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Parking Lot Changes Afoot in Amagansett

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 13:40

The town-owned parking lot behind Amagansett Main Street will see some big changes in the near future, if the East Hampton Town Board accepts new recommendations from the hamlet’s citizens advisory committee. The lot was the center of attention Monday night at a well-attended meeting of the committee.

Following a PowerPoint discussion of noise complaints, share houses, and other quality-of-life issues by Donald Kauth, head of the town’s Code Enforcement Department, and Aldi Binozi of that department, Tina Piette of the parking lot subcommittee ran down its suggestions for the existing lot, which is being reconfigured. A forthcoming expansion behind and to the east of it will provide an additional 45 spaces, she noted, and the subcommittee proposes that those spaces be reserved for employees of Main Street businesses and tenants of buildings nearby, who would be issued placards for display.

The parking spots in the larger lot, meanwhile, would be limited to two hours, from May 15 to Sept. 15, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., which would eliminate all the current long-term spots. Councilman David Lys called it “a seasonal decision,” explaining that long-term parking would be restored after Sept. 15.

“What about the Jitney people?” asked Rona Klopman, a member of the advisory committee, meaning travelers who leave their cars in the lot for a day or two and walk to the bus stop, which is conveniently close.

Ms. Piette shrugged. “We have to give up the long-term parking if we want to keep our businesses thriving,” she said, “and, we want to block abuses — people taking up spots for a day at the beach.” The 30-minute parking spots near the Amagansett Library would stay where they are.

As for the much-discussed and widely despised notion of an “arm gate” at the entrance to the lot, the subcommittee may have shot it down for good. There was no support for it, Ms. Piette reported. “It would back traffic onto Main Street.”

Rachel Gruzen, a library board member who said she was speaking for the board, made it known that the library was “not a fan of a ticket booth” either, and asked that it be removed from the current site plan of the reconfigured lot.

Mr. Lys asked members how they felt about security cameras, saying that they would be mounted on existing poles, not new ones. There was general agreement that surveillance was a good idea, although Tom Field, who lives close to the new parking lot, had some invasion-of-privacy concerns. Mr. Lys assured him that the cameras would be directed elsewhere, “at the [existing] parking lot, and the privies, and who comes in and out.” (Light poles in the new lot, he promised, will be 15 feet high, not 22 feet as they are now.)

Discussion of the parking lot turned next to an alleyway by Indian Wells Tavern, which leads back into the lot and the bathrooms at its rear. The trees in that passage “are in bad shape,” Mr. Lys said. “If we could get them out, we could put in lighting and planters, maybe benches. Anything would make it look better than it does now.”

There were a few grumbles about cutting down trees, but Michael Cinque, a committee member who owns Amagansett Wine & Spirits in the middle of Main Street, quieted them: “We need to divert people down that alleyway to the comfort stations,” he said, sketching a verbal picture of despairing tourists seeking relief.

Councilman Lys seized the moment. “Can we roll that into the potential cost of this [parking lot] project?” he asked. “I would like to tell the [town] board that you’d like to add the alleyway into the bonding.”

There was a unanimous show of hands in favor.

In other business, Mr. Lys reminded the community that the coming weekend will be the last for ocean lifeguards. The bay beaches are no longer lifeguard-protected.