Homeowners Ask for Preserve On Napeague

$25,000 offer follows public beach possibility

    The East End Dunes Residents Association, which represents Napeague homeowners on land adjacent to a 38-acre oceanfront tract owned by the town, asked the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday to designate most of the site as a nature preserve.
    In a formal application, the association nominated the property for the designation. Should that occur, a spokesman for the group said, the association would donate $25,000 to the town within five business days. The spokesman, Mike Sterlacci, said the money could go to the creation of a management plan for the preserve and to help pay the costs of stewardship, such as the clearing of invasive plants.
    With crowding at town beaches a topic this summer, Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley has revived discussion of new, public bathing beaches. After Mr. Sterlacci made his presentation, Ms. Quigley said, “I personally have a problem with neighbors contributing money for an adjoining preserve to ensure that nobody else gets on it, because it smacks of exclusivity, It smacks of taking ownership of it in your heart.”
     The town bought the property, just west of the Lobster Roll restaurant, for approximately $8 million 12 years ago. At the time it also swapped some land with the restaurant’s owners, envisioning a parking area and wooden walkway leading over the dunes to the beach. The town has been unable, however, to get permission for that from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
    The group had appeared before the board in October following a discussion about using part of the property for a parking lot for a new, lifeguarded beach. Members of the group voiced concerns about traffic and the potential for environmental damage.
    On Tuesday, however, Mr. Sterlacci told the board that the site meets seven of eight criteria listed in the town code for designation as a nature preserve. They include the existence of freshwater or saltwater wetlands or ponds, habitats for endangered, threatened, or rare species, geological features such as bluffs or dunes, or “outstanding examples of natural communities.” The code requires the Town Planning or Natural Resources Departments to determine if a property meets those criteria.
    If so, the town board must hold a public hearing on the designation within 45 days, and it may then dedicate “part, all, or none of the town-owned property discussed” as a nature preserve.
    Once declared a nature preserve, a property may not be cleared or improved without a public hearing first taking place, unless, according to the code, the work is to “enhance educational or wilderness experiences” or to “provide opportunities that facilitate the purposes” outlined in a management plan for the site. A majority-plus-one vote of the board is required to proceed with any work discussed at a hearing or to lease or sell nature preserve property.
    Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson asked Mr. Sterlacci at the meeting what the association envisions should the town make the nature preserve designation. “Does that in your mind preclude making it a public beach?” he asked. “And when we say it is a public beach, that means parking, lifeguards, bathrooms.” Mr. Sterlacci replied that the town would be free to pursue any allowable avenues.
    Later in the meeting, Mr. Sterlacci was asked by Mr. Wilkinson if the group would be willing to make the $25,000 donation if it were to be used at another town nature preserve. He said that was possible.
    The board also discussed the possibility of selling naming rights for town assets such as nature preserves after Mr. Wilkinson told the board that someone, whom he declined to name, had approached him about naming the Napeague site.


Comments

I agree with Town Councilwoman Theresa Quigley. One can see exactly what's going on here. Next thing, no trespassing signs on the property!
Add the beach access with moderate-sized parking . . . . then make the rest of the parcel a nature preserve!!!!
I have lived here a long time the residents of this area already believe this beach to belong to "them" I fish on the beach sometimes with my very well behaved cleaned up after dogs. I have been harassed on more than one occasion . Why should East Hampton and Montauk bear the burden of public beaches? Time to spread the crowds.
if it stays as a public nature preserve then Im all for it. if they do this to build another beach I am VERY against it or use the designation to claim ownership of the land, that is no good. keep it fresh, clean, as is but to be used by everyone!
No, just keep letting everyone and anyone keep flocking into the townships and villages of East Hampton and use the resources anyway they see fit to. Along the strecth cars parking causing traffic issues. Now they are on the other side crossing 27 to get to the beaches not having beach permits. In Montauk, parking along 27 front of Kirk Park and Umbrella Beach Parking lot. None sticker cars parked in the lot and residents not be able to find parking due to your stupid new rules, let everybody park in lot, no attendant is on duty to collecting of monies as we have allowed anyone to park there. And sign's put along the roadside stating no parking to corner, but yet the road is full of cars and no tickets being issued. Dunes being walked across people not using the pathways through the dunes, beach garbage cans overflowing, yes let us just let them keep coming and do what they want. You jackasses will wake up one day soon hopefully. More than likely when it is to late.
Selfish people keeping the beach for selfish reasons exist at Napeague and should not be allowed to dictate to the public. Where is the logic in this when we have so many nature preserves now? It is transparent that this is a ruse to keep people away. I hope it doesn't happen for the better of the citizens. We pay taxes and have a right to go to the beach even if these selfish people don't want the 'great unwashed' near them. It is sick that this is even being considered.
The beach has already been officially named during the 2003 town board as the "William Patrick Flynn Memorial Beach". Thus named after East Hampton Town's sole combat fatality in Vietnam. Barry W. Leach District Commander Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States