The East Hampton Town Trustees got an earful Tuesday evening from residents of Springs, who aired their dismay over crowds and their attendant litter, lack of enforcement of local laws, and, especially, trucks parked on the beach at Maidstone Park.
Loring Bolger, chairwoman of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, told the trustees of multiple complaints about trucks parked on the sand near the mouth of Three Mile Harbor. “As you are the body that oversees that,” she said, “I brought it to everyone on my mailing list that you are the people to see if people have a problem.” To Ms. Bolger’s surprise, however, “as vocal as everyone has been about their dissatisfaction with trucks on the beach, not one is here.”
In fact, two residents had come to make their views known, and some of the ensuing verbal exchanges were fraught. “[Maidstone Beach] is a disgrace,” said a woman who declined to identify herself. “I’ve been going there since 1965 when I was 6 years old.”
“Can I allow [Ms. Bolger] to finish first?” Diane McNally, the trustees’ clerk, asked.
“I’m just saying the garbage on the beach, the trucks on the beach . . . it’s a disgrace.”
“My concern as a private citizen is, we have the trucks there,” Ms. Bolger continued. “They’re not driving on the beach, they’re parking on the beach. And you have this wonderful crescent area where these little kids love to go.” She asked the trustees if trucks could be restricted to the bay side, opposite what has come to be called baby beach.
“I thought, just in terms of safety, you might go down there and see if there could be a demarcation so the baby beach could stay the baby beach and the truck area could stay the truck area,” she said.
Timothy Bock, a trustee, said he swims at Maidstone regularly and saw no problem with vehicles parked on the beach.
“Many times there’s no problem, but sometimes there is,” Ms. Bolger replied. “Sometimes, that beach gets very, very crowded.”
“Every beach in East Hampton is sometimes very crowded,” said Nat Miller, a trustee.
“Don’t shoot the messenger!” Ms. Bolger pleaded. “I’m just relaying to you what I have heard.” She said that while she was “not thrilled” with the trucks on the beach, she recognized their right to be there. “But if there could be some accommodation for that one little crescent . . . God forbid somebody shoots in there and a little kid is wandering.”
“It’s a disgrace,” the unidentified woman repeated. “The trucks on the beach, leaking oil, the music . . . they shouldn’t be there, end of story. This is going to turn into where I came from, in Nassau County. One thing is going to lead to another, and then it’s going to turn into Nassau County. I can see it happening already.” She complained of garbage and bottles on the beach.
“Every beach has bottles and garbage,” Mr. Miller said.
“It’s going to turn into Nassau County,” the woman repeated.
“It already has,” Mr. Miller said.
“If you make a concerted effort and keep it the way it should be, then it won’t,” she said.
“We are making an effort to keep it the way it should be,” Mr. Miller and Debbie Klughers, a trustee, replied in unison.
The woman insisted that no vehicles were allowed on beaches in 1965, an assertion Mr. Miller disputed. “What year were you born?” she demanded of Mr. Miller. Nineteen seventy-nine was the answer, but Mr. Miller added that his family had lived in East Hampton for generations predating his great-grandfather’s.
Frustrated, the woman repeated that the beach in question is “a disgrace,” referred to trucks and litter, and said that in the future she would go to an ocean beach instead.
“We appreciate you coming in here,” Ms. McNally said as the woman stood to leave.
“I think the issue is really about neighborliness,” said Ira Barocas of Springs, who is running for trustee in the November election. “People are taking advantage of the right they don’t necessarily need to take advantage of, all the time, but have. They’re exercising that right . . . and sometimes it gets on other people’s nerves. But they have their perfect right, and I don’t think anybody has the ability to say anything.”
Ms. McNally told Ms. Bolger that the trustees have heard complaints about parking on vegetation, as well as litter. “These are all enforcement issues,” she said. Ms. Bolger said she had spoken with the town board about the lack of signage at the Maidstone parking area. John Courtney, the trustees’ attorney, explained that the town had erected signs with incorrect information in Springs, having neglected to confer with the trustees about regulations. “They had to be taken down,” he said. “They never put any back up.”
Ms. McNally told Ms. Bolger that the trustees have given town officials correct verbiage for the signs, but subsequent correspondence between the two bodies has had no result. “No one has come to pick them up, no one has contacted us,” she said. “And those signs that have not yet been taken down, every sign along the ocean beach and bay beach, is wrong.”
A larger concern, Ms. McNally said, is that “if you start with one area and make an accommodation, that is the tip of the iceberg. Barnes Landing, then Napeague stretch, then the [Amagansett Beach Association], then Georgica: ‘Why can’t we have special consideration?’ ”
What is needed, Ms. McNally said, is enforcement, along with proper signage. “And we have to work on public education to ensure that the user groups understand each user group is restricted from somewhere, and where they all are allowed, they need to get along.”
“It’s about being neighbors,” Mr. Barocas repeated. “The rules are the rules.”
Seeking to end the discussion on a positive note, Stephanie Forsberg, a trustee, told Ms. Bolger she had received more than 25 e-mails or phone calls from residents saying they had enjoyed a “perfect experience” at Maidstone Park over the previous weekend, during which the Great Bonac Fireworks show was held.
“Marine Patrol came down twice and checked everyone’s four-wheel-drive sticker,” she said, “just to give you the flip side of it, how many residents are enjoying it. I believe that section was incident-free that evening. It was one evening, but it was a very busy evening.”