The season might be over, but the summer days at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett have not faded from the memories of local beachgoers, who found themselves inundated by large groups of visitors who were encouraged by blogs and online social media to meet at Indian Wells to “party hearty.”
Throughout the summer, residents complained to the East Hampton Town Board of the crowds and their behavior, including urinating in the dunes and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol. Parking at Indian Wells is by resident permit only, but taxis and party buses were dropping off groups, and in doing so were creating a hazardous situation in the parking lot, people said.
East Hampton Town lifeguards also reported the crowded beach situation to the town board, expressing concern about the safety of swimmers and the amplified music, which made it hard for those in the water to hear lifeguards’ instructions.
The lifeguards’ efforts to educate beachgoers about noise and other town regulations, along with extra patrols by Marine Patrol officers, toned the situation down somewhat, residents said.
But action is still needed before the same problems arise again next summer, Ashley Silverman, a resident of Indian Wells Highway, told the town board at a meeting last Thursday.
“This group started three or four years ago,” she said of the primarily young people who have begun gathering at the beach en masse. “I think what the difference is now is the Internet.” She told the board about a recommendation on a site called Guest of a Guest, that people “bring a 30-pack” of beer to the beach at Indian Wells.
In an e-mail circulated to other residents, eliciting advocates for official action, Ms. Silverman asserted that the crowd has doubled in each of the last three years, and that “young professionals in Manhattan view Amagansett as a sort of Fort Lauderdale/spring break-type place.”
Ms. Silverman said at the meeting that she had seen groups of people walking past her house, to and from the beach, with open containers of alcohol. “I think, by next summer, there are going to be people upgrading from the Jersey Shore to the Hamptons because they know they can drink all day,” she said.
The drinking, she explained in her e-mail, is the real problem, not the crowd. “The drinking leads to a decrease in inhibitions,” she wrote, which makes people “loud and inconsiderate of other people.”
The visitors congregating at the beach, she said, do not contribute to the local economy, except perhaps for spending at bars and eateries. “These people . . . they’re not buying houses out here,” she said. “They’re not going to restaurants. I don’t see them shopping in town.”
But, she said at last week’s meeting, the influx will result in more costs to the town for extra lifeguards, patrols, litter pickup, and the like.
Ms. Silverman made some specific suggestions, to which the board did not specifically respond. The town, she said, could ban drinking on the beach during the hours lifeguards are on duty. In addition, the noise limit at the beach could be set at a lower decibel than at other places in the town: The crowds on the beach set up generators, she said, to play music.
And, she noted in her e-mail, “It seems to me that if your group at the beach requires a generator and concert speakers or a full-size volleyball net, it could be argued that you should have a mass gathering permit.”
Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson reported that he had recently had a two-hour meeting with East Hampton Town Police officials to discuss the summer. Topics included incidents that occurred, police staffing, mass gatherings, and the issues at the beaches, he said.