Dan Rattiner's Stories

Pumpkintown Bypass: Avoid Fall Traffic in the Hamptons

Hank’s Pumpkintown in Water Mill closed last week, which is kind of a shame because after six weeks of filling out forms and permission slips and getting approvals from the proper authorities, we are finally able to publish this list of Pumpkintown Bypasses.

As you know, from September 15 to the first week in November every year, the stretch of Montauk Highway between downtown Water Mill and Flying Point Road is awash, if that is the right word, with cars bearing happy children and parents who have decided to spend the day at Pumpkintown, and traffic tends to back up there in both directions quite a bit, cutting off East Hampton from Southampton.

It’s a wonderful place, Pumpkintown, with wagon rides, castle slides, pony rides, corn mazes, apple picking, a farm stand full of fresh produce and jellies and jams, pumpkin fields for pick-your-own, candy apples, packs of donuts, hay bales and a barrel train. The kids can’t wait to get there. Their parents can’t wait to get them there. And what’s not to like? They even have their own pumpkin patch that, when picked clean, can overnight grow a whole new field of pumpkins.

Here’s how you can get around the traffic jams that block the Montauk Highway in front of Pumpkintown.

EASTBOUND
Coming from the 7-Eleven on the Hampton Bypass, you turn left at the traffic light just past the Omni onto David White’s Lane and in about 300 yards when the road splits you take the right fork which is Seven Ponds to Flying Point Road, and after it curves to the right you follow it along until you get to a place with stop sign where three roads come together, namely Seven Ponds Towd Road, Lower Seven Ponds Road, and, bearing slightly to the right, Upper Seven Ponds Road. Take that road to the right and go past the first right turn but don’t take it—take the second right, which is Head of Pond Road. Head of Pond Road crosses the railroad track on a little wooden bridge and then dead ends a quarter-mile away, back at the Montauk Highway. Make the left and continue on. You’ve bypassed Pumpkintown.

RELATED: Pumpkintown Valet: An Ingenius Solution to Hamptons Parking Woes

WESTBOUND
When you come through the little village of Water Mill heading west, as the Montauk Highway bears right over Mill Pond, you take the left there, which is Little Cobb Road. It is a short street, and where it dead-ends about 200 yards further on, you make the left onto Cobb Road.

Continue on Cobb Road south half a mile and turn right onto Cobb Road West, and follow that down until you come to the first cross street. That street is Flying Point Road, which is the same but different Flying Point Road you get on when bypassing Pumpkintown from the other direction. You turn right at this Flying Point Road and follow it for about a half-mile, where it ends at the Montauk Highway. There is a traffic light there. And on the north side of the Highway it becomes the eastern end of County Road 39, so you get on that and you are on your way having passed Pumpkintown.

Pumpkintown is doing everything it can be expected to do to help prevent traffic jams. They have parking on the site. They even have parking along a dirt road that runs alongside the shoulder of Montauk Highway, where more parking can take place. But Pumpkintown is so popular, it’s just a drop in the bucket, and when you’re being whined at by four little children who simply won’t give up, how do you keep control of your car as you jockey for a place to let them off?

The powers that be in Southampton say that Pumpkintown is not in violation of any laws. It’s a business, it falls under the category of farm stand where much of what is sold has to be grown on their farm—which it is—and the other activities are not illegal, just fun. It’s what you’re supposed to do on a farm.

We regret that our Pumpkintown Bypass instruction sheet has not gotten to you until after Pumpkintown closed for the season, but you can always clip this out and save it until next fall—or maybe just save the whole newspaper you are reading (and take it out once a month until next season to refresh yourself about the stories you can read in it), and then clip it on the visor of your car over the dashboard for when you have no kids in the car.

As for the town, there are other ways to skin a cat and get Pumpkintown to make more accommodations for the many happy people who want to go there. All it takes is a little thinking out of the box.

Pumpkintown defines itself as a farm and farm stand business. But looked at another way, it is a, um, a town. It says so right in the name. Pumpkintown. It’s as much a town as the Magic Kingdom.

As a “town,” Pumpkintown should be required to incorporate, have a highway department, a police force, a mayor, a water department, a judicial department, a commissioner of public works, fire hydrants, a town attorney and a comptroller. Just like the Magic Kingdom does. (Look it up.)

From this perspective, it should be possible to REQUIRE they become a town. Then see to it that for the eight weeks they are there—it would be this nation’s first “Pop Up” town—they have Pumpkintown traffic police giving out tickets for illegal parking.

What would they do with this money? They don’t NEED the money, I am sure, since they are just so amazingly successful. Just think of it—eight weeks of hard work and then 44 weeks of traveling around the world. Not a bad way to live.

So the money raised should be used to build a retractable Pumpkintown double-decker overpass ready to open for the fall of 2016. Also a first. It would be like the top that goes up on a convertible car. Press the button on September 14 and it goes up and clangs into place on the top of the permanent abutments. And then on November 4 when they close, press the other button on the top and have it retract back down for the rest of the winter, spring and summer. Maybe the overpass could even be a ride! Twice a year it happens, once at the beginning and the other at the end. And just imagine how valuable a ticket to THAT would be!

Pumpkintown. The name just rolls right off the tongue.

And it should have a national anthem.

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