First they invaded Montauk, turning the once-quaint fishing village into the Hamptons lite. Now they’re taking over Greenport, Southold, Mattituck and Cutchogue.
Residents of Long Island’s North Fork are furious about a post-pandemic influx of tourists and transplants turning their jut of land into a crowded playground for tone-deaf city folk, aka “cityiots.” They party hard in their Airbnbs, drunkenly hop from vineyard to vineyard in private shuttles, callously clog local roads and grocery stores and then decide to extend their stay by building a McMansion.
“Years ago [visitors] were like osprey birds; they were pretty quiet and you would just see them down by the water over the summer, ”Ben Heins, 45, a Mattituck resident and lifelong North Forker told The Post. “But now they’re like seagulls; they’re all over the place and they crap on everything. ”
Though the affluent region has been transforming from farmlands to a getaway destination for decades – with the breweries, wineries and trendy bars that come with such development – locals say the post-COVID wave has been especially brutal. Outsiders are infiltrating in greater numbers and staying longer than ever before.
“It’s becoming the Hamptons 2.0,” said Cutchogue Civic Association member Steve Starroff, who noted that residents feel they can no longer enjoy the fork themselves. The natural beauty is marred by crowds, and towns like Greenport are now packed as Midtown blocks. “It feels like an invasion now, and it wasn’t like this 10 years ago.”
But what really gets under the skin of locals is when newcomers treat them like dimwitted bumpkins.
“There’s a lack of respect,” Greenport firefighter Bob Corwin, 50, told The Post. “[New arrivals] say they love it here, but want to change everything about the place. ”
They’re also just blatantly inconsiderate, according to Corwin, whose family first settled on the fork in the 1600s.
“It’s not uncommon to hear [tourists] say locals should stay out of the grocery stores on weekends, ”he said. Corwin told of one recent transplant who moved next to his fire house, only to start complaining about its longstanding siren soon after. Meanwhile, other newbies are reluctant to pull over to allow firetrucks or other emergency vehicles to pass when out on a call, as is customary.
In a community of mostly one-lane roads, that’s just the beginning of roadside complaints.
“The traffic has become a nightmare on the weekends. An absolute nightmare. I can’t make a left turn onto our main road most times, ”said Starroff, adding that locals now avoid the beautiful Greenport waterfront during the summer because it’s becoming so flooded with out-of-towners.
“It’s their attitude that we shouldn’t be [in Greenport] on the weekends. They’re like, ‘We’re here, that’s our time,’ ”Corwin said. “If you say hello to someone on the street they’ll look at you like you’re crazy.”
As a rescue worker, Corwin is also privy to the seedy side effects of Greenport becoming a bachelor and bachelorette party haven.
“Our call volume goes up on weekends now and we can almost guarantee it’s always something to do with alcohol,” he said.
Previously, townies could take comfort in the fact that it would all end after Labor Day, but no longer.
“We had something called‘ tumbleweed Tuesday, ’which is when all the locals would go out on the town and celebrate the tourists leaving – restaurants would even have specials and deals,” Starroff said. “But we haven’t had ‘tumbleweed Tuesday’ for a few years now because everybody seems to be sticking around.”
If that’s moving up, then they’re moving out
Brewster McCall, who runs McCall Wines and and a beef farm in Cutchogue with his father, Russ, is unhappy about the massive new homes those who choose to stay are building.
“They look like garbage,” he said bluntly of the “McMansions from the Hamptons that max out their lot and put up a wall between them and the neighbors.”
McCall’s family first settled the area in the 1800s and secured land trusts in the 1990s to prevent condos being built on what’s now their farm and vineyard. He’s not anti-tourist or against changing with the times, but he insists that newcomers be respectful of the area. To that end, he doesn’t seat large groups or allow buses on his property.
Adding to locals’ fears are a slew of three hotels – some multistory – set to go up in Southold, Mattituck, and Cutchogue, according to the Suffolk Times. Yet another hotel is being proposed in the heart of Greenport.
“I’m going to stick it out as long as I can, but one day it’s going to be too much,” Corwin said, mentioning that he’ll be moving somewhere down south when the inevitable time comes. “[Moving away] would hurt, but I’m prepared for it because it’s inevitable. ”