Trustees Call Beer on Beach Ban Too Broad

The East Hampton Town Trustees are holding firm in their opposition to the town board’s proposed ban on the consumption of alcoholic beverages within 2,500 feet in either direction from the road ends at Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue Beaches, Amagansett.

At their meeting on Tuesday night, the trustees distributed a letter to that effect, directed to Supervisor Larry Cantwell and the board members. The letter did, however, acknowledge “the concerns expressed by bathers at Indian Wells Beach,” which many residents say has been marked, in recent years, by large crowds of intoxicated young adults and the behavior that often results, including public urination, litter, and noise.

Instead, the trustees offered, via a section of the code addressing peace and good order, “a posting at the road end of Indian Wells Highway to advise of a prohibition on open alcohol within 500 feet east and west of said road end,” between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekends and federal holidays from the Thursday before Memorial Day to Sept. 15.

The trustees said police — “an officer or officers” — should be stationed at the beach during the hours of prohibition as well, and “any and all other existing regulations pertaining to disorderly conduct should be posted.”

Their offer applies only to Indian Wells Beach, although the town board has indicated that both beaches should be addressed.

Beachgoers’ accounts of “exceedingly poor behavior,” the letter read, is challenged by other reports that “the behavior is not as prevalent as reported.” The trustees noted their fear of setting a precedent for yet more beach restrictions. “Others wonder,” the letter read, “why the newsworthy boisterous and unruly conduct resulting from the excessive noise, crowds and alcohol in Montauk,” where the trustees do not have jurisdiction, “has not been adequately addressed prior to initiating more regulations on the beach.”

The debate continued at the meeting, with Rona Klopman and Diana Walker, both of Amagansett, and Sue Avedon of East Hampton arguing for an alcohol ban. Stuart Vorpahl, a former trustee, and Ira Barocas, who ran unsuccessfully for the trustee board last year, spoke against it.

“A lot of people with kids don’t want to go to Indian Wells Beach,” Ms. Klopman said.

“But it did get better,” said Stephanie Forsberg, a trustee, referring to last year’s town-implemented stepped-up enforcement and changes to the parking lot. 

“I would be agreeable to this, with enforcement,” Deborah Klughers, a trustee, said. “Just don’t make another law and add on to the five that aren’t being enforced.”

But, said Mr. Barocas, “we are penalizing the many for the actions of a few.”

In other business, Ms. Forsberg told her colleagues that water-quality sampling performed in conjunction with Christopher Gobler of Stony Brook University has resumed. Mr. Gobler, she said, has requested permission to add a new sampling method called solid phase absorption toxin tracking, or SPATT. SPATT is a method for monitoring toxic algal blooms and shellfish contamination employing adsorption of biotoxins onto porous synthetic resin-filled sachets, which are then extracted and analyzed. Mr. Gobler recommended Three Mile Harbor for the sampling, Ms. Forsberg said.

Mr. Gobler has also proposed testing shellfish, in addition to the water, for toxins, and has asked to take 12 blue mussels per week from an appropriate waterway during the sampling program. He has obtained a State Department of Environmental Conservation permit, Ms. Forsberg said, but sought the trustees’ approval. The trustees endorsed the plan.