Dan Rattiner's Stories

Too Crowded? If There’s Not Enough Hamptons, Let’s Create Another One

Dan's Hampton could solve all our summer problems.

Let’s face it. The number of people who came out to visit the villages in the Hamptons this past summer exceeded anything we have ever seen before. There were crowds everywhere. It was a huge problem. Over and over I heard people say they wouldn’t be coming out here anymore. Too many people pushing you into the gutter from the sidewalk. Too many cars leading to long tie-ups. Parking lots closed because they were full and coming into them just created situations where motorists could not go forward or backward. Horn honking was heard. The police were out, trying to move everybody along.

There were long lines both eastbound and westbound. Some friends of mine spent five hours trying to drive out here on a Wednesday because they thought the roads wouldn’t be jammed with traffic, and they were wrong.

Hundreds of people wanted ice cream cones but there were only two places in a village that sold them. They waited patiently on long lines, fiddling with their cellphones to pass the time while their kids whined and pulled on their shirts. Movies sold out. Tickets to plays sold out.

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Thousands of people wanted restaurant reservations, but there were only a few hundred to be had.

“Please try again tomorrow,” one restaurant’s phone message said, explaining it was a waste of time to talk about today.

One visitor told me, after trying to push through a crowd trying to buy corn at a farm stand, that he’d never come out here again—which led me to think “good,” although I knew for every person who said that there were at least three others from the city who would be trying to get out here next year to see what the fuss was all about.

Is it true what Yogi Berra once said about the place being so busy nobody goes there anymore?

It is the job of the local government to see to it that there are enough services and places zoned for business to satisfy the people who are here. Until now they have done a good job creating this situation. But now it is out of hand. We need more parks, more stores, more beaches, more museums, more art galleries, more everything.

And considering that every possible space is accounted for in our existing downtowns, the only solution that will lead to success in this is the creation of an entirely new village.

And I know, having looked down from Google Earth through the landscape of the entire Hamptons, exactly where it should be.

I also know where it should not be. It should not be at either end of the Hamptons. That will only help the overflow of the last village in the line. It needs to be somewhere between two overwhelmed Hamptons in the center of the group, so it could get the overflow from both directions.

My Google Earth research shows a perfect spot between East Hampton and Bridgehampton. It consists of more than 100 wooded acres along both sides of the curving Daniels Hole Road as it makes its way between the Montauk Highway and the East Hampton Airport. It passes under the Long Island Rail Road trestle between these two locations in that woods. This trestle could be expanded into a stop on the railroad between Bridgehampton and East Hampton. And surrounding its new neoclassic brick railroad station, some to the north but mostly to the south and east, would be the new town.

The new town would have three churches with steeples, a synagogue, a row of 20 stores including chic shops, bookstores, restaurants, clothing stores, furniture stores, drug stores, banks, antique shops, ice cream shops, a movie theater, a jewelry store, art galleries and souvenir shops. It will have a dental clinic, a medical clinic connected to Southampton Hospital, an office building for lawyers, real estate agents, dentists and psychiatrists, and an AT&T store and a computer repair shop. Also a library and a museum.

And it will have a history. I will start with Main Street.

Main Street of the new town will be Daniels Hole Road just before the railroad trestle. This Main Street, having been laid out in the, uh, old days, will be a very broad street with a wide central lawn on which there will be a pond with swans in it, flower beds, a historic old English windmill (bought used from Shropshire, England) and a cemetery. Also on that green will be Dan’s Hampton’s “oldest” house, a saltbox built and lived in beginning in the 17th century by Dan Hopping, the village’s founder and richest man, which is now a museum. Hopping will be best known as the man after whom Daniels Hole Road, which leads out to his town (and to the airport), was named. And, of course, the town will be named for him. Dan’s Hampton. It will be right there on the railroad station sign.

Main Street, divided by its quarter-mile-long, 100-yard-wide village green, will have traffic going westbound on one side and eastbound on the other. Two rows of giant elm trees adjacent to park benches will line the sidewalks in front of the stores facing out onto the green on both the north and south. Where the green begins at Daniels Hole Road, an American flag on a tall flagpole will flutter next to a war memorial obelisk. These things will honor those who gave their lives in the wars that preserved our liberty, and they will mark the entrance to Dan’s Hampton.

At the other end of the village green, Main Street will meet the new northern extension of Wainscott Stone Road, and there will be a statue of Dan Hopping, on a pedestal, 15 feet high. At this meeting, Main Street will make a 90-degree turn to the south and become the extended Wainscott Stone Road, which will provide the entrance into Dan’s Hampton from the Montauk Highway, and I am talking about the OLD Montauk Highway.

This Old Montauk Highway, still in existence today as a vestige of the past, is shown on the map that accompanies this article. It allows for a southern entrance to Dan’s Hampton without disturbing the traffic flow on the current Montauk Highway.

You may have driven on this narrow, curving two-lane concrete road, and if you have you have guessed it was originally Route 27. Many years ago, probably in the 1930s, the authorities decided this curve in the Montauk Highway should be straightened. After they did that, they left the curve, not used. It veers off to the north of the Montauk Highway just to the east of where the present Wainscott Stone Road comes up from the south to meet the current highway, and it continues on west for another 200 yards, merging back into the Montauk Highway without much notice to the west of Wainscott Stone Road. There will probably have to be a traffic light at Montauk Highway and Wainscott Stone Road, because its northern extension is providing an entrance to Dan’s Hampton from the south. (From the north you could take the airport turnoff from Route 114.)

See, I have this all figured out.

Next year, when my plan will have been accepted and this new historic village built, people will say, let’s call a restaurant in Dan’s Hampton. They have tables. Let’s shop in the Calvin Klein in Dan’s Hampton. Let’s play tennis at the East Hampton Tennis Center (already there). They’ll say let’s get an ice cream cone from the little shed on the town green next to Dan Hopping’s house. They’ll say, I need a new pair of shoes, let’s go to Dan’s Hampton.

And there’ll be plenty of parking. Free. In the parking lots both to the north of the railroad station and to the south of Main Street, behind all the stores.

To make this happen, all East Hampton Town has to do—this is in the East Hampton Town’s jurisdiction—is give me a permit to chop down all those trees in there.

What’s more important? A new historic village in which to park and shop instead of city people going to the Jersey shore, or a bunch of trees?

That’s what I thought.

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