Trucks parked on the “baby beach” at Maidstone Park remain an eyesore and a hazard to children, according to three residents who addressed the East Hampton Town Trustees at their meeting on Tuesday night.
As previously reported, members of the Springs Advisory Committee complained to the trustees about the beach at the mouth of Three Mile Harbor, which many beachgoers favor over the adjacent, larger beach on Gardiner’s Bay.
“In the last few years I’ve gotten extremely upset with what has happened to that area,” Phyllis Italiano told the trustees. “Now it’s a parking lot. Trucks are parked six inches from the water. They’re not driving. I don’t understand why — there is a huge parking lot 50 feet away.”
Was a truck parked so close to the water that it blocked access, Debbie Klughers, a trustee, asked. “Absolutely, and it wasn’t one, it was three,” was the answer. Ms. Italiano told the trustees that she has counted as many as 20 trucks parked on the sand. “This is not beach driving,” she said. “This isn’t the Bonac tradition of going from one part of ocean beach to the other. This is just parking. I don’t understand it. It has ruined one of the loveliest sites in East Hampton.”
She also warned of the danger trucks on the beach posed to children. “It’s an accident waiting to happen,” she said.
Connie Dondore, who said she has lived in Maidstone Park since 1982, also came to plead with the board to “do something about baby beach.” Trucks, she said, occupy space on the beach throughout the day while abundant parking is close by at the pavilion and on the road that rings the park.
“This started in 2009 when the town imposed a fee for resident parking,” she said. “People were so upset at having to pay to park at their own beaches that the town rescinded it. But the trucks stayed. Many don’t have resident stickers, a lot also don’t have beach-driving stickers.” Ms. Dondore asserted that the beach and dunes have eroded. “I’m pleading with the town and trustees to do something about this. It’s an eyesore and a danger for the children, and there’s no reason for it.”
The beach in question is not a designated bathing beach, said Loring Bolger, the chairwoman of the Springs Citizens Advisory Committee, who had addressed the trustees last month, “but it is an area used by parents with small children.” She also suggested that signs detailing parking and permit regulations, at present housed in the trustees’ meeting room at the Lamb Building in Amagansett due to incorrect verbiage, be posted, with proper wording, ahead of next year’s bathing season.
Lynn Mendelman, a trustee, said that the “baby beach” designation came about “because it was a smaller beach, not that it was for babies,” while another trustee, Sean McCaffrey, remembered it being known as “crab beach.”
Diane McNally, the clerk of the trustees, told Ms. Bolger that they would ask the town for increased enforcement of permits and access. If people see illegal action, she said, they should call the police and the Marine Patrol.
Also at the meeting, Ms. Klughers brought to her colleagues’ attention the recent spate of dead or dying bottlenose dolphins that have washed up on shores from New York to Virginia, including one in Montauk. Calling it an unusual mortality event, she reminded her colleagues that the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is the only rehabilitation facility between East Hampton and Florida, and that she had asked, last month, that the trustees draft a letter to the town board in support of waiving parking-permit requirements for its personnel. Some members of the organization have received parking tickets while responding to beachings and other such incidents, she had told the trustees.
Authority to determine what is done with a dead or dying marine mammal on town beaches rests with the trustees. Lifeguards and police officers should be made aware of the phenomenon, Ms. Klughers said, and should have protective gloves and other gear. “If this escalates, you’re not going to want to bury these things,” she said.
In July, 89 dolphins were beached, a sevenfold increase over a typical month. It is not yet known what is behind the die-off, but an infection that led to more than 700 dolphin beachings on the East Coast over a nearly yearlong period in 1987 and 1988 is one suspected culprit.