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Aug 13, 2019 12:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Teens Sad To Say Goodbye To Movie Theater

The Hampton Bays movie theater on August 5. JULIA HEMING
Editor's Note: The original article listed an incorrect date for the theater’s initial opening. The theater opened in December 1997. Among the first movies shown that week were “Titanic,” “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “Mouse Hunt,” and “Scream 2.”
Aug 13, 2019 3:54 PM

In the summer, Hampton Bays is at its annual peak. As tourists flock to the beach, villages and hamlets throughout eastern Long Island are full of movement. With farmers markets, art shows, outdoor concerts and more, there is rarely a dull moment.

But with every gorgeous sunset comes a reminder: Winter is coming.

“Welcome to the dead zone,” Hampton Bays High School student Schuyler Dorchak, 18, said last year while writing about the winter months for the school’s student newspaper, The Tide.

The list of things to do after school and places to go during the offseason is short, and with the end of football games and the start of colder weather, people migrate inside to hibernate socially.

The Hampton Bays United Artists movie theater has always been a steady alternative, a place of refuge for area teens since it first opened in 1997. But, soon, the theater will cease to exist: The building’s owners have plans to convert the theater into a CVS drug store.

The movie theater has been a meeting place for friends, a place to work, the home of first dates and senior “promposals”—elaborate and often staged invitations from one person to another to attend an upcoming prom.

Many saw their first movie there and can even remember the first movie they saw at the theater.

“My childhood is ruined,” Hampton Bays resident Sam Fennelly, 17, said. “I saw my first ‘Toy Story’ in there, my first Disney movie.”

“I feel like its removal is going to be a big hit to the town, since they’re taking away one of the only things to do here,” said 17-year-old Marissa Kennedy. “People who have transportation can go to other towns to see movies. But if you’re someone who can’t drive, like teens or kids, it’s so much easier to have a place in town you can walk or ride your bike to.”

The movie theater is a staple in Hampton Bays, and many teens can’t imagine living without it. After all, the theater was a place to come together for all kinds of things. Other than dates and hanging out, it was also the central spot of early birthday celebrations.

“I feel like something is being taken from Hampton Bays,” said Adriana Cozar, 18, another hamlet resident. “That’s where I made friends, and where we all immediately went to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night.”

The movie theater was a place of romance for many teens, including Christina Pasca, 19, of Hampton Bays, who will remember it long after it closes as the place of her senior “promposal” in 2017. Benjamin Sohtz, who worked at the theater at the time, posted his prom invitation on the theater’s marquee. She accepted.

“It was so much fun,” she said, “It made for a good memory.”

“It’s just really dumb because there’s nothing to do in this town already, and we don’t need another pharmacy,” said Lily Candelaria, 17, of Hampton Bays.

A pre-submission site plan application for the CVS was received by the Town of Southampton on May 13. The lease for the new drug store is 20 years long, with four extensions each for five years.

The fact that the theater might be closing in order to build a third pharmacy in Hampton Bays is what upsets the teens of Hampton Bays the most.

“I honestly have no idea why it’s closing down to build a CVS, personally. I hate it because I live here, and if it closes, the closest [theater] is 30 minutes away,” 12-year-old Zakaria Chami said.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Tekyla Murphy, 17, added. “I had so many firsts there. I had my first date, my first kiss and even my first breakup there. I will definitely miss it because it holds so many memories.”

Julia Heming, a Hampton Bays High School student and a member of the staff of its newspaper, The Tide, is a summer intern for The Press.

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Just a sign of the Hamptons times. Look at the photo - they can't even get the letters to be straight on the board. Innovate or perish.
By Mouthampton (439), Southampton on Aug 15, 19 1:47 PM
I feel it’s ridiculous to add another pharmacy to this town when there is already three. I’ve lived here since I was young I’m 29 now I moved out here when I hit the 3rd or 4th grade. When I was growing up as a teen or preteen for that matter our parents let us walk to the theater as long as we were in groups. We’d do things around the house just to earn the money for the movies. Me and my friends that is. It’s a shame to see it go for now that I have a daughter of ...more
By Colleen90 (1), Hampton bays on Aug 15, 19 2:22 PM
2 members liked this comment
The movie theater has not been there since 1977
By Hampton Bays resident (12), Hampton Bays on Aug 15, 19 2:40 PM
The article says 1997.
By baywoman (165), southampton on Aug 21, 19 7:46 PM
Why not ask the angry old white ladies who protest for illegal immigrant children to protest for your children HB? They won't because the angry old white lady leftists don't care about YOUR kids, only future democrat voters.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Aug 15, 19 4:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
Protesting doesn't make the landlord any more money.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Aug 15, 19 6:59 PM
WHOA. You sound angrier than any "angry old white lady leftists" I've ever met. Calm down, man.
Here's the problem as I understand it.....The building is located in a zone where drug stores are allowed as per Town Zoning. So the Town cannot say "No we don't want a drugstore." What they CAN do is not give them a darn thing over and above what they must give them. Want an extra parking space or 20? NO. Want an extra pedestrian entrance? NO.
And do you REALLY think it is ok to put a 3 year ...more
By baywoman (165), southampton on Aug 21, 19 8:00 PM
1 member liked this comment
By Nukiepoo (123), Southampton on Aug 22, 19 9:11 PM
Yeah, that makes sense
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Aug 15, 19 4:17 PM
I thought the theater opened in the late 90’s? Or later?
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Aug 15, 19 6:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why do we keep bending over backwards for all these pillheads?
By Pacman (273), Southampton on Aug 16, 19 5:54 PM
Why Pacman? Because it's big business and big $$. See this article....

By G (342), Southampton on Aug 18, 19 12:29 PM
People wonder why prescription drugs are a problem when there are nothing but CVS, Rite Aid & Walgreens in towns.
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 18, 19 7:27 PM
I love my neighborhood drugstore Liggetts and hope that they own their own building. Center Island pharmacy In HB had to close because they couldn't afford the astronomical rent increase at lease time. Rite Aid employees are miserable and check out is always slow too.
By colleend (4), Hampton Bays on Aug 19, 19 3:12 PM
More drug stores means more drugs and more drug users.
By Killerfrog (38), Southampton on Aug 21, 19 11:54 AM
Yay corporate capitalism! Amirite?
By 2329702 (67), East Quogue on Aug 21, 19 12:35 PM
HOW STUPID IS THIS? Hampton Bays does not need a CVS, but the theater anchors quite a few other businesses. Where is the Chamber of Commerce? This is the dumbest thing I've EVER seen.
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Aug 23, 19 8:03 PM
HOW STUPID IS THIS? Hampton Bays does not need a CVS, but the theater anchors quite a few other businesses. Where is the Chamber of Commerce? This is the dumbest thing I've EVER seen.
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Aug 23, 19 8:18 PM
Customer traffic to a CVS will prove that Hampton Bays Does need a CVS, at least in the eyes of consumers. Who should tell them they are wrong? CVS will also provide a better anchor and draw to the remaining stores than the movie theatre has.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Aug 23, 19 9:00 PM
Where is the public outrage? SHOW UP at the hamlet and town board meetings! If it’s that stupid, put a stop to it! Aren’t there TWO other drugstores (one mom & pop, one big box, and supermarket pharmacies nearby? This isn’t needed. Mobilize the high school students around this. It’s not necessary to shut up and accept it!
By InnerBay (72), Southampton on Aug 24, 19 2:46 PM
Why don't you start a boycott? I can't imagine the landlord will be happy, but CVS is only going to move in if they think they can make money.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Aug 24, 19 4:11 PM
1 member liked this comment
It seems every inch of available commercial space is taken up by corporate retail outlets. Never more aware than on a recent trip to south Florida. There you'll see a CVS on one corner with a Walgreen's on the opposite corner in repetition literally every couple of miles. WTH? The other ubiquity is Publix supermarkets. These three stores literally dot and dominate the landscape. You go into these behemoths and find acres of fully stocked shelves and only a few customers. Do they survive ...more
By June Bug (2680), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 24, 19 6:43 PM