‘Shark Attack Sounds’ In Montauk, Dubbed Fundraiser, Wasn’t Really

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“Shark Attack Sounds,” a large party that brought nearly 4,000 revelers to the Montauk Yacht Club over the Fourth of July weekend, was described as a “fundraiser” for the Montauk Playhouse Community Center in resolutions passed by the East Hampton Town Board approving the mass-gathering permit, but it turns out that fundraiser, it was not.

“It was never a fundraiser for the playhouse; it just happened to be labeled that,” said Maureen Rutkowski, the project director for the Montauk Playhouse Community Center Foundation.

The playhouse, which includes a senior center and children’s day care, among other community and human services, had no involvement with the yacht club for the event, other than that the club’s general manager, Lloyd Van Horn, asked if it 
would like to be a beneficiary, she said.

As of Monday, more than two weeks post-party, Ms. Rutkowski said her organization had not received any money from the club, nor did the playhouse know how much it could expect or when it could expect to receive it. The week before, she had said a check for an unspecified amount was expected to be delivered later that week.

Mr. Van Horn did not return a request for comment this week. Thomas Horn, an attorney representing the yacht club in its application, said on Tuesday that the figures were still being finalized, so a number was not yet available. It “might be awhile,” he added. He said he was unsure how the amount to be given to the playhouse would be calculated and he declined to clarify how the event got to be called a fundraiser, adding that he was unsure that was part of the application.

The town spent approximately $1,800 in police overtime for the July 5 event, according to East Hampton Town Police Chief Ed Ecker Jr.

The Town Board initially approved the mass-gathering permit on June 20 following much discussion over the size of the event. Later, when the initial parking plan proved to be flawed, the board called a special meeting on July 3, at which it rescinded the original permit and approved a revised one with a new parking plan.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Councilman Dominick Stanzione and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley voted in favor each time, while Councilwoman Sylvia Overby and Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc were opposed. At the time, Mr. Van Scoyoc, in particular, questioned the event’s being dubbed a fundraiser, saying an amount to go to the playhouse would be token at best and that the word was therefore misleading.

This week, Mr. Wilkinson said he felt the issue was discussed very openly at the board meetings.

“We never saw it as a fundraiser,” he said, adding that there “may have been” a line in reference to that in the application and he did not know how it got to be called such on the resolutions. “As we pursued it, we realized it was sketchy at best,” he said of the fundraiser description, “but we didn’t approve it on the basis of a fundraiser for a not-for profit.”

Ms. Quigley this week said she felt the event wasn’t billed 100 percent as a fundraiser and that that was a comment that got thrown in. Nevertheless, the issue of it being a fundrasier was not one of the criteria on which she would base her decision, she said.

The councilwoman did question, however, the town’s process for approving mass gatherings altogether, saying the board questions only commercial mass gatherings, yet non-commercial gatherings such as fireworks displays attract tens of thousands of guests and yet do not come before the Town Board. She suggested the town look at permits based on estimated crowd size, instead.

“There’s something inherently illogical about our system,” she said.

Ms. Rutkowski, meanwhile, said the playhouse expects 
to use whatever funds it receives from the event toward the construction of a new aquatics center—to house a 25-yard lap pool and a smaller, recreational pool—as well as community rooms.

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