In East Hampton, Getting The Beaches In Gear For Another Season In The Sun


It’s not like the beaches get themselves set for the season. Ed McDonald, who oversees the sandy shores of East Hampton Village, was at Two Mile Hollow spiffing up the restrooms and storage shed last Thursday, applying Rustoleum to the center doors.

“Right now we’re just getting our hands dirty,” Mr. McDonald said. “We’ve got everybody working to try to pull it all together.”

There was major erosion at Georgica Beach for the second year in a row, damage to the Main Beach pavilion and lifeguards’ shed, thanks to Sandy and subsequent storms. “Three weeks ago I was like, losing sleep: There’s no way we’re going to get this all together,” said Mr. McDonald, who was beginning to feel sanguine about the bathing seasoning opening this Saturday.

Less so John Rooney, the superintendent of recreation in East Hampton Town. The town beach at west Ditch Plain in Montauk will not open for swimming over Memorial Day weekend, when lifeguards would normally get back to the stands on Saturday.

“It’s all rock right now,” Mr. Rooney said. “Nature has not returned the beach to what it used to be.” The superintendent, who’s been on the job since 2007, said he doesn’t remember when he’s seen such a severely eroded town beach. He added, too, that west Ditch is “one of the most popular” among town beaches

Another popular surf spot, Georgica Beach in East Hampton Village, was in a similar pickle last summer thanks to Irene and her successors. There was so little beach left for the lifeguards to work from that they were moved to Wiborg’s Beach instead, then moved back to Georgica by the Fourth of July after sand came back and the beach could be reopened for swimming.

While it’s true that the village had to rebuild the road end at Georgica for the second year in a row, thanks to another winter of storm damage and erosion, Georgica is good to go for this weekend.

“It looks good,” said Village Administrator Larry Cantwell. “Georgica’s in much better shape this year than last year at this time.”

Back in Montauk, East Hampton Town will take a “wait and see” approach with Ditch, according to Mr. Rooney. To compensate, this Saturday the town will open Kirk Park Beach in Montauk, which under normal circumstances would not have reopened until mid-June.

“No-swimming” signs will be posted at western Ditch, and they’ll stay in place at South Lake in Montauk as well. South Lake is shallow, normally calm and not protected by lifeguards, but the quality of its water has been called into question by the Suffolk County Health Department. At the department’s recommendation, the town’s eight-week sailing program, for boaters 12 and up, will move this year to Fresh Pond Beach in Amagansett, where it is normally held for four weeks only.

Thanks to the increasing popularity of Indian Wells in Amagansett, another town beach on the ocean, access for vehicles like oversized taxis, buses and vans could well be restricted during peak beachgoing hours this summer. New regulations wouldn’t go into effect until after a June 6 public hearing, but the idea is to ease congestion to protect pedestrians and improve traffic flow.

“The main emphasis is really on trying to limit the oversized vehicles that carry more than eight passengers or are more 30 feet long, more than four tons,” explained East Hampton Town Police Captain Michael Sarlo, who gave a presentation about the proposed change at a meeting of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee last month. While a vehicle the size of a Chevy Suburban would be “not even close” to the limit, commercial vehicles like dump trucks and trucks with trailers would be.

“Really oversized vehicles block a lot of view,” Captain Sarlo said. “With vendors, people walking to the bathrooms, [they] make it very difficult.” Workers who stop at the beach for lunch in such vehicles on weekdays would not be affected, as the rules would not be in force at that time.

At Beach Hampton in Amagansett, the Ocean Rescue Squad will have a demonstration and drill at 11 a.m. this Sunday at Napeague Lane—and speaking of rescues, Amagansett’s Atlantic Beach will have a new ATV to use to help lifeguards this summer, thanks to the Amagansett Beach Safety Advisory Committee, which raised money to pay for the vehicle. Ed Michels of the East Hampton Town Marine Patrol trained lifeguards to use ATVs, according to the committee, which also notes that the town has installed emergency lane vehicle markers, allowing responders to get to emergencies faster, between Edison and Kirk Park Beach in Montauk.

The markers have assigned numbers, as do ones at 150 town and privately owned beach accesses, so that people who call 911 can describe exactly where help is needed even if they are from out of town. East Hampton Town Lifeguard Captain Ed Reid said markers went up in Amagansett by the summer of 2011 after a drowning at an unprotected beach about a mile east of Atlantic Avenue.

On Friday, the Recreation Department put markers in at town-owned beach accesses between South Eton Street and Oceanview Terrace in Montauk, according to Vicki Littman, who chairs the safety advisory committee. Mr. Reid said town accesses on Napeague should be completely marked by the middle of June. “It will eliminate a lot of confusion,” he said.

With Reporting by Rohma Abbas

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