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In East Hampton, a Cautious Approach to 2021 Beach Season

Thu, 05/06/2021 - 07:52
The protocols put in place last year at town beaches like Indian Wells in Amagansett, above, were seen as successful in protecting public health during the pandemic
Durell Godfrey

An East Hampton Town advisory committee convened last year to address beach matters has recommended a cautious approach to the looming summer season, the town board was told on Tuesday. 

Councilman David Lys, who serves on the committee, recommended to his colleagues the continuation of protocols established last year, affecting entrance, egress, and activity on beaches, as well as parking and comfort stations. 

The protocols put in place last year were seen as successful in protecting public health during the pandemic. 

Four public ocean beaches should be opened on May 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., only on weekends until mid-June or as otherwise directed by the town board, Mr. Lys said. They are Indian Wells and Atlantic Avenue Beaches in Amagansett, and Ditch Plain and either Kirk Park or South Edison Beach in Montauk, the latter depending on beach conditions. 

Big Albert's Landing Beach in Amagansett, Maidstone Park Beach in Springs, and, in Montauk, Gin Beach and "Motel Row," spanning Kirk Park and South Edison, should open on June 19, subject to change, Mr. Lys said.  

A complete assemblage of lifeguards should be hired immediately, he said. 

Emergency travel lanes at the back of the beach should be maintained, with no sunbathing or associated materials allowed on the sand at least 20 feet seaward from the beachgrass line. The use of drones should continue, and social distancing should be enforced on beaches. 

Parking capacity should be reduced at targeted locations, Mr. Lys said, and beach entrances and exits should be separated where possible for a safe flow of foot traffic. The town's lifeguards and recreation, parks, and building maintenance staffs will work in concert to execute the plans, he said. 

Comfort stations will again require social distancing while standing in line. Only one occupant will be allowed inside at a time, and face masks will be required. Last year's cleaning protocols and staffing levels should remain in place, Mr. Lys said. 

The town should conduct outreach to resorts and motels to convey protocols for public health as well as pertaining to beach fires. 

After Mr. Lys's presentation, Chief Michael Sarlo of the Police Department told the board that "we need to keep this committee together," given its effectiveness last year and the fluidity of conditions related to the pandemic. Guidance is likely to change between now and Memorial Day, he said, and change again by July 4, requiring "week-to-week, if not daily, contact and updates to make sure everything runs smoothly." 

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