Wainscott Green

The making of a park

Wainscott Green, the Rick Del Mastro Park, was once the site of a thriving gay nightclub and restaurant. Today it is a park—transformed from one type of gathering place to another—a great local story about the difference a dedicated group of individuals can make.


Known for generations as The Swamp, this spot was the last member of the “Miracle Mile,” a strip of gay-owned and gay-friendly restaurants, bars, and discotheques that provided entertainment, refuge, and a home away from home for the gay community in the last half of the 20th century, with its heyday in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The AIDS crisis and changing demographics and priorities of the East End LGBTQ+ population in the 90s resulted in the closing of The Swamp in 2001 and its last iteration, the Star Room, in 2007. The property fell into disrepair.

The former Swamp nightclub just before demolition.

A Car Wash is Proposed

Almost a decade later, a proposal to build a major car wash at the site was submitted to the East Hampton Town Planning Board. Not just any car wash, but a “Tommy Car Wash“ franchise. Cars would be backed out on the highway waiting their turn to enter. Not only would the noise from the blowers, 15 vacuum stations and the traffic disturb the residential neighborhood, the garish commercial architecture, excessive lighting, and potential for contamination of the aquifer and Georgica Pond was in direct conflict with the Wainscott Hamlet Study which was just beginning. The community rallied and the car wash proposal was abandoned.

The Land is Purchased

Thanks to the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) and a gift of $300,000 from the Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation, the Town of East Hampton was able to purchase the 1.1 acre, commercially zoned property for $2.1 million. The Town demolished the dilapidated structures and removed the asphalt parking lot which covered the entire property. A masterplan for a passive park was adopted and today there is a pleasant green oasis on the western edge of Wainscott–a place where you can sit quietly on a bench, stroll the loop path, and meet up with friends.

In a January 22, 2018 press release, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc commented “We appreciate the generous support of the Friends of Georgica Pond Foundation, and neighbors, who contributed to make this purchase possible, and to enable us to preserve this important property at the gateway to Wainscott.”

The ecological benefits are many, but rain can now recharge to the aquifer and the remaining native vegetation will be protected and enhanced.

Wainscott Green (378 Montauk Highway) is located on the edge of the 2-year groundwater travel time to Georgica Pond.

The Rick Del Mastro Legacy

One of the Wainscott citizens who lead the charge to secure the park was Rick Del Mastro. Rick was a former chair of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee and a spark for many positive projects in the Hamlet. Upon his death during the COVID pandemic, the Town Board dedicated the park to him.

From left to right: Carolyn Logan Gluck, chair of the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, Jen Del Mastro with Rocco Del Mastro , Cynthia Del Mastro and FOGP’s Sara Davison review the plan for the new park.

Hamptons Pride

When news of the restoration of the property went public, Tom House, a former bartender at The Swamp and now an English teacher at the Bridgehampton School, contacted the Town with an idea to also use the park to create a marker/social area in honor of the East End’s LGBTQ+ people and their history, as well as a tribute to the many people lost to AIDS. The formation of Hamptons Pride to spearhead the project as a 501 (c)(3) public charity was accomplished in record time and the memorial planning is underway. Tom House describes the project as follows “The grassy area in the southeast corner of the park is viewed by many as a repository of over half a century of precious LGBTQ+ history, and the creation, by Hamptons Pride, of an historical marker and social area there is a rare opportunity for a kind of tangible poetry: future generations of LGBTQ+ people and their allies gathering again on the very footprint of the club their gay forbears once called home.” For more information, visit HamptonsPRIDE.org.

A small committee including FOGP, monitors the park and works to implement the masterplan. More native plantings to better buffer the park from Rt. 27 and more teak benches are needed. Tax deductible funds can be contributed for these purpose. Contact info@friendsofgeorgicapond.org

Funds are needed for more native plantings and a few more teak benches.

Our community is indeed fortunate to have the CPF to acquire threatened property for open space and preservation. Wainscott Green, the Rick Del Mastro park, is just one example of a recent acquisition in the Georgica Pond watershed and would not have been possible without the following people:

The Town of East Hampton: Peter Van Scoyoc, Larry Cantwell, David Lys, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, Sylvia Overby, Jeff Bragman, Scott Wilson, Steve Lynch, and Tony Littman.

The following citizens and organizations: Sally Sunshine, Carolyn Logan Gluck, Dennis & Barbara D’Andrea, Jane Weigley, Si Kinsella, Tom House, the Reverend Rob Stuart, Cynthia Del Masto, Jen Del Mastro, Edwina Von Gal, the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee (WCAC), Landscape Details and Michael Derrig, The Tripoli Gallery, The Wainscott Tree Society.