The Southampton Village Board on Tuesday night granted the Flying Point Surf School the exclusive right to give surfing and ocean swimming lessons on a municipal beach for the remainder of the summer.
The surf school has operated without a permit on village beaches for close to a decade, although its presence has recently angered some local residents who said it was hindering their ability to enjoy the beaches. The school will be granted a permit as soon as final paperwork is completed and a licensing fee is paid to the municipality, officials said during Tuesday’s meeting.
The surf school will also have to follow 12 conditions outlined in a resolution approved by trustees, or the permit will be revoked.
The trustees unanimously adopted a second resolution on Tuesday night to allow surfing in a designated area at the same times that the surf school operates. According to Village Attorney Richard DePetris, without the second resolution, the first permit would be invalid, because a permit cannot be issued for an illegal activity on a village beach.
The resolution comes two weeks after the village changed its code to allow for a single surf camp to operate on the beach. The change angered some residents who said commercial enterprises should not be allowed to operate on public beaches.
“[The resolution] incorporates the various limitations and conditions that we talked about during the course of the public hearing,” Mr. DePetris said during the meeting. “If there is anything we didn’t think of, or we should have thought of, or something happens that we did not anticipate, you can adopt new rules and regulations, or you can terminate the license—you are keeping control over everything.”
Under the provisions outlined by the trustees, the surf school will only be able to operate at the beach on the end of Fowler Street on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. through noon. The surf school may not have more than 20 students at any given time, and the school cannot give separate, private lessons before, during or after the allotted time.
The village has also mandated that the surf school follow Suffolk County guidelines for a day summer camp for all its activities, even though it does not qualify as a camp. According to the Suffolk County Department of Health website, all waterfront activities at camps must be supervised by an experienced certified lifeguard or water safety instructor. On site, one qualified lifeguard is required for every 25 bathers, and all aquatic staff are required to be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Parental permission is also required for any swimming location not inspected by the Health Department.
According to the camp guidelines, there must be one counselor for every eight campers over the age of 6, and one counselor for every six campers younger than 6 years old, if swimming is not taking place at a certified day camp location. Campers must also be tested to determine their swimming ability before participating in water activities, swimmers who are not proficient must be kept in less than chest-deep water, and the buddy system must be used for all swimmers. If at any point the county changes its policies regarding summer camps, the surf school is responsible for making sure it complies with the changes.
Another regulation implemented by the village is that the surf camp cannot have signs on the beach at any time advertising the business or surfing sponsors.
To protect the village, the surf school must have on file a comprehensive public liability insurance policy with at least $5 million in coverage for personal injury. The village will be named as an insured party on the policy, without contributing any money, and the village is to be protected from any claims, lawsuits, damage, loss or attorney fees that result from the camp.
Before the village will finalize the permit for the surf school, the school will have to pay a $500 licensing fee. The village has the right to change any and all conditions of the camp, and the permit will expire on September 15, unless revoked sooner by trustees.
“We can always change it,” Village Mayor Mark Epley stressed during the meeting.
Next summer, Mr. Epley said, the trustees intend to treat any surf school as it does concessions at Coopers Beach, meaning that there will be a bidding process for a surf school concession. The company that provides the most comprehensive plan with the lowest operating cost will win the bid.