Call for Gansett Hamlet Study

    The Town of East Hampton should authorize a hamlet study for Amagansett, the attendees at Monday night’s Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee’s meeting agreed after discussing a number of issues that they believe are receiving insufficient attention and adversely affecting residents’ quality of life.

    Nine members voted in favor of requesting a hamlet study, with none opposed or abstaining.

    Conditions at Indian Wells Beach, marked in recent years by very large gatherings and conspicuous alcohol consumption, have angered many. This was the first topic of discussion at Monday’s meeting and illustrated the committee’s frustration with the consequences of ever-larger crowds visiting the hamlet in the summer.

    Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, the town board’s liaison to the committee, reported that the town board had codified new regulations aimed at curbing the raucous atmosphere at the beach at its public hearing last Thursday. These include restrictions on access to the parking lot and prohibition of vehicles carrying eight or more passengers or greater than 25 feet in length.

    “The whole impetus for this was respect for East Hampton [and] Amagansett beaches,” Ms. Overby said. “We’re not out of the woods.” She then read from the Web site guestofaguest. com, which has been cited for mobilizing throngs of young adults to gather at the beach with large quantities of alcohol. “Indian Wells,” a post on the site read in part, “has become the de facto beach to bring your brew-skies and your bro-skies for a day of fun.”

    “This big, raucous ‘bro’ party,” Kieran Brew, the committee’s chairman, predicted, “is going to get gradually less and less well behaved.”

    “You’ve done a wonderful job,” Joan Tulp, of the committee, said to Ms. Overby. “But I still think prohibiting alcohol during the beach day is the only answer to it. They’re walking 40-abreast, coming down [Indian Wells Highway]. We can’t stop that.” Some people have also brought dogs to the beach during prohibited hours, she said. 

    “This is a shot across the bow,” Ms. Overby said of the new restrictions. “My point of view is everybody should have an opportunity to use the beach. But you cannot ruin the enjoyment that other people have of the beach. . . . If you ruin that for everyone, we can keep going.” Ms. Tulp’s suggestion to ban alcohol had support among other committee members, and Mr. Brew suggested lower tolerance and stricter enforcement of the prohibition of glass on the beach.

    The perennial topic of a proposed public restroom in the hamlet led to consideration of a hamlet study. Such a project remains a back-burner issue for the town, Ms. Overby said, though it is considering different locations than the one proposed, adjacent to the parking lot north of Main Street in the commercial district.

    Delaying construction of a public restroom, which could result in the loss of six spaces in the parking lot, may produce a better outcome in the long run, Ms. Overby said. “There are pieces of property that are for sale or that we might be able to buy development rights off of, or land swaps,” she said. “There was another way I was looking at trying to reconfigure that parking lot, because the aisle is so wide — it was supposed to be a road at one time.” She referred to discussions with town officials aimed at avoiding a net loss in parking, which some merchants feel is already inadequate.

    “Should we be looking at the bigger picture?” Mr. Brew asked the committee. “Should we be looking at what the overall picture of Amagansett should be like?”

    The Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee, Ms. Overby said, has also requested a hamlet study. “You might want to write a letter to the town board saying, ‘We’re ready for our hamlet study because these are things we feel we’re missing,’ ” she suggested, adding that the committee members should compile a list of topics such a study would address.

    Mr. Brew instructed attendees to come to the committee’s next meeting, scheduled for July 8, with items they would like addressed. There was no shortage of suggestions at Monday’s meeting, however. Traffic flow, including bikes and pedestrians; affordable housing; drainage problems on the roads; code enforcement, including share houses; beach and business parking; public transportation and designation of a transportation hub for the hamlet; vistas and open spaces; zoning and land use; overcrowded and additional beaches, and the aforementioned restroom were among the issues cited by committee members. Mr. Brew also mused about a consolidation that would bring the post office and train station closer to the commercial district.

    The committee also nominated and elected officers at its meeting. Mr. Brew will remain as chairman. Sheila Okin, who had initially declined a renomination as vice chairwoman, agreed to continue in that role. Susan Bratton was nominated, and agreed, to serve as the committee’s secretary. They will remain in these roles until next June.