There was nothing outwardly wrong with the scene on a recent Sunday morning at Lazy Point as a well-muscled young man gave paddleboard instruction to two clients. But looking a little closer you would have noticed that the Jeep he used to transport his boards was parked at the water’s edge without a town four-wheel-driving permit. And then, as you regarded the view or dug for clams, you could not help but hear his commanding voice carry on the still air. As you left the beach shortly before 11, you might have wondered as well where the town’s ticket-writers were and why they had not shown up to even politely ask the young man to move his vehicle off the sand to nearby and ample free parking.
This summer, the for-profit use of beaches in the Town of East Hampton has begun to draw attention. Some residents are starting to get upset and have complained to authorities. The town trustees, who manage most of the shoreline, are against it; the town board, whose jurisdiction includes much of Montauk, is less firm. So far, approvals have been on an ad-hoc basis, and some people, like the young man giving paddleboard lessons at Lazy Point, do not bother to ask permission at all. Ordinary beachgoers are right to feel put out when a trailer-load of kayaks or paddleboards fills up their favorite beaches, particularly when many of the clients’ vehicles clogging parking areas are from out of town.
It is not surprising that the beaches would become the site of friction during the summer high season — and that demands on government to do something about it would increase. Another Amagansett spot, Indian Wells Beach, has in the last year or two been plagued by large, beer-fueled gatherings of young people drinking in plain sight (some standing in the surf, no less, or playing a drinking game in which cans are thrown into the waves, retrieved, and chugged).
Let the good times roll seems to be the message, whether intentional or not, of the glaring failure to enforce a sense of propriety where the beaches are concerned. We wish it were not so.