amagansett resident Charlene Spektor and her attorney Jeffrey Bragman continued to push the East Hampton Town Board to rescind the original permit for the music festival, but were met with little more than silence.
At the town board meeting, Spektor – who owns BookHampton – approached the board during public session, imploring them to rescind a mass gathering permit approved for the festival in December.
Spektor cited numerous emails sent to the town board from residents throughout East Hampton opposing not just the festival, but more so the board’s “premature action in granting this permit.”
The existing permit approved a two-day festival from August 12 through August 14 at Ocean View Farm. The festival is billed to 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.?
Two weeks ago, citing concerns by neighbors, Collage and Jones filed a second mass gathering permit application to move the concert to the East Hampton Airport. That application has yet to be reviewed by the town board, according to East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson.
Last week, Jones said he was amenable to moving the concert, but should the second permit not be approved, the MTK: Music to Know Summer Concert Series would play on in Amagansett.
Bragman, who represents Spektor and a “growing group of residents and neighbors opposed to the issuance of the permit” reiterated Spektor’s request.
He said he believes the town board granted the wrong permit for the festival, and that it is in direct violation of requirements the town has for mass gatherings, including that it will violate a provision that prohibits the outdoor sale of goods and services on private property.
He also charged that the original application was incomplete, and failed to include information like an itemized parking plan, lighting plan, refuse plan and safety plan, and that the festival has yet to apply for a sign permit, which is also required under the mass gathering statute.
Bragman added in reviewing town records, he does not believe the permit application was noticed properly or formally circulated to the town’s parks and recreation department, fire marshal, and emergency service providers.
Bragman said he does not believe the Ocean View Farm site will be able to accommodate the number of people and cars expected, and said he doubts it will be able to maintain noise ordinance laws for a residential district.
Indemnification for the town, a certificate of general insurance and review of several proposed structures by the building department is also absent from the record, said Bragman.
“To clean things up and get things going on an orderly basis, I think it is essential for you to rescind the permit,” said Bragman, suggesting the board use a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) of the project to ensure all the details are worked out appropriately.
Barbara Layton, who owns Babette’s Restaurant in East Hampton said she was originally open to the idea of the festival, excited at the prospect, but takes issue with the date of the festival.
“It is difficult for businesses out here, and over the years more difficult, and all of us live and breathe for the months of July and August,” said Layton, who added she was concerned the festival could jeopardize revenues.
“We have April to do it, we have May to do it,” she said. “I say, do it in June.”
After several other speakers addressed different issues with the board during public session, and received input for their concerns, Spektor returned to the podium, questioning why the board was not responding to their repeated requests.
“Ten thousand people will have no place to sleep and no place to go,” she said. “The town will be overrun.”
Councilwoman Theresa Quigley said she recognizes this is “a special and sensitive topic, particularly to the residents of Amagansett.”
Quigley said the board did take “a leap of faith” in approving the permit, expecting they will be furnished with details as it moves forward. While she has heard complaints, Quigley said she has also received a number of positive comments about the festival.
“The other side loves the idea of having a concert, loves the idea of families and young people getting together,” said Wilkinson. “The other side loves that we have engaged a public-private partnership to benefit the charities of the Town of East Hampton.”
Spektor said the issue was larger than “Not in My Backyard” sentiments, but that the festival could pose a safety issue for town residents.
Quigley countered that she believes more people can be found on local beaches in the summer than are expected at the festival, adding that the Montauk-based Back at the Ranch concerts attracted some 15,000 people.
“My understanding from the people I have talked to is the people seem to be here already that will go to this concert,” added Quigley.
“It really comes down to that this is not about passion for or against the concert, but a question of the process that has to be followed,” said Bragman.