Pressure Ebbs at Beach

Jeanne Frankl, a member of the committee, cheered “the town’s willingness to act and the tremendous effort it made to collaborate with the trustees.”

A letter thanking the East Hampton Town Board and the town trustees was in order, the Amagansett Citizens Committee unanimously agreed at its meeting Monday, for reaching a compromise on proposed legislation regulating drinking at Indian Wells Beach. But before the session was over, committee members and Supervisor Larry Cantwell, the town board’s liaison to the committee, expressed doubt about whether the legislation was needed any longer. 

“The good news is, Indian Wells Beach has been doing well this summer,” Mr. Cantwell said. “Maybe it’s the kind of law we won’t need at all, but at least we would be in a position to deal with it for the next month or so.”

Kieran Brew, the committee chairman, and Michael Diesenhaus, the vice chairman, also praised the town and trustees, but said the committee’s goals had been accomplished, rendering legislation unnecessary.

Mr. Diesenhaus called police presence “a good thing to have when you need it, but not a good thing to be so visible. . . . It detracts from the beach ambiance. I don’t know that we need the law.” It seemed, he said, that the beach’s popularity among young adults “just fell out of favor.”

Mr. Brew said that although excessive alcohol consumption was part of the problem, the sheer number of beachgoers had been responsible for unsafe conditions in the parking lot. “There’s so many children in that lot,” he said. “The bathrooms couldn’t handle it; the lifeguards couldn’t handle it.” When the committee first raised the issue in July 2012, he said, “the town was already on it. What they’ve done this year has really made it work.” The parking lot is far more orderly, he said. Nonetheless, “it’s not necessarily a benefit for us to pass this law. We’re putting restrictions on ourselves for something somebody else is doing and no longer is doing. That seems imprudent.”

Jeanne Frankl, a member of the committee, cheered “the town’s willingness to act and the tremendous effort it made to collaborate with the trustees.” The town had already installed an attended booth at Indian Wells last year, at which nonresident vehicles including taxis and buses are turned away. That “may have limited the sense that this was the place for a free-for-all,” she said, but an alcohol restriction “may well be necessary to keep that understanding clear.”

The hearing on the Indian Wells legislation, which is described in “Government Briefs” on A15, is scheduled for 6:30 tonight.

Mr. Cantwell also updated the committee on proposed legislation regarding formula, or chain, stores which is also the subject of a hearing tonight. The proposed legislation, Mr. Cantwell said, has evolved a prohibition to regulation. Its details are also included in “Government Briefs.”

Mr. Cantwell reported that the town has issued a formal request for proposals for use of the 18 acres and structure at the former Principi property on Montauk Highway, which he said is now called Amagansett Farm. A Connecticut-based developer had proposed a market-rate senior citizens housing development there, to be called 555. The effort was unsuccessful, and the town bought the property using the community preservation fund. The town is seeking proposals for agricultural-related use. “This is a first step, a general invitation,” Mr. Cantwell said. The committee, he assured them, “will definitely have a chance to discuss it” before any action is taken.

The meeting began with a surprise. Mr. Cantwell read a proclamation extending the town’s “appreciation, gratitude, and heartfelt congratulations” to Herbert Field, a member of the committee who will soon be 90 years old. Mr. Field, the proclamation read, has been a long-standing citizen and businessman possessing “an invaluable knowledge, understanding, and wisdom about the unique history of our community spanning multiple generations.”