Groom The Village Beaches

Susan Rosenbaum | April 9, 1998

East Hampton Village will put $55,000 into new cleaning machinery this year because last year beachgoers left so much litter on the village's five beaches, especially Main Beach, that they needed a full cleanup daily.

There has been "a decline in cleanliness by people using the beaches," Richard Cooney reported to the Village Board last Thursday after talking with Jennifer Tarbet, from whom he has taken over as beach manager.

Mr. Cooney said beach attendants had "so much to clean" each morning last season, including in the public bathrooms and showers, that often they could not finish.

Beach Rake

The equipment, a hydraulically driven "surf rake," which will need a tractor to mobilize it, can sift out all manner of litter, including cigarette butts, from the sand, and collect and deposit it in a dumpster.

The beaches could be "immaculate," Mr. Cooney said, using the equipment, which can "groom" up to seven acres an hour, six inches down, and hold more than 3,500 pounds of material. The job could be done daily, from 6 to 8 a.m.

The village will pay for the machinery in part with the $30,000 it budgeted but never spent for snow removal this year, Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. pointed out. He said he could "find the balance" in the Public Works Department's budget.

To encourage folks to think clean, Larry Cantwell, the Village Administrator, said a letter on the subject will accompany all applications for beach parking permits this year.

The Village Board addressed a second matter of public behavior - the frequent violation by nonhandicapped drivers of parking spaces for the disabled. To discourage the practice, board members asked the village attorney, Linda Riley, to draft legislation, similar to East Hampton Town's, raising the fine for their illegal use from $40 to $250.

"People are taking advantage" of the special parking spots, the Mayor said. "If you raise the fine, you're sending a clearer message."

Parking Woes

Village Police Chief Glen Stone metz estimated violations of handicapped spaces amounted to "no more than other specific violations," perhaps 250 or so a year. The village wrote about 6,000 traffic tickets last year, he said.

New signs will indicate the new fees, if the proposal passes following a public hearing in coming weeks.

Board members again discussed the larger parking problem - in the central business area. A committee, including representatives from the business community, the village, and the Village Preservation Society, met recently and "embraced the arms," Mr. Cantwell reported, referring to a controversial proposal to install mechanical devices to monitor parking time at the Reutershan parking lot.

All agreed that it was too late to install any such mechanisms this year, but the concept has not been discarded.

Meanwhile, the village will spruce up its signs for the long-term lot near Lumber Lane, and conduct a promotional campaign with fliers and radio and newspaper ads for public use of the village shuttle bus from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Employees of village businesses were again cited as a serious part of the problem, with their employers reluctant to apply pressure on them to park in the long-term lot.

Village officials decided to give more thought to the matter, a more than quarter-century-old conundrum, with the Mayor reiterating that the "arms go against my grain, personally."

Sign Laws

They also agreed to hold a public hearing when they reach a conclusion.

The board will meet again on Friday, April 17, when it will hear from the public on two proposed changes to its sign laws.

The board is also expected to vote that day as well on which of two telephone companies - Coastal Tele communications of East Hampton or Peconic Hospitality Services of Cutchogue - it will hire to replace old pay telephones and install new ones at its five public beaches.

The meeting will be in the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street at 11 a.m.