Committee Floats Ideas On How To Improve Indian Wells Beach

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Indian Wells Beach, Amagansett’s most crowded summer spot, could see a few changes in response to its growing popularity.

According to East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, more parking spaces and a sidewalk may be added, and the new parking attendant booth may be moved closer to Bluff Road as to make the turnaround for nonresident beachgoers easier.

Indian Wells, where parking is for residents only, had been known as a family-oriented beach until recently in 2012, when vacationing young adults discovered the spot through Guest of a Guest, a website that spotlights events and places in the Hamptons and other locations. Since the website highlighted the beach as “a little secret hidden in Amagansett,” scores of bikini-clad, football-throwing young adults have turned the beach into something like an outdoor bar.

That year, the crowds, numbering from 300 to 400 people a day, and largely from out of town, agitated residents and town officials because of widespread drunkenness, public urination in the dunes, illegal parking and loud music. The crowds continued to show up en mass last summer, too.

In an attempt to deflate the beach’s popularity, the Town Board in 2013 adopted parking restrictions, banning commercial vehicles weighing more than 4 tons, longer than 30 feet or carrying more than eight passengers from parking on Indian Wells Highway, 175 feet south of Bluff Road to the beach. Parking is also prohibited on both sides of Southview and Further Court, two roads near Indian Wells Highway, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The new restrictions take effect from May 15 to October 1 on prime days—weekends, holidays and other days as determined by the East Hampton Town Police Department.

“Those changes were helpful but they didn’t cure the problem,” Ms. Overby said this week. “Maybe nothing will cure the problem, but at least we can make it much more pleasant for the majority of people.”

She said that a committee, which formed to come up with new strategies to deal with the influx of visitors, is proposing to add 22 more parking spaces by re-striping the parking lot and adding parallel parking on the western side of Indian Wells Road.

To make turning around easier for those who do not have resident beach parking stickers, the group suggests moving the parking attendant’s booth closer to Bluff Road. Doing so would make sure that less traffic infiltrates the actual parking lot, Ms. Overby said.

The committee is also working with Consulting Engineer Drew Bennett to come up with plans to refurbish the bathrooms by adding another toilet and urinal, as well as outdoor showers.

To improve the beach’s appearance, Ms. Overby said new trash cans could be added and signs at the beach could be consolidated.

“These changes have been because the public has been calling and asking for it,” she said. “The big gorilla in the room—whether or not to ban alcohol at lifeguarded beaches—we haven’t discussed anything other than banning alcohol during a very specific time period.”

She said the group is considering pushing for banning alcohol during lifeguard hours.

“We know people want to come to the beach and have a glass of wine, but if we ban it during these hours, it would bring it back to a family beach,” she said.

A presentation of the group’s ideas may be shown to the Town Board in March, Ms. Overby said.

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