Napeague’s Dolphin Drive Signs Questioned

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Some residents on the beachfront Dolphin Drive in Napeague are upset that “no parking” signs in front of their homes were changed late last month to allow parking with an East Hampton Town permit.

According to Mike Sterlacci, who is head of the East End Dunes Resident Association, which represents 160 homeowners, for as long as he’s lived there—about 40 years—there have been signs on Dolphin Drive to ban parking. It made sense, he said, because the street is narrow, and families and beachgoers walk and ride bikes down the street, outnumbering motorized vehicles.

Residents of Dolphin Drive were shocked on August 22 to find that new signs replaced the old, allowing parking with an East Hampton Town permit. They say there was no notice given that the signs would be changed.

In 1974, a law was enacted to disallow parking on the street, but the law was later changed, at some point, to allow parking for town residents only.

“Obviously, a lot of people are agitated about the situation,” Mr. Serlacci said on Tuesday. “We have no problems with access to the beach. Pedestrians walk up and down the block, there are bikers, strollers with babies, people walking with beach chairs.”

He said he and other residents are concerned about the safety of parking on the street and would like to have been given notice of the change.

“Having parking on both sides is out of the question, a ridiculous situation,” he said. “We’re trying to be reasonable, and we’re willing to let the process take its natural course.”

At its September 2 work session, the East Hampton Town Board discussed a strategy to deal with the situation, while Town Clerk Carole Brennan said she would look into when the law was changed to allow parking with a permit.

Nature Preserve Committee Chairman Zachary Cohen, who, along with his committee, recommended that the town preserve 37 acres of dunes at the site, said it would be best to hold a public hearing regarding what would work there, especially if the town decides to make the acreage there a nature preserve.

“It looks like there is plenty of possibility for parking on the preserve side, without the need for it on the resident side,” he said. “There are so many different opinions and so much question about the historical facts that we need to examine what it should be.”

Mr. Sterlacci said residents want a preserve on the site, and that safety is an issue, not only for pedestrians but for those at the beach who might need emergency help.

He said the association will have a special meeting on Sunday at 11 a.m. to discuss possible options.

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