By Claire Walla
Noyac resident Dr. Stanley Shore said he’s been visiting the little patch of sand at the end of Noyac Bay Avenue in Northampton Colony for decades.
He’s lived in the area since the 1930s and has always been able to park his car on the road where it dead-ends into a strip of sand along a channel that leads around the corner to a small marina. At high tide, the beach is minimal and buttressed by the private beach club to the left and the private marina to the right.
But for Shore — who, at 87-years-old, doesn’t walk great distances anyway — it doesn’t matter.
“It’s the most beautiful place in the world,” he said.
When Shore discovered last year that “no parking” signs had gone up in 2009, he realized he could no longer access his favorite beach. And since then, he’s led an effort to get Southampton Town to overturn its decision to post the seasonal “no parking” signs. The next town hearing on the matter is this Tuesday, June 28.
“What they’re slowly doing is they’re making this a gated, private community,” he said.
Shore said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilman Jim Malone were previously poised to compromise on the parking issue by implementing permit-only restrictions with a limited number of spots for residents of Southampton Town. But, he said even this proposal has been met with resistance from homeowners.
“We feel betrayed by the board,” Shore said. “There’s no reason for them to be giving in.”
The parking issue was prompted by what those in Northampton Colony attribute to thefts in the area in 2008. According to a letter written to Southampton Town Council by Northampton Colony Yacht Club Commodore Laurence Tullio, five boat-owners in the marina were subject to theft and vandalism of fishing accessories, including the theft of a fishing net, casting rods and reels, and damage to a boat’s cup holders.
After putting in a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request with Southampton Town Police for all thefts reported to the town from 2008 to the present, Dr. Shore discovered only one reported incident of theft in the area, which occurred in 2008.
But, according to one Northampton Colony resident (who supports the parking ban), these incidents were not reported to Southampton Town Police because police informed community members there was little hope town detectives would actually recover the missing items.
The resident continued to explain that homeowners were worried that people with intent to steal could park their cars at the end of Noyac Bay Avenue — a strip of concrete south of the neighborhood’s clubhouse and north of the marina — where they would be able to observe activity in the marina and hone in on where personal items were being stored on each boat.
“That’s ludicrous,” said a Northampton Colony resident who wished to remain anonymous in order to avoid getting involved with neighborhood politics. If the community used that logic, he continued, “then you have to apply that to every marina on the island,”
He added, “If [thievery] is an issue, then parking should be by permit only.”
This is what Noyac resident Dr. Stanley Shore would settle for, although he added that the present compromise has decreased from permit-only parking along both sides of Noyac Bay Road, to just four spaces on the south side of the street.
“There are over 100 streets [in the Town of Southampton] that end at the water, at public beaches,” said Noyac resident Jayne Young. The residents of Northampton Colony, she added, “are simply asking for special treatment.”
She, Shore and fellow Noyaker Lisina Ceresa, feel the bigger issue at hand is that if the board continues to enforce “no parking” restrictions at the end of Noyac Bay Road, it could instigate “a domino effect” across the East End, prompting other communities in Southampton and East Hampton to appeal to their town boards for restricted access.
“I’m generally supportive of maintaining beach access, but from time to time there’s a need to constrain [it.],” said Southampton Councilman Chris Nuzzi who has been in favor of maintaining “no parking” signs on Noyac Bay Avenue.
When asked whether or not he felt restricted parking would effectively make the beach private, he added “that obviously would concern me. I certainly am not looking to close off beach access to residents. Again, it doesn’t stop people from utilizing the beach — that I would not support. The only thing it does restrict is parking.”
He continued to explain that the biggest concern for area residents is the number of thefts they’ve reportedly had in the area.
“The reality is, the more people that can park there, the more welcoming it is,” he said.
For Northampton Colony, the issue is more personal than philosophical.
“The fact that the Town of Southampton is considering changing the current seasonal ‘no parking’ restrictions after a major increase in our taxes has raised immediate concerns in our neighborhood,” said a letter written to Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst by Commodore Tullio earlier this month.
The letter added that in 2009 Northampton Colony paid $3,080 in taxes for the clubhouse, but in 2010, these taxes rose to $3,230 and this year that number hit $15,000. “Raising Northampton Colony’s taxes five fold and now considering changing the seasonal no-parking restriction is totally unacceptable.”
Tullio points to five other waterfront areas in Southampton Town — parts of Sagg Main Road, Townline Road, Daniels Lane, Gibson Road and Ocean Road — that currently hold seasonal “no parking” signs.
In fact, his view is the exact opposite of Young’s.
“If you change the parking restrictions on Noyac Bay Avenue [to allow permit-only parking],” he charged, “will you make the same changes on the above named streets?”
The neighborhood has collectively requested the town hold off on making any decisions regarding any change to the parking restriction until the community receives information on the exact boundary lines indicating which sections of beach are under the jurisdiction of the town trustees, and what is legally owned by the residents of Northampton Colony.