A Tale of Montauk’s Camp Hero

This personalized recollection from the retired Hamptons publisher Dan Rattiner in the current issue of his old magazine, Dan’s Papers, sets the historical scene for one of eastern Long Island’s most unusual preserves: Camp Hero near Montauk Point. Now an ocean-facing state park on nearly 280 acres, it was a secretive military base during the middle decades of the 20th century, as Rattiner describes. What he leaves out of his tale is its crucial final years as U.S. government property, and how it almost was sold for luxury residences during one of the South Fork’s early boom periods. At the time, the new Reagan administration was driven by budget director David Stockman’s wish to unload surplus parcels to the highest bidders. As often happens, local officials and representatives protested–including in this case Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, a key Republican ally of the White House. That proved decisive, and after extended and complex negotiations, the land was turned over to the state of New York in 1985. Several years later, the onetime Montauk Air Force Station was opened to the public, mostly “as is,” as Camp Hero. Ironically, given its brush with resort-type development, the site first became host to an early “worker housing” project of the town of East Hampton, which includes Montauk. Camp Hero Estates, as the 27 units were called, repurposed base housing into bargains for lucky winners of a lottery, though rubs soon were apparent. Not paradise, it turned out, but not to be a parking lot, either.

SEE: https://www.danspapers.com/2023/02/inside-camp-hero-montauk-military-past/

Published by timwferguson

Longtime writer-editor, focusing on topics of business and policy, global and local.

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