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Sep 21, 2010 5:16 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Family fights to keep last bit of a legacy: Seeks new lease for Montauk blockhouse

Sep 21, 2010 5:16 PM

A crow’s nest still exists—though it’s now wood-paneled—and cobwebs cover the 10 iron ladder rungs that line the wall below it. There are original wood-burning stoves in the main living space and the first-floor bedrooms. The Lindleys added a fireplace and walls and walls of books, courtesy of Ms. Lindley’s publishing job in New York City.

“They come in handy,” said Savannah Lindley, 23, Daniel Lindley’s daughter. She lives with her father in Naples, Florida, during the winter but summers with him every year in Montauk. She brings friends from college who are willing to live off the grid and work for the summer in town. At night, they read by lamplight and play Scrabble.

A few minutes walk through the woods from the Lindleys’ house is Squaw Hill, a lookout point between Big Reed and Oyster ponds with a shoddy bench and breathtaking view. Standing there, Ms. Lindley said she feels connected to her grandmother and lucky for the opportunity to call the park home. She said it’s changed her life for the better.

“I’ve been able to appreciate and take advantage of all this,” she said. “But the most important part is just that it’s still here for anyone to enjoy.”

And many do. The trails around the blockhouse are frequented by riders from Deep Hollow Ranch, Mr. Lindley said, and hikers. When people get lost they’ll show up on the lawn outside the blockhouse, Mr. Lindley said, where they’ll often be given something to drink or eat and driven back to the road outside the park.

Earlier this month, Ron Glogg, the former park supervisor, showed up on the lawn outside the blockhouse to serve Mr. Lindley with a letter from the county. It was a reminder that the 35-year lease would soon come to an end.

“We always knew it would end in 2011,” Mr. Lindley said. “It was always like a death sentence hanging over our heads.”

Last weekend, Daniel, John and Diana Lindley met at the blockhouse to discuss their next move. They decided to respond to the deputy parks director’s letter and invite members of the department to visit the blockhouse. Daniel Lindley said he has heard the county wants to use the blockhouse as housing for a parks ranger and he hopes to prove that without modern comforts and far removed from the rest of town—that might not be a practical setup.

Sitting at his dining room table last week, under a candle chandelier that was not much more than tiers dripping wax, Mr. Lindley said the family is hoping that attitudes have changed, and that the county government will be amenable to allowing them to renew the lease.

“This place is a paradise and we’ve loved it,” he said. “We’re willing to keep staying here and keep caring for it if the county is willing to renew the lease.”

Mr. Lindley said that in the very least, he thinks the blockhouse–if not the whole park–should be made into a memorial for his mother.

“Montauk has always been about freedom to me,” he said. “My mother got that all rolling. Whatever happens to this house, this will all be here.”

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If there is one shred of decency left in this neck of the woods, there should be no question in regard to a renewal of the lease.

Usually if you pi$$ off alot of people in this world, as Hilda did, it usually means you are doing the right thing, even though it's not the "popular" one.

Actions like her's should not be rewarded with a blade to one's back. Just my opinion, however, and as always I may be mistaken...
By Mr. Z (11696), North Sea on Sep 27, 10 11:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
The lease should no doubt be renewed. Ms. Lindley's actions are commendable, but to claim her as the first "environmentalist" in Montauk is an insult to the Montaukett tribe from whom these lands were stolen. The entire tribe were environmentalists in the purest sense. If this park were to renamed or designated as a memorial it can justly be done in the name of the Montauketts.
By ICE (1214), Southampton on Sep 28, 10 12:26 AM
Hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. She fights to stop others from developing private property, then her family is up in arms because they weren't given special treatment. What's good for the goose is good for the gander - she was thrilled when the county forced her neighbors to sell, but outraged she was treated the same way.
By Houlihan (1), Westhampton Beach on Sep 28, 10 9:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
You reap what you sow. Ms. Lindley wanted to preserve the land and she signed a 35 years lease. BOTH ends of the bargain have been held up. IF the government decided to reduce the 35 year lease it wouldn't be fair, so what aboout extending it makes it fair. If she would have left well enough alone, she would have a miilion dollar oceanfront spot for her family to enjoy for years or to sell and make money but she wanted everyone off the public land and now 35 years later her wish will come to fruition.
By BGinEH (15), East Hampton on Sep 28, 10 12:59 PM
That was kind of the idea when she fought to preserve it.

I would say the park is VASTLY more valuable than any oceanfront monument to excess, greed, and avarice ever could be.

Frankly, I would fear for the well being of this little slice of history, should it be left for the County to maintain. They've done a bang-up jobe everywhere else lately...
By Mr. Z (11696), North Sea on Sep 28, 10 1:50 PM
It was and is a great legacy, and we are forever in her debt. But that doesn't mean we're indebted to her children and, now, their children. I say give them a couple more years but at that point, back to the county.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Sep 28, 10 4:30 PM
And editor, your reporters bias is showing, embarassingly.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Sep 28, 10 4:32 PM
I don't necessarily think anyone is "indebted" to anyone...and I don't think that the Lindley family expects anything from anyone but the county. From what I have read about the situation, the Lindley family just wants to be able to preserve the house (for the beneficial use of the county or whoever) and keep it from falling to pieces. I've hiked up to that house numerous times, and the house IS falling to pieces as we speak. Sad to just let it go to waste. Also, I feel their pain...a home is a ...more
By AGtWandfree (1), Southampton on Feb 23, 15 7:07 PM
Whatever happens,I hope the house is preserved. It's one of the last WWII structures that, from the sounds of it, remains pretty much intact.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Sep 28, 10 4:47 PM
Who better to preserve it, than those who have done is so well, thus far?

Of course, common sense will most likely give way to beauracracy, as usual...
Sep 28, 10 11:38 PM appended by Mr. Z
Sorry, "it so well". Anyone else enjoying IE9 Beta?
By Mr. Z (11696), North Sea on Sep 28, 10 11:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
just curious why the author of this piece doesn't tell us which parts of the park were sliced off,and who the people (with the political pull)are who got the slices of land...
By montauk resident (41), montauk on Oct 2, 10 11:21 AM
1 member liked this comment