This Town Board Says Residents Come First

A welcome change

East Hampton Town’s effort to rein in some of the excesses of the summer bar and party scene is beginning to show results. This is a welcome change, as it is safe to assume that the preponderance of residents and season-long renters do not choose to live or summer here to carouse; the area’s natural and cultural attractions are the draw. 

By the numbers, there are already, at peak, too many of us stuffed onto the 42 square miles of habitable area in town. Pile the highly mobile weekend party crowd on top of an estimated almost 100,000 people who put their heads down on pillows in summer, and you have the making of a nightmare. Credit is due the East Hampton Town Board and town staff for trying to gain the upper hand.

That an East Hampton Town Justice Court trial finally forced the eponymous owner of Cyril’s Fish House on Napeague to shut down for good is but one example. For years, officials looked the other way as the restaurant and bar was illegally expanded, with patrons spilling out onto a state highway right of way and traffic tie-ups extending for up to a mile in each direction some afternoons. And to what benefit? The jobs Cyril’s created were not year round, and the money in salaries and supplies flowed out of town as quickly as it poured over the bar. Unfortunately, this has been typical of many of the summer hot stops. For all the trouble they cause in terms of noise, litter, neighborhood annoyances, and police time, they give very little back. 

Separately, the town has begun looking at bar and restaurant liquor permits and whether some might not be in compliance with town regulations on live music. While we are sympathetic with local performers who might see lucrative summer gigs dry up, a quieter, less hectic town is in the greater interest. 

Some might characterize the town’s actions as a war on fun; we see it as demonstrating respect for others while some bar owners and too many of their patrons clearly do not.

The key question for elected officials is in whose interest they should act. For too many years, it seemed the voices of those who stood to gain monetarily at everyone else’s expense took precedence. As it has done concerning helicopter curfews at the airport, this town board seems willing to put residents first.