Bill Akin has stepped down as the head of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk after 11 years at the helm of the crusading grassroots organization.
Mr. Akin said this week that, while proud of the accomplishments of CCOM during his tenure as president, he has been trying to drop the reins for some time.
“When I took the job, I figured it would be two years, maybe,” Mr. Akin said this week from his home in Montauk. “After the first few years, people started joking I was going to be ‘president for life.’ In the last couple years, that stopped being funny.”
Mr. Akin said he had told the group it needed to find someone else to be its president three years ago. Each year, board members would convince him to stay on for another year until “finally, I said that’s enough, it’s getting ridiculous. Now they’ll have to find someone.”
The group has six vice presidents, who have been taking on more of the group’s workload and will now lead by committee. One of those vice presidents, Peter Lowenstein, said the group is grooming one of its newer members to take over as president in the near future. Longtime member Ed Porco will serve as interim president in the meantime, he said.
“It’s a lot of work, Bill put in a lot of time,” Mr. Lowenstein said this week. “He will not be an easy guy to replace. He did such a job in changing the face of CCOM and making us more accepted by those who didn’t like us for a long time.”
Under his leadership, the group spearheaded the drive against an automobile ferry between Connecticut and Montauk, prompting the town laws that now ban such operations. The group also opposed efforts by local hotel and restaurant owners to incorporate Montauk, which Mr. Akin called an attempt to loosen zoning laws. The group’s “Save Shadmoor” rally pushed state lawmakers into pulling the trigger on the preservation of the moorlands property along Montauk’s waterfront.
Throughout its 38 years, CCOM has crusaded for the preservation of Montauk’s natural and cultural roots. Its battles with business leaders and development interests have earned the group many enemies. The battles also have earned the group a membership of more than 700 local residents.
Mr. Lowenstein said one of the most important things Mr. Akin did was to bring the two views of Montauk’s “best interests” together, or as close together as is likely possible.
Mr. Akin said there are still many issues for CCOM to be involved in. Adequate code enforcement by the town tops the list, he said; it’s a seemingly annual problem that was accented this past summer by parking and other problems at the Surf Club. The need to protect the town’s eroded waterfront and the protection of water quality, Lake Montauk in particular, are also on the radar.
“Every organization needs change to stay vibrant,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed it very much and I will definitely still be involved. But change is good.”