The East Hampton Town Nature Preserve Committee is pitching a plan to create more town ocean beaches and nature preserves on Napeague.
Zachary Cohen, chairman of the group, spoke about the committee’s proposal to the Town Board at a recent work session.
The group studied three large areas along the Napeague stretch that comprise a total of eight parcels: South Flora, the former Church of God property and the Beach Plum Park parcels, according to a report by the group. The report includes recommendations for parking and restroom facilities, as well as historical data and details about the lands.
The committee recommends that the South Flora land, a 37-acre parcel with 1,700 feet of shoreline along Napeague, be designated a nature preserve, and studied by the town’s Planning Department to determine if it could be a bathing beach with lifeguards and a bathroom. It suggests that the former Church of God land, a 6.7-acre parcel bought in 1980 is potentially the best of eight properties the committee looked at for a bathing beach with bathrooms. The Beach Plum parcels, the main one being a 14.6-acre property, should remain designated as nature preserves, according to the report.
While board members seemed receptive to the idea, the town would have to overcome the hurdle of Town Trustee ownership. The Town Trustees are not willing to consider changing existing beach regulations until ongoing lawsuits with town residents challenging the public ownership of Trustee beaches are resolved.
“It seems exciting that the townspeople may have an opportunity for additional access to the beach in the future,” Diane McNally, the Clerk of the Town Trustees, said in an April memo. “As I’m sure you know, the Board of Trustees supports and defends access to the public resources we manage on behalf of the public. However please be advised the Board of Trustees will not consider altering or amending the existing regulations for beaches until the lawsuit challenging Trustee ownership has been settled.”
Creating more beaches in East Hampton Town is an issue of particular importance lately, as the Town Board has been grappling with an out-of-control growth in popularity of Indian Wells in Amagansett.
“What we have to have is an advanced plan for access to our ocean beaches that takes into consideration the seasonal volumes,” said Mr. Stanzione. “And we don’t have that right now. What we have is a parking plan that does not address those needs.”
The Planning Department will do a feasibility study that will weigh the pros and cons for both the South Flora and former Church of God properties, and Mr. Cohen will report its findings.