Stop and Turn Around

    A plan to limit access to the parking lot at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett on busy days during the season, by staffing a checkpoint at the entrance where large vehicles and nonresidents would be stopped and asked to turn around, will be the subject of a hearing before the East Hampton Town Board next Thursday. The checkpoint booth has already been installed.
    The proposal is the work of a committee formed after use of the beach as well as reports of drunken and rowdy behavior increased sharply last year. It is made up of members of the town board, including Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, and staff from the planning department, highway, engineering, and parks departments, as well as police and East Hampton Town trustees.
    Parking at Indian Wells is already limited to town residents only, though numerous nonresidents appear to have made the spot their beach of choice. Large groups often arrive by taxi, van, or “party bus” to spend the day.
    Blogs and other Hamptons-centric media reporting on summer trends last year touted the party scene at Indian Wells, encouraging carousers to head there with beer or other drinks. Residents who view it as a family-oriented beach complained to the town board.
    “What we had is a clash of cultures, a little bit,” said Councilman Dominick Stanzione at a May 14 meeting of the board. The trendiness of the spot may be short-term, he said, while installing a checkpoint would be changing “the experience of accessing Indian Wells beach to something else. Now it’s going to be under police guidance.”
    The changes are being considered a “pilot safety plan” for this summer, East Hampton Town Police Capt. Mike Sarlo said, and their efficacy will be evaluated.
    While various proposals, such as banning drinking on the beach or limiting it to the hours after lifeguards have gone off duty, had been floated by residents, the committee focused on solving the tightly crowded and potentially dangerous situation in the parking lot.
    “It was becoming a taxi stand,” Ms. Overby said at the board meeting. “Safety issues” drove the committee’s proposal, she said, rather than behavior issues. But, she said, “I think [the new restrictions] might change the attitudes of the people who are there.”
    Despite having several traffic control officers and a Marine Patrol officer posted at Indian Wells during peak times, the parking lot, Captain Sarlo said at the May 14 meeting, “had reached a volume point on weekends in the summer when it was an unsafe condition.”
    Several food truck vendors park in the lot, which beachgoers must walk through to reach public bathrooms, and with the addition of taxicabs, vans, and buses passing through, it was viewed as a chaotic scene.