King James II of England created the Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of East Hampton through…More the Dongan Patent on December 9, 1686. Twenty years earlier, the Nichols Patent had defined the area's boundaries, but the Dongan Patent is one of the earliest documents to declare governing body in America. Though the town is run by the East Hampton Town Supervisor and town board, the trustees, an autonomous board, still exist today.
Still, the trustees manage public lands that have not since been deeded out, such as the ocean beaches from Wainscott to Hither Hills State Park in Montauk, bottom lands, and certain small roads, regulate moorings and docks in the harbors, are responsible for dredging the harbor, and monitoring shellfish and eelgrass.
There are nine elected trustees, and the body elects a trustee clerk, who works full-time out of a town office on Bluff Road, close to the ocean beach, and an assistant clerk each year. The board meets twice a month on the second Tuesday of every month at the East Hampton Town Hall and on the fourth Tuesday of every month at its office.