East Hampton Town Hall took a defensive posture after news this week that the private Montauk Airport had been sold to an undisclosed buyer. According to a hasty press release from Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc’s office, unspecified differences in how a deal would be set up precluded the town’s purchase of the small airstrip — something that had been thought essential to preventing Montauk from becoming a spillover destination for aircraft unable to use the bigger airport in Wainscott.
Without knowing the details, it is impossible to fully accept the town’s insistence that it did all it could to acquire the airport. Somehow its vague after-the-fact press release did not ring quite true, since one of Montauk Airport’s sellers, Perry B. Duryea III, has written often, if elegiacally, about maintaining a sense of the old, mellower Montauk.
Considered alongside the shockingly excessive residential development of the former East Deck Motel property at Ditch Plain, it is difficult to avoid the impression that no one in town government is actually going to bat for Montauk at a time when the overburdened easternmost hamlet needs it most. Unfortunately, with a 5-to-0 lock on the town board, the local Democratic Party may feel little pressure to do so.