After a hearing last Thursday, the East Hampton Town Board formally adopted new traffic rules limiting access to the parking lot at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett.
On busy days during the summer season, large vehicles and nonresidents would be stopped by town workers staffing a booth at the entry to the parking lot and asked to turn around.
The proposal was developed by a committee formed after residents complained of large crowds at the beach last summer, as well as unsafe conditions in the crowded parking lot, where parking is limited to town residents. The changes are being implemented as a “pilot program” that will be adjusted if necessary.
“Isn’t the ultimate goal . . . to serve as a deterrent for those day-trippers and partiers?” asked Patrice Hogan at the hearing. “The problem is not the parking, but the drinking on the beach. When will you judge the efficacy of the pilot program?” she asked.
“It will be looked at continuously,” Supervisor Bill Wilkinson replied. The goal at present is safety, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said. But, she said, “This is sort of a warning shot across the bow. Everyone needs to conduct themselves appropriately and with respect for our natural resources. We don’t want people to leave — we just want them to enjoy our resources appropriately.”
After blogs and social media touted Indian Wells last year as a place to gather and party, residents complained that the traditionally family-friendly spot was overrun with rollicking beachgoers who were dropped off en masse by taxis and party buses, then set up music equipment on the beach.
Some expressed fears that lifeguards posted there would be unable to cope with and adequately protect the crowds and that their safety was at risk. The situation reportedly calmed somewhat last summer after the town posted Marine Patrol and traffic control officers at the beach.
“I think that the town should use social media to get the word out that we’re not going to lay down for it,” Judy Samuelson, an Amagansett resident, told the town board at last week’s hearing. “We’re not going to make accommodation for buses . . . that we want respectful adult people to come and use the beach, not as adolescents.”
Another speaker, a Springs resident who said he is “probably the demographic” that people are complaining about, applauded the board’s efforts to enact changes at the beach. “As somebody who knows how to put a party together, it takes a lot to get that many people in one place,” he said. “I have to question what kind of little town Amagansett has become. It feels like Daytona Beach.”