By Kitty Merrill
Overcrowded housing in Springs, sand replenishment at Ditch Plains Beach and the ruckus at Indian Wells Beach. The three subjects continued to be hot topics for the East Hampton Town Board as it held its formal meeting last Thursday night.
To address the problem of young, out-of-town revelers who crowd the Amagansett beach, toting cases of beer, and even generators for stereos onto Indian Wells, disturbing local families and, more important, causing a traffic hazard in the small parking lot, officials decided to place restrictions on the lot during prime days throughout the summer. The measure restricts vehicle weight, length, and passenger capacity in order to stem the tide of limos and busses that drop the kids off.
A public hearing on the measure drew just a handful of speakers to town hall. Most supported the move and were grateful the town was instituting the pilot program. But not everybody was happy. Patrice Hogan believes "We're not addressing the true problem." The true problem, she said, is drinking on the beach; she thought the ultimate goal was to deter day-trippers "from hording to our beach."
Councilwoman Sylvia Overby stressed the ultimate goal is safety. She characterized the new parking limits as "a warning shot across the bow," alerting visitors that "everybody needs to be on our best behavior and respect what we have."
Among those applauding the measure was Luke Weinstock, who grew up on Indian Wells Beach and described himself as "probably the demographic everyone is referring to." Even as someone the same age as the visitors, he said he's been "blown away" by behavior such as using the dunes as a bathroom, public drunkenness, and people throwing beer cans into the water.
The town board passed the bill later on Thursday night.
Speaking to the thorny topic of overcrowded houses in Springs, realtor Alex Piccirillo said it has had a negative impact on his ability to offer properties for sale in the hamlet. Referring to Supervisor Bill Wilkinson's and Councilwoman Theresa Quigley's reputations for bickering with colleagues and critical community members, he asked the pair if they would work effectively to resolve the issue and break the impasse or if they would step aside. (The East Hampton Star had earlier called for the pair to step down.)
Quigley said she didn't understand what the community member was talking about. When he referenced the call for their resignations she said, "I don't read the papers; it's all make believe."
As he has repeatedly done when community members complain of inaction regarding the housing problem in Springs, Wilkinson lauded Quigley for undertaking a comprehensive study of the hamlet. Statistically, he claimed, the "sense of overcrowding" in Springs derives because there are so many more households in the hamlet than in others in town.
Piccirillo clarified that he was speaking of density in individual houses not hamlet-wide. Quigley continued to discuss density in the hamlet, rather than in houses in the hamlet. Pushed, she eventually said, "Our code enforcement, that's their focus."
Carol Buda, a Springs resident who frequently addresses the board about overcrowded houses noted, "We've been at this for years." She'd like to see the town board devote the same energy to resolving the matter quickly as it did with Indian Wells.
Quick action was also requested when it came to erosion on Ditch Plains Beach. Earlier in the week residents of Montauk implored board members to move forward swiftly with a sand replenishing project in the popular shoreline site, which has been closed since before Memorial Day. Members voted Thursday night to begin the process.