For visitors to East Hampton Town — and especially for the part-time residents who almost single-handedly keep the local economy afloat — the sight of overflowing garbage cans on public streets and beaches must be puzzling. How could a community with such wealth, one that supposedly prides itself on its aesthetic qualities, allow such unsightly heaps? How could the town’s work force and its elected officials look the other way? Is somebody on strike? Does no one care what the place looks like anymore?
Durell Godfrey, a Star photographer, does, and she snapped a picture on Amagansett Main Street last Saturday afternoon of two trash receptacles overtopped with drink containers and food wrappers. The image brought to mind unpleasant scenes from other times: fully filled garbage cans at the ocean parking lot at Indian Wells Beach being emptied by gulls as rats scurried underneath, for example. Think too, if you have seen them, of the prodigious piles of rubbish left around the containers at the East Deck parking lot at Ditch Plain, another town property, waiting forlornly to be taken away.
This is not a problem in East Hampton Village, whose crews make regular rounds and keep the streets, beaches, and parks spotless. See, East Hampton Town? It can be done.
The problem in the town is twofold: Residents are not accustomed to taking their trash with them when leaving the beach or downtown areas and visitors should certainly not be expected to do so. Furthermore, the town apparently does not have adequate weekend sanitation and Parks Department staff to do the job. This is an ongoing situation, and it predates the current town board members’ tenure. However, the responsibility for doing something about it now belongs to them.