Tag Archive | "east hampton town board"

CfAR Cheers Beach Access Ruling; But Suit Still Alive

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By Mara Certic

After almost five years in court, a decision has been made on two lawsuits filed against the East Hampton Town Trustees and the Town Board, determining that beachfront homeowners on Napeague do not own the stretches of beach in front of their houses.

In September 2009, home- and business-owners along the southern side of Napeague filed two separate suits against the town, claiming to own the ocean beach in an effort to prohibit vehicles from driving on it.

The first of the suits, named the “Seaview” case was filed by several Napeague homeowners associations claimed owners of oceanfront property owned a 4,000-foot stretch of beach along the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Trustees, who have jurisdiction over most town beaches. In a decision dated September 3, 2014, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo found that the homeowners do not have jurisdiction over the area between the beach grass and the high-water marks.

Affectionately and quite appropriately known as “truck beach,” the area has for years been popular with local families who access it in four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Soon after the lawsuit was filed, a grassroots, not-for-profit organization called Citizens for Access Rights (CfAR) was formed in order to oppose the privatization of East End beaches. CfAR, which is not affiliated with any political parties, raised thousands of dollars over the years in order to support the Trustees in the lawsuit.

White Sands Motel Holding Corporation filed another suit with the same claim over a smaller stretch of beach in front of the motel, further east than the “Seaview” property.

“There’s some pluses and minuses for both sides,” Tim Taylor, the president of CfAR, said of the recent decisions on Wednesday. “There are two separate cases so there are two separate rulings.”

The judge handled the two cases at the same time, he said, because “the plaintiffs in those cases are looking for the same results.”

“They found in the Seaview case that the homeowners of the subdivisions do not own between the edge of the beach grass and the mean high water. They did not find on the White Sands case, that the town owns that beach, but they did find that the homeowners don’t own it in the Seaview case,” he said.

The White Sands decision rejected the town’s effort to have the suit dismissed by a summary judgment, which basically determines the suit to be without merit.

The court did not rule that the White Sands beach property was owned by either the Trustees or the motel, but merely determined that the ownership was unclear, Mr. Taylor said.

“Either way we do expect an appeal process on both sides and we would just really hope the town Trustees and the town board continue their fight of this case and we don’t lose sight of what’s at stake here. It’s not really an all-out win for either side,” Mr. Taylor explained.

Assistant East Hampton Town Attorney John Jilnicki said Monday that the town was in the process of reviewing the decision in order to figure out how to proceed. “We could appeal it and not let it proceed to trial, but I don’t think the decision’s been made yet,” he said. He added the town hopes to have made a determination within the next week or so.

The East Hampton Town Trustees did not return phone calls by the time of this paper’s publication. Their attorney, Anthony Tohill, said he was not prepared to comment on the decision on Tuesday.

David Lys, founder of CfAR, was asked in a 2011 interview with The Sag Harbor Express if he thought property owners would ever stop seeking to privatize beaches on the East End. “Will it ever end?” he was asked.

“Unfortunately, I don’t believe it will,” he said. “With the turnover rate in housing out here, and the monetary wealth combined with the fact we live in a litigious society, people will throw their money around and sue over something like this because it is the easiest course of action they can take.”

Just last week those proposing a members-only club at East Deck in Montauk called for an adjournment on the decision after outcry from the public. Over 5,000 people signed a petition calling for the East Hampton Town Planning Board to deny the application or require an environmental impact study. The Ditch Plains Association held a memorial paddle-out where hundreds of surfers mourned the potential loss of the family friendly beach.

ED40 LLC., owner of the motel, issued a statement saying a significant number of public comments had led them to offer the land to the board for public acquisition. Mr. Taylor had no comment on the potential purchase of the land but said, “We hope that no matter what happens there, the public has access to that beach. Whether it is purchased by the town or whether some sort of development does go through there, we would just like to see that the public is able to use and access this beach.”

North Haven Hunting Injunction Lifted

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By Mara Certic

A temporary restraining order to prevent the issuance of new deer nuisance permits in North Haven has been lifted by Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge W. Gerard Asher in a ruling on Friday, September 12.

The Wildlife Preservation Coalition of Eastern Long Island (WPCELI) filed suit against the Village of North Haven last spring for a preliminary injunction to prevent  the DEC from issuing nuisance permits on the East End, after hearing word of a proposed mass deer cull.

In March 2014, the Supreme Court issued a six-month temporary restraining order that prevented new permits from being issued. According to a press release issued by Wendy Chamberlin, president of WPCELI, the temporary restraining order “effectively, halted the Long Island Farm Bureau and United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services’ planned 2013-2014 cull of, potentially, thousands of deer, which concluded this past spring.”

The WPCELI argued the planned 2013-2014 cull of 3,000 to 5,000 deer “was a substantial increase from previous years and that a cull of this size has not been properly evaluated or studied by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation,” according the release.

According to court records, the wildlife coalition asserted “the DEC’s recent issuance of DDPs involves significant departures from their established and accepted practices of doing so and asserts that a new evaluation of the need and scale of any deer cull program must be done.” They also said, according to the records, “the DEC does not follow its own guidelines.” The DEC countered that it does indeed follow its own guidelines and that there was not a significant departure from past years, noting there are only 12 applications currently pending before the DEC, and that those are for mostly farmland.

“WPCELI is confident that the court will find that DEC has not justified this unprecedented cull and will direct DEC to comply with the law before issuing more permits for the LIFB program,” Ms. Chamberlin said in the release.

According to North Haven Village Mayor Jeff Sander, the lifting of the temporary restraining order will not have much of an immediate impact on North Haven.

“It won’t affect the state-wide hunting season that starts on October 1,” Mr. Sander said on Wednesday morning. “The normal hunting season starts October 1 and goes through the end of the year. The nuisance deer hunting starts on January 1, so it will allow us to continue as we have for many years.”

The North Haven Village Board presented an update of its deer management plan at its regular meeting earlier this month. It discussed the possibility of adding a deer sterilization program as well as plans to plans to deploy in the spring 10 four-poster feeding systems, which apply insecticide to a feeding deer’s neck and shoulders.

The board also discussed a proposed law that would require all hunters in North Haven to apply for special hunting permits from the village, as well as a permit from the DEC. “We just want to be able to control what hunters are in North Haven, what areas they’re hunting in. And they’ll need that permit whether they’re hunting in the normal season starting next month or during January to March for the nuisance deer hunting,” Mr. Sander said.

Mr. Sander said during the village board meeting the primary focus is to reduce the herd. North Haven, however, has no plans to bring in professional firm White Buffalo for a deer cull this year, he added.

East Hampton Management Plan

Andrew Gaites of the Deer Management Committee gave a report at the East Hampton Town Board’s Tuesday morning work session this week and offered options and recommendations to the board.

According to Mr. Gaites, changes in bow-hunting setback laws created an additional 300 acres of town land that can be opened for bow-hunting this year. The law, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo earlier this year, reduced mandatory setbacks from residences from 500 feet to 150 feet. There is also an additional 174 acres of town land now available for gun hunting as well, he said.

Mr. Gaites said he believes the New York State Parks Department is working to open up more land in Napeague and Montauk for hunting.

The committee did not recommend planning for a professional deer cull this winter, “mostly due to a lawsuit against the DEC and the USDA,” Mr. Gaites said. The committee did suggest the town consider allowing local hunters onto private land during certain hours, “possibly at other times of year using nuisance permits,” as well as the regular hunting season, Mr. Gaites said.

He also suggested the possibility of opening up two landfill sites to hunting on Wednesdays, when they are closed. Mr. Gaites said if this was possible, the properties would only be open on a limited basis and only to a select number of lottery winners. It was also recommended that deer accidents be better documented and that the board consider extending the gun season to include weekends.

East Hampton Will Let Citizens Weigh In

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East Hampton Town announced this week that it would hold a series of informational hearings on hot topics in the coming weeks.

Two public meetings have been scheduled to discuss the town’s comprehensive wastewater management plan. The first will be on Tuesday, September 23, at 10 a.m. in the Emergency Services Building in East Hampton Village. A second will take place during a regularly scheduled town board work session on Tuesday, October 14, at 10 a.m. at the Montauk Firehouse. Each meeting will include an overview of the plan, as well as a detailed discussion of specifics as they relate to the hamlet in which the meeting is held.

The Montauk Beach Stabilization Plan will be the topic of a special meeting at noon on Thursday, September 25, at the Montauk Firehouse. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will present the final details of their downtown Montauk beach stabilization project. Representatives from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Suffolk County Department of Public Works, as well as East Hampton Town, will also attend.

The town’s proposed rental registry law will be the topic at two town board work session, the first on Tuesday, October 21, at 10 a.m. at Town Hall, and the second on Wednesday, November 12, at 10 a.m. at the Montauk Firehouse.

Formula Business Law on Hold

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A vote on proposed law to require formula or chain businesses to acquire special permits has been put off again in East Hampton Town.

The legislation, which aims to maintain the rural character of the town by requiring chain stores to apply for special permits, was on the agenda for the last Town Board meeting of the busy summer season on Thursday, August 21.

The town board decided to hold off on the vote after Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez and Councilman Fred Overton both said they would have difficulty supporting the legislation as written during an August work session.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, who sponsored the legislation, added, “There were a few things the attorneys wanted to look at.” She said she hopes it will be back on the agenda later this month.

East Hampton Town Names Next Airport Manager

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The East Hampton Town Board announced on Tuesday that they intend to appoint Jemille Charlton as airport manager following new of Jim Brundige’s resignation.

Mr. Charlton has held the position of airport attendant since May 2013. The 33-year-old attended New York Military Academy, Community College of the Air Force and, according to a press release issued by Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez’s office, will graduate from Dowling College School of Aviation with a degree in Airport Management in May 2015.

“I believe we can take our airport into the future while maintaining our unique East End quality of life. Being a third-generation resident and now raising the fourth here, I understand what it means to be fully invested in this community, and will strive to maintain its ideals and values. As a community, we must think rationally and responsibly to ensure the stability of our East End for generations to come,” he said in the release.

“Jemille is a young man with a solid background in aviation, impeccable credentials and deep roots in our community. As a 15-year member of the Air National Guard, we are proud of his service to our country and I look forward to partnering with him as we develop a plan that addresses the Airport’s finances, infrastructure, capital and noise issues,” Ms. Burke-Gonzalez said.

The resolution to appoint Mr. Charlton is scheduled for the town board’s regular meeting on Thursday, September 4 at 6:30 p.m. If passed, Mr. Charlton’s position will take effect immediately. According to the release, Mr. Brundige will stay at the airport to help with the transition until October 17.

 

Wainscott Parcel Targeted for Affordable Housing

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By Stephen J. Kotz

A plan to build as many as 48 affordable rental apartments on a 31-acre site owned by East Hampton Town in Wainscott was proposed to the Town Board on July 15.

Michael DeSario, the chairman of the Windmill Village Housing Development Fund Corporation, which has been involved with other subsidized housing projects in the town, made his pitch at the board’s weekly work session and stressed that any project is far from a done deal, saying that even if everything went without a hitch, he was looking at a timeframe of up to four to six years before they would be completed.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell agreed with Mr. DeSario’s assessment that the project would take some years to bring to fruition.

“There’s a lot of lead time on a project like this,” said Supervisor Larry Cantwell on Wednesday, “but you never get anything done if you don’t get started on something.”

The first hurdle, the supervisor said, would be making sure the project is workable with the tiny Wainscott School District, whose residents enjoy the lowest school tax rate in town.

“We know there is a demand for affordable housing. Young, working familes have few places to live,” Mr. Cantwell said. “Want to consider locations and proposals and get community input.”

“Several months ago, the town asked Windmill to look around and work with the Planning Department to see if there are any sites available for affordable housing,” Mr. DeSario said on Tuesday. “We came up with a couple and this was at the top of the list.”

The targeted site consists of several parcels off Stephen Hands Path, behind the town-owned soccer fields and the Child Development Center of the Hamptons school.

Mr. DeSario said he envisioned a development that would consist of eight buildngs with six apartment units in each one. Twenty would be one-bedroom apartments of about 600 squae feet, 20 would be two-bedroom units of about 800 square feet, and another eight would be three-bedroom units with about 1,200 square feet of living space.

The project would also have a community room and a superintendent’s apartment and could be served by standard individual wastewater systems or a small-scale onsite waste treatment plant.

A wastewater treatment plant could upward of $1 million to build and another $50,000 a year to run, “so we wanted to make sure it could be done either way,” he said.

Mr. DeSario estimated that the complex would cost up to $15 million and would be funded through federal grants and tax credits.

The units would be rented to “low and very-low income people,” Mr. DeSario said, adding that they would provide tenants “with clean, healthy housing that would be guaranteed. They wouldn’t have to wory about being evicted or someone selling and having their rent tripled.”

Although Mr. DeSario said that care had been taken to see that the complex was not populated with too many children—he estimated there would be 30 to 40 children living there—at last week’s board meeting, David Eagan, an attorney and president of the Wainscott School Board, told the board he was worried about the impact the development could have on the district.

Mr. Cantwell said he was aware of the district’s concerns and said the board would wait until Wainscott received a study assessing the impact the project would have on the district before taking the next step.

On Wednesday, Mr. Eagan said the district had hired the SES Study Team, an educaitonal consulting firm, to assess the impact such a housing complex would have on Wainscott.

“The impact is going to be dramatic,” he said. “We know it is going to be profound.”

Besides doubling the number of students in the district, it could “compromise our longheld mission of individualized programs for our students,” he said. “We’re concerned about the need for new facilities, the need for new staff and the impact on the bottom line.”

Supervisor Cantwell said the board was also cognizant of the recent announcement by the Sag Harbor Community Housing Trust that it will buy the Cottages, a group of eight affordable housing units on Route 114, which are also in the Wainscott School District. Although those units are currently used for affordable housing, Mr. Cantwell said it is expected they will be expanded and could have an additional impact on the school district.

Indian Wells Beach Goes Dry

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After months of discussion and disagreement, East Hampton Town has adopted a law that will restrict alcohol at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett.

The East Hampton Town Board and Trustees had been negotiating provisions of the beach alcohol ban since complaints started flooding in recent years about inappropriate behavior and huge parties organized on social media at Indian Wells beach.

The law, which will go into effect in August, will prohibit drinking within 1,000 feet on either side of the entrance to the beach, during lifeguarding hours on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays until the law sunsets on September 30, 2014.

Amagansett resident Stuart Vorpahl spoke out to say that a law could have been in place throughout the summer had only the board “recognized the sovereign authority of the Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonalty of the Town of East Hampton.”

“Instead,” he continued,  “you folks grabbed on to illegal New York State Legislature,” he said of municipal Laws, which allowed the town board to adopt this law without the Trustees’ input.

Brian Byrnes, an East Hampton Town Trustee, thanked the board for working with the Trustees on the issue.

“I’m very thankful we have the board that we have today and not the board of the past. I don’t think we would have gotten nearly as far,” he said.

“I don’t necessarily think everybody’s happy, but I think this is something we can live with,” Mr. Byrnes said. “And I’ve been down at the beach on a number of occasions and it’s good to see a police presence there.”

“I have a good feeling,” he said. “I think we worked well together.”

Aircraft Noise Still Tormenting East Hampton Residents

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By Mara Certic

Airport noise continues to disrupt residents of the East End, causing concern at the East Hampton Town Board as the busy summer season officially kicked off this Independence Day weekend.

“The horizon is littered with airplanes,” Sag Harbor resident Patricia Currie told the board on Thursday, July 3. “No peace can be found; not for man, woman or critter of any kind.”

Ms. Currie said that it was virtually impossible to enjoy peaceful recreational activities in the area anymore, adding that although helicopters are the main problem “large jets run a close second. They have been permitted at any hour.”

Ms. Currie implored the board to set in place restrictions on the types of aircraft that can use the airport and impose strict curfews. “You have the power to end the insanity,” she said. “I beg you, do not wait one day longer.”

Real Estate Agent Tom MacNiven started by complimenting the board for its work on the airport thus far. “You’re really demystifying the airport,” he said “You’re doing what the two previous administrations had ignored.”

He then, however, went on to discuss the adverse economic effects that the airport has been having in the area. Entire parts of town, he explained, have been stigmatized right now due to the incessant aircraft noise overhead. He believes this to be the reason why such a large number of available houses went unrented this summer. “What is the effect of this on my real estate?”

He said that 20 years ago the busiest day at the airport was the airport open house.

Wainscott resident Barry Raebeck also looked to the past when he addressed the board on Thursday.

Some 20 years ago, he said, the FAA qualified the East Hampton Airport as a municipal airport. Now it is a regional airport. “It has before our very eyes morphed into a monstrosity,” he said. “Will it next be a metropolitan airport?”

Helicopters fly over his Wainscott house every “three to five minutes for hours,” he said. “That’s not what we signed up for.”

He asked the board to revert the airport to what it started out as, a “local, recreational non-commercial facility,” or he said, “Close it.” Barry Raebeck is the father of Sag Harbor Express reporter Tessa Raebeck.

Tom Ogden seconded his sentiments: “The airport was a part of the fabric of the environment, but it’s become a severe problem,” he said. “Bring it back to what it was, an airport that was part of everything we love.”

Kathy Cunningham of the Quiet Skies Coalition used the date of the meeting to her advantage and, after expressing preemptive apologies to Thomas Jefferson, read the Quiet Sky Coalition’s “Declaration of Independence from the Torment of Unlimited Aircraft Noise.”

Her letter began as one might expect: “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with some unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Which can only be achieved,” it continued, “by substantial relief of the scourge that is aircraft noise.”

“In every stage of these oppressions we, the noise-affected, have petitioned for address in most humble terms. Even now while proper address is being sought by this town board, we continue to suffer the burdens of unlimited aircraft noise.”

The “declaration” went on to appeal to the board to remedy their suffering and restore the peace.  “These are our skies, this is our town, this is our airport.”

Most of the residents who spoke thanked the board for its efforts. One woman who lives in the Village of East Hampton even went as far to say that she was “encouraged that maybe something could be done.” She did, however, go on to say that one helicopter was flying so low overhead the previous Friday that she “could almost say hello to the pilot.”

Ms. Currie thanked the board for “restoring dignity and respect to the podium.”

“Thank you for choosing to buy more land for preservation,” she said. The Community Preservation Fund Financial report was presented in a work session meeting on Tuesday, July 1. CPF revenues, the report stated, were on the upswing and the fund is predicted to have approximately $40 million by the end of 2014.

No fewer than four CPF acquisitions were subject to public hearing in Thursday’s meeting alone, including an 18-acre area in the Northwest Woods owned by the heirs of Mary Whelan.

 

Fuel Fee Hiked

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After presentations, public hearings and pleas, the East Hampton Town Board voted on Thursday, June 19, to double the fuel fee at the East Hampton Airport, effective July 1.

The fee has was at 15 cents per gallon in 1992 and has not been changed since. Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, who sponsored the resolution, has said that research has shown that upping the fee to 30 cents is not unreasonable, and that many comparable airports have similar such fees.

Cindy Herbst of Sound Aircraft Services asked the board to reconsider. “If you pass the resolution put before you tonight that would impose a 100 percent increase in our fuel flow fee. Do so knowing that you are taking a giant and deliberate step toward debilitating and ultimately squeezing out a 24-year-old local business,” she said.

Ms. Herbst then proceeded to “put some faces and names to Sound Aircraft,” and introduced members of her staff to the board and the public.

“These are the people whose jobs are affected by the decision you’re making tonight,” she said.

Before seconding the resolution, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc spoke up to say  “This is really all about revenue, and trying to make the airport safe and continue the maintenance.”

Supervisor Larry Cantwell was the only “nay” vote on the board, saying that he believed that the increase to 30 cents was appropriate but, “I don’t think it should be done all at once,” he said. “I do think that’s somewhat unfair.”

Proposed Beach Alcohol Ban Has East Hampton Town Boards at Odds

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By Mara Certic

A proposed ban on alcohol at two beaches in Amagansett has the two elected branches of East Hampton Town’s government at odds.

The East Hampton Town Board has suggested a ban on drinking at Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue Beaches in Amagansett during lifeguarding hours in the summer months in an effort to curtail what many believe to be inappropriate behavior that has become more prevalent over the past few years.

One speaker at the public hearing on Thursday, Mark Schultz, referred to Indian Wells Beach as “frat beach.”

But the town board’s proposal has frustrated many of the Trustees, who obtained their power from King James II in 1686 and to this day own and manage the beaches on behalf of the commonality.

In the past few years, Indian Wells Beach has transformed. In 2012 the family-friendly beach in Amagansett began to host a different sort of beach-goer after various media began advertising the town beach as “the place to party.”

According to Police Chief Michael Sarlo, this resulted in hundreds of people showing up to the beach on weekends with coolers, kegs and loud music—and about 60 summons a year, roughly half of which were issued for open containers of alcohol in the parking lot, the rest for public urination, littering and failure to follow posted regulations or directions from the lifeguards.

The situation “became dangerous” and the “flow of traffic became burdensome,” according to Chief Sarlo. The problem, however, is difficult to enforce, as officers must physically witness violations in order to issue a summons.

Another problem, according to the police chief, is that the acts that are being committed do not actually rise to the level required by the New York State penal code, even though they “may be offensive to some, and may be morally questionable.”

For example, he explained, according to state law, the revelers cannot be cited for unlawful assembly unless their reason for congregating is to engage or prepare to engage in tumultuous or violent conduct.  “Once again,” he said. “[Unlawful assembly is] a class b misdemeanor and the courts have not found, unfortunately, that beer funnels or drinking games are tumultuous and violent conduct.”

The proposed ban would prohibit drinking alcohol from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, in an area spanning 3,000 feet—1,500 feet both east and west of the road end.

The Trustees had suggested that the ban be in effect only on weekends and only in 500 feet in each direction from the parking lot.

Trustee Deborah Klughers expressed concern that increasing the area of the alcohol ban would, in fact, worsen the current situation, because the revelers would move farther down the beach, out of lifeguarded areas and farther away from garbage cans and the restrooms. “They will be urinating in the dunes, they will be littering more,” she said. “Pushing these people away will push them even farther away, to other beaches in our community.”

Many of those who spoke on Thursday—both for and against the law—said that this was a problem unique to Indian Wells Beach, and they did not understand why the beach at Atlantic Avenue was included.

Ms. Klughers said in Thursday’s meeting that Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc had forwarded her e-mails that the town board had received from the public concerning this issue, but that they mentioned solely Indian Wells as the problem beach in the town. “They were clear in their e-mails that they were in favor of banning at Indian Wells, but not at Atlantic,” she said.

Mr. Schultz, who is in favor of the ban, spoke after Ms. Klughers and said “I agree, this is an Indian Wells problem, for now.”

In an interview on Tuesday, East Hampton Town Trustee Clerk Diane McNally said that the town board had included the beach at Atlantic Avenue into this law “just because of its close proximity” to Indian Wells.

Ms. McNally said that the Trustees “were hoping that the issues of public intoxication or disorderly conduct could be addressed in another fashion instead of a new law.” What the alternative could be, however, she was “not clear on,” she said.

“We want to just be sure that we’re not going to inadvertently cause more problems,” she said.

Diane Walker spoke out in favor of the ban on Thursday: “The East Hampton Town Trustees who are the property managers for our beaches want peace and good order,” she said.  The East Hampton Town Trustees are conditioned to be defensive about their jurisdictions. The East Hampton Town Trustees sometimes lose perspective. What must be agreed upon is a good faith experiment to restore peace and good order at Atlantic and Indian Wells Beaches.

Ms. Walker suggested a mobile court to allow arrests to be adjudicated at the scene.

The town board and the Trustees will continue their discussions over the coming weeks, according to Ms. McNally.