Going to the Movies? Beware Parking Limits

The Hamptons International Film Festival opens today with late-afternoon and evening movies running at the East Hampton Regal Cinema and Guild Hall. Tomorrow, the festival really gets going, with programs beginning at around 10 a.m. in the theaters and a talk at the nearby restaurant Rowdy Hall. Movie lovers who get to East Hampton by car had better keep a sharp eye on the parking rules, however, as the two-hour and one-hour limits will remain in effect throughout the crowded Columbus Day weekend.

In festival materials, the organizers recommend that patrons park in East Hampton Village’s long-term lot off Gingerbread Lane. They have also arranged with the Hampton Jitney to provide free service to and from Montauk and Manorville for anyone with a valid festival ticket. Would that the East Hampton Village Board were as accommodating. 

Each year a number of patrons emerge from festival screenings to find pricey notices of violation on their car windshields. Parking has become something of a running joke in the village during the festival; a popular animated short screened before the movies features voices griping about the problem. With many films running for two or more hours, plus frequent question-and-answer sessions following screenings, plenty of vehicles in the village’s main lots wind up in excess of the permitted time.

That East Hampton could seem to care less is evident in the fact that a former village official, someone who had been in public life for most of the years since the festival’s founding in 1992, had not set foot in any of its talks or screenings until last year — when specifically invited. The official indifference is misplaced, if only because the long weekend brings considerable cultural infusion, which many residents and visitors eagerly look forward to each fall. And though some in the retail trade might differ, the festival brings a valuable boost to local economic activity in the form of rentals and food, while also providing long-term visibility through commercial sponsorships. Plenty of big companies, including Audi, Netflix, and Delta Airlines, know the value of the festival and are among the important underwriters.

A partial solution to the parking problem is simple. East Hampton Village should temporarily change its two-hour lots to allow vehicles to park for up to three hours. Southampton Village allows three-hour parking in some lots, and the heavens haven’t collapsed. Unfortunately, the long-term lot here is far from the action, and for those not familiar with the area, difficult to locate.

If officials are not interested in the movies, at least they should acknowledge all the festival brings to the South Fork, and lighten up about parking.