With a stamp of approval on Tuesday, the East Hampton Town Board set the stage for a three-day music festival to hit Amagansett in August, just one week after the organizers unveiled the proposal to the public.
The festival is expected to draw some 5,000 attendees to Oceanview Farm on Montauk Highway on the first day of the festival on Friday, August 12, and about 9,500 people on each of the next two days, according to an application submitted by the organizers, motel owner Chris Jones and screenwriter Bill Collage, both of Sag Harbor.
After the Town Board voted to approve the application during a work session on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Collage said his next task will be to book headlining acts. He said he planned to start by approaching Billy Joel, Paul Simon and Paul McCartney, all part-time residents of the East End. With supporting acts, including some local bands, the festival should feature about 18 performers in total, he said.
Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Councilwoman Theresa Quigley and Councilwoman Julia Prince all voted in favor of the festival, while highlighting the event’s potential economic benefits. Councilwoman Pete Hammerle voted against it, saying it was “the wrong time of year” and “a bad location.” Councilman Dominick Stanzione abstained, saying before the vote that he wanted more time to discuss the proposal with citizens groups in Amagansett.
The organizers first brought their plans before the Town Board on December 14, although Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Stanzione indicated that they had known about the proposal on an informal basis before then. Mr. Collage said Mr. Jones first approached him about the idea in midsummer, and it took several months to develop a site plan and shape the proposal.
Elaine Jones, an Amagansett resident, was a lone but persistent voice of opposition to the festival, raising concerns over traffic and an influx of 18- to 30-year-olds into her hamlet. “They don’t need 10,000 people coming into East Hampton in the middle of August,” she said.
Mr. Collage told the Town Board that he and Mr. Jones plan to donate $100,000 of the event’s proceeds to a local charity—a point that Mr. Wilkinson hailed as a “private-public partnership” that could “relieve some of the financial stress on the town.” Mr. Collage said that he tentatively planned to make the festival an annual affair, depending on how the first run goes, and said he may even pitch a television show based on the event. Both endeavors, he said, would create jobs in the area.
After the vote, Mr. Collage said the total costs of the event are still unknown but will be “significant,” in part because the organizers must pay for a slew of services, including emergency response coverage and security for the festival grounds. The organizers must also cover the costs of having East Hampton Town Police work outside the festival, helping to direct the estimated 3,000 vehicles that are expected to flood into town. “Frankly, I think there’s a very low chance of any profit,” Mr. Collage told the Town Board.
Town Police Chief Ed Ecker fielded questions about the logistics of the event from the Town Board and the public, and assured Town Board members that his force could “get 3,000 cars in and out of there safely.” Mr. Wilkinson predicted that traffic would be backed up to Southampton. Mr. Collage said that he would offer incentives for people to ride bicycles or carpool to the festival, and his partner is coordinating train service for the festival with the Long Island Rail Road.
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