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In Amagansett, Quality of Life Is at the Forefront

Thu, 06/17/2021 - 09:09
Signs at Indian Wells Beach
Durell Godfrey

Quality-of-life issues were the center of attention Monday night when the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee held what may have been its final Zoom session. Gas-powered leaf blowers, illegal Airbnb rentals, sign clutter at the beaches, beach fires, loud parties, and litter, litter, litter, all got a thorough airing.

The evening's theme was set at the start by the town's new head of the Code Enforcement Department, Kevin Cooper of Baiting Hollow, a retired New York Police Department officer who, after introducing himself to the committee, won their hearts with the announcement that a "master list" of leaf-blowing lawbreakers has been formed, and four landscaping companies are already on it. The town's new ban on the gas-powered machines took effect on May 20, but some companies, small ones in particular, still seem unaware of it, Mr. Cooper said. His staff gives warnings for a first offense; thereafter "we check the list" and issue summonses. One second offense last week, on Windmill Lane, also cited the landscaper for having neither a permit nor a license to work.

"If you see it, report it," he said. Better yet, "take a photo of the truck and send it to us. We will call the landscaper and warn them."

Windmill Lane also figured in a complaint about noisy parties. At the Reform Club, said Susan Bratton, who lives on that street, there were two recent events with "valets parking cars at the graveyard [Oak Grove Cemetery] and double-parking on the lane. There were tents on the highway," she added, set up on a separate piece of land owned by the hotel but not zoned for such a use, said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, the town board's liaison to the citizens committee.

"They had a wedding," he said, "and they've promised to keep events on site in future. We will be monitoring."

Vicki Littman asked Mr. Cooper what, if anything, can be done about illegal rentals. He explained that "three different renters" need to sign affidavits of under-the-counter activity before code enforcement can step in. "The problem is, owners are telling renters, 'Tell them you're our family.' " But, he said, "I am following 'chronic locations.' My guys go there every Friday and check." Rona Klopman, chairwoman of the committee, suggested that residents also go by on weekends and photograph different cars and license plates. "Good," said Mr. Cooper. "At least we can see if [the house] is on the rental registry."

Next, Jane Mehring, in what was quite possibly a first for the committee, gave an illustrated PowerPoint presentation on the entrances to the town beaches at Atlantic Avenue, Indian Wells Highway, and Napeague Lane, calling their numerous signposts and garbage cans "not particularly welcoming or aesthetically pleasing." The signs especially, she said, are "jumbled, chaotic, at random heights, not user-friendly." She suggested reducing the number of garbage cans — eight at Atlantic Avenue, seven at Indian Wells, four at the much smaller Napeague beach — and designating one for recyclables and another for "light trash." Mr. Van Scoyoc agreed that the signage is "haphazard," but said that almost all of them were necessary. "The last thing we want is garbage overflowing, seagulls and animals scattering it."

The handicapped signs, the ones warning of rip currents, and the ones designating beach access numbers for the use of emergency personnel must stay, the supervisor said, but "we can definitely improve the visual — you want to see the ocean is still there — and consolidate the signs."

Seth Turner, the Amagansett School superintendent, told the supervisor that bike racks at Indian Wells were blocking the handicapped signs there. "The last northeaster might have blown them over," Mr. Van Scoyoc suggested. He promised to have the racks moved.

Michael Jordan, who lives in the former Bell Estate off Old Stone Highway, warned that beach fires on the Barnes Hole beach and elsewhere were imperiling the dry, wooded area. "We have no county water, only cisterns," he said, asking that police patrols be kept up along the beaches. Three summonses were given on Friday night for a "huge fire" near Albert's Landing. Mr. Van Scoyoc said he would bring it up at his weekly meeting with department heads.

The evening concluded with a short report on the ongoing campaign for mail delivery in the hamlet. Announcements were placed in mailboxes at the post office a few weeks ago asking people to sign petitions to that effect, at any one of four locations. One was Vicki's Veggies, which reported about 85 signatures to date; the other three — Stony Hill Stables, Amagansett Wines and Liquors, and the American Legion — did not report. "We're chipping away slowly and hope to have a really good count next month," said Deborah Wick, a member of the mail delivery subcommittee. One thousand and three signatures are needed for the process to begin. 

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