Truck Beach Access and More

East Hampton Town officials and beach-driving enthusiasts celebrated this week as news spread of a court victory in a lawsuit brought by a number of Amagansett property owners seeking to end most four-wheel-drive use on two portions of Napeague oceanfront. However, the win does not mean that the fight is over. The residents who brought suit will probably appeal, and new conflicts are sure to arise.

State Supreme Court Justice Ralph Gazzillo’s Nov. 4 ruling came down strongly in the town’s favor, rejecting the property owners’ claims of beach ownership and ruling against their argument that summer activity on what has come to be known as Truck Beach was a nuisance and public health hazard.

What Justice Gazzillo did not do was give the town or trustees guidance about how to control beach use in the future — something they have so far refused to do and that will prove more necessary as time goes by. 

This year, those on Truck Beach appeared a little bit more spread out than in previous summers, although regulars continued their efforts to keep litter to a minimum and police the beach for drunks or people driving too fast. That cannot entirely be said for the free-for-alls seen elsewhere. Already there are valid complaints about vehicles in other places, such as Little Albert’s Landing in Amagansett, Navy Beach in Montauk, and on an inner sand spit at Maidstone Park on Three Mile Harbor.

Town officials must know that new conflicts about how the beaches are used are bound to arise and that they will increase as the population grows. Tougher policies governing what happens on the sand will be needed.