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'Patriotism Over Profit' Stand-Off

Artists say they are willing to share the Montauk Green, but veterans group leader feels veterans deserve more.

A stand-down doesn't look to be on the horizon.

Ken Walles, who is organizing a several salutes to veterans over Memorial Day weekend in Montauk, told the East Hampton Town Board on Thursday night that sharing the Montauk Green with an art show isn't something he's willing to do. "At this point, I don't really see a compromise," he said. "I think the veterans deserve more."

The Montauk Artists' Association fifth annual Juried Art Show is slated for Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend on the same green in the center of the downtown area, but could be displaced if a solution isn't found.

Rosa Hanna Scott, who lives in East Hampton and is president of the artists' association, said she has the utmost respect for veterans. "In fact, my son is a veteran," she said. "If we could work together on the green that would be wonderful."

She said the fine art show is listed as 21st in the nation among such events and brings hundreds of artists from across the country to Montauk.

A suggestion Walles had made that the show move to Lion's Field would not work because it's dusty and another suggested move to Second House Museum's lawn was not visible enough due to a high hedge, according to Hanna Scott. "Could you think it over?," she asked.

Supervisor Bill Wilkinson had said Walles put in an application for a mass gathering permit first and that he had asked the two organizations to compromise. Without one, the board will be left to make a decision at a future meeting. "If I have to recuse myself because I'm a veteran so be it," Wilkinson said on Thursday.

Gurney's Inn owner and general manager, Paul Monte, who serves as the Montauk Chamber of Commerce president, said that "if cooler heads prevail" a compromise would be best for all. "I cannot see why these two organizations cannot co-exist." He suggested the board approve both mass gathering permits and let the two groups work out the minutia.

RELATED: Read Paul Monte's letter to the Town Board.

He also spoke of the chamber's fear that declining the art show's permit would lead to a domino effect of moving such events off the green. He said there is a economic benefit for downtown businesses.

Walles, who owns Oceanside Resort and has been a chamber member for 13 years, said that he wants to see, "Patriotism over profit."

"I don't understand why there has to be a fight here," said David Posnett, a Springs artist that takes part in the show and a veteran, noting that there's a large section of the green that isn't used for the show. He thought those that were there for the art might be interested in observing the parade, flag-raising and other events even though they might not normally come out to see it.

With Montauk's rich history, including Third House, where Col. Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders slept after returning from the Spanish-American War, and Camp Hero, the former airforce base, Monte said, "I would love to see Montauk as a place people go to to celebrate Memorial Day." 

Bonac Refugee February 21, 2012 at 03:38 AM
Sorry artists but on Memorial Day The Green should go to the veterans whether there is one or a thousand the Green should belong to the veterans.All veterans have given some,some have given all !!! Memorial Days is "their day",find someplace else to sell your wares.
Chris February 21, 2012 at 12:06 PM
To Sart, Memorial day is Monday, I think it a bit odd that Mr Walles owns the motel directly accross from the Second House. Seems to me he would get a lot of buisness from making the artists move. Share the Green!
Jon Foster February 21, 2012 at 01:51 PM
“I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine. (12 May 1780)” ― John Adams It is the heritage and joy for the vereran to witness the art of his progeny. Have Memorial Day together.
Brendan Byrne - The East End Broker February 21, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I am unclear about something. When did the art show start happening on the green, and Memorial Day observance there, specifically?
Ron Mellott February 23, 2012 at 03:07 PM
This is NOT and never will be an issue of Patriotism vs. Profit, or that if one supports the arts - in this case on the Green in Montauk - that they are in any way unpatriotic. Ken Wales and the CAC hold absolutely no high ground on this and the characterization of Patriotism vs. Profit is disgusting. For the past 5 years there has been no Memorial Day services on the Green on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Why is this year to be different? And if a Memorial Service is to be added, why cannot both events co-exist? Unless the CAC is actually stepping up and holding the event themselves, they are merely blowing a smokescreen to obscure their intent. If there are real issues to be opposed then then absolutely the Board has an obligation to identify them publicly and allow all parties to address them. But how can they not be opposed to an ad-hoc committee that has no plan yet in place for their event to be adequately reviewed by the Board, the Police, and anyone else concerned with public safety? No one involved with this issue does not revere our Veterans, thank them wholeheartedly for their service and dedication, and support the event on Monday Memorial Day to occur. Shame on anyone insinuating anything different.

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