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Jan 11, 2011 5:36 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Amagansett Festival Organizers Field Questions, Hear Gripes

Jan 11, 2011 5:36 PM

The organizers of a two-day music festival slated for August in Amagansett faced a steady stream of questions and concerns by residents of the hamlet at a Town Hall meeting on Friday but maintained they would host a “polite” event that would create jobs and bring in revenue for local charities.

At the meeting, the organizers announced that they had decided to shorten the festival from three days to two because some residents had concerns over its length. But that didn’t stop some of the approximately 20 attendees from assailing the two Sag Harbor men, hotel owner Chris Jones and screenwriter Bill Collage, with pointed questions about traffic, noise, crowd control and the potential benefit of the festival to the community.

The meeting, which was organized by Councilwoman Julia Prince and attended by Councilman Dominick Stanzione, was intended to correct misconceptions about the festival, Ms. Prince said. The Town Board had already approved the event in a split decision in late December, just two weeks after the proposal was first unveiled to the public.

The festival will take place at Oceanview Farm on Montauk Highway and is expected to attract up to 9,500 people each day. It will last from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, and Sunday, August 14.

The public reaction to the event began to heat up during a Town Board meeting last Thursday, when several Amagansett residents took the podium to pose questions and air their complaints about the festival, in no uncertain terms.

“This reeks of a Woodstock acid flashback,” Arlene Reckson told the board. “And I think this is going to grow out of control.” Another resident, Helen Kuzmier, said the festival could tarnish the town’s image as a “jewel of preservation” and urged the board to “avoid turning us into a wasteland like most of the rest of Long Island—havens for carnivals, rock concerts, dirty commercial beaches and neon signs bordering strip malls.”

At Friday’s gathering, which drew many of the same critics from the previous evening, Mr. Jones and Mr. Collage sought to dispel that image, saying their festival would be appropriate for families. While they have not booked any acts yet, they said they were seeking artists similar to those on the roster of 96.9 WEHM, a local radio station that features staples of pop and alternative rock as well as up-and-coming indie rock acts. Mr. Collage also said that he and his partner were not seeking “heavy metal, rap or Grateful Dead-types of music” and that they have passed on some “very popular acts” who were available to play but did not mesh with the character of the festival.

“I think there’s a misconception right now that this is Woodstock,” Mr. Collage said. “This is going to be probably one of the most polite events of the summer.”

When pressed by residents about the logistics, including the event’s impacts on traffic, Mr. Collage and Mr. Jones said they had approvals from the Town Police Department and the Fire Marshal’s office, and would have to cover the costs of police officers being stationed outside the festival grounds, as well as private security inside. When asked what experience they had organizing large events, they admitted they had limited practice, but have surrounded themselves with experts.

Knowing that the organizers had previously pledged $100,000 to local charities, Amagansett resident Charline Spektor, who owns BookHampton, pressed them for details and a firmer commitment. Mr. Collage and Mr. Jones promised funds 
to the East Hampton Food Pantry and the Eastern Long Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental organization committed to protecting beaches, as well as a number of as-yet-undetermined other charities.

“Before we write a check to ourselves, we are writing a check to a charity,” Mr. Jones said, adding that the donation will come regardless of how much profit he and Mr. Collage make, if any.

When asked by resident Betty Mazur about the economic benefits they planned to bring to the town, Mr. Collage outlined a vision of the festival sparking a spin-off television show featuring up-and-coming bands, as well as an annual festival. The show, he said, would be in the style of Austin City Limits or American Bandstand and would be filmed at the municipally-owned East Hampton Studio in Wainscott.

Mr. Collage said he and Mr. Jones had hired three full-time staff members already, and are working on hiring a fourth. If the idea takes off, he said, he envisions having 12 full-time year-round employees, as well as a number of additional temporary jobs for the festival.

The organizer also assured Sue Avedon of East Hampton that he would consider other potential sites for the festival if he and Mr. Jones decide to run it again in the future.

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I've never seen such a dysfunctional administration in any municipality anywhere.

They know whats best for you people and dammit your gonna get it weather you like it or not. From here it almost looks as if there shoving down your throats with there jackboots

alls i can say is i'm glad i don't live any where near it

By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Jan 12, 11 8:27 AM
1 member liked this comment
This concert will change the peaceful tranquility of Amagansett forever, and the atmosphere will encourage those who come here for that to stay home. Our community is a friends and family atmosphere, but will be no longer.
By housewife (79), east hampton on Jan 12, 11 2:58 PM
Got five names for you Bilgey, McGintee, Hammerle, Mansir, Loewen, and Foster.
What you discribe as dysfunctional is actually called leadership, it's been so long since East Hampton has had any you just didn't recognize it.
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Jan 12, 11 3:05 PM
I should have said, there is a propensity in the town of east hampton for dysfunctional government and this is probably the worst administration i've read about to date. yepper the 5 you mentioned above should all be sent upstate to share a cell with a cellmate named Bubba. but that ain't up to me thats up to the DA.

obviously, by your name, you reside in that municipality and are also quite obviosly a shill and or hack and probably just looking for some sort of political patronage (i'm ...more
By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Jan 12, 11 5:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
These "promoters" sound like they have no real answers to questions raised.
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Jan 12, 11 3:12 PM
1 member liked this comment
Whether one agrees with the merits of whether this concert should be held in Amagansett in August, the approval process was RUSHED at best IMO.

The previous article (link not above, for some reason) indicates that it was approved IN A WORK SESSION -- ONE WEEK after the promoters made the details public:


There was no provision made for public notice, discussion or ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 12, 11 3:59 PM
1 member liked this comment
The promoters are clueless. A TV show spin-off? What are these guys smoking? .The good news for opponents is that this event will never come off as proposed. My guess the promoters back out because of financial problems before June. The bad news is that these amateurs have ruined the prospects of better organized music events in the area.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Jan 12, 11 4:44 PM
PS -- EH Town Board -- please require that the promoters post a bond for the $100,000 proceeds to be donated to charity.

If you do not REQUIRE this (or if the promoters do not voluntarily do so), then may we surmise that "The Answer is Blowin' in the Wind?"
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 12, 11 6:58 PM
There are also community members being lured in by the promise of a job. They admit that there are 12 positions in the news. I wonder who? If the town board had made the issue of a concert public long before they voted on it they may have had a better reception to it. I cannot understand why it had not been discussed at least at a work session since the Principis had been seen in town hall long before the vote. They gave nothing to the Ladles of Love Concert as they proised. Will they put up ...more
By housewife (79), east hampton on Jan 12, 11 11:19 PM
I would like everyone commenting on this issue to consider the local deli's, resturaunt's and Hotels. This show is going to bring lots of money into the area and help the local economy. It also sounds like a lot of fun.
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jan 13, 11 11:25 AM
1 member liked this comment
On a typical August weekend traffic is backed up big time in both directions between EH and Amagansett. The hotels are booked solid and so are restaurants. The beach parking lots are full by 10:00 am. How would you like to be one of the families who already booked a local hotel that same weekend? The promoters should simply move the date to September to avoid adding to the burdens August brings to the community. They should also run the event one day
and build on the success next year.
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Jan 13, 11 11:43 AM
2 members liked this comment
I would love to go to a concert outdoors right here in my backyard! We never missed a "Back At The Ranch"! That said..it is a different day and that is in the past. An August concert would be a nightmare for all..I don't really think it brings much in the way of business that we don't already have in Aug. Concertgoers that will venture here will be fully supplied with packed coolers etc from home when they come. As for "locals" enjoying it?? Well, most people I know work all the time in July and ...more
By gansetteer (125), East Hampton on Jan 13, 11 4:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Geeez, it appears the owners of the land where that concert was approved are "GOP Loyalists" and now they get their just desserts?

But don't take my word for it. See for yourself........


By Bilge Water (131), Southampton on Jan 14, 11 8:00 AM
OK so what we Kavo were is a concer is a lot zoned resi zntial-horse falm, sounds like adsailout for Pri fipi family. When one allows this on this site how will you prevent it on another site, of course John Kwolenko of Art of Eating must be commended for his lobbying effort allowing him to do catering here in the future, Ladles of love equals , ladles of cash. I love this town, if you have $$$ you can do what you want, e.g. Gordons tear down and Mill Inn teardown, lest we forget Baron's tearing ...more
By BlackDog (47), East Hampton on Jan 17, 11 2:10 PM
Tonight's Town Board meeting should be interesting.
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Jan 20, 11 6:04 PM