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Oct 17, 2012 6:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Beach Markers Going Up, And Coming Down, Throughout Southampton Town

Oct 17, 2012 11:34 AM

Southampton Town is installing a new system of location markers along its Atlantic Ocean beachfront this month to aid emergency responses at the ocean.

The long-awaited program, which was an initiative of former Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, has apparently already rankled some, however, as a few of the brightly colored plastic markers have been yanked out of the ground or stolen.

“They put them in about two weeks ago, and we’ve been checking on them, because … it takes time for the sand around them to settle, and more than 10 have already been removed in some way,” said Ross Baldwin, the town’s geographic information systems manager. “A couple were pulled up and left lying on the beach, and a few others were taken.”

The markers are little more than thin rubber-plastic composite planks, resembling vinyl siding, in a variety of colors—a different color for each of the nine hamlets that has oceanfront in the town. Each is 10 feet long—about 5 feet buried into the sand near the dunes, and 5 feet visible above it. The planks are flexible so they will bend but not break when buffeted by winds or even run over by a vehicle being driven on the beach.

The markers will be spaced between 500 and 1,000 feet apart, and each will be adorned with a three-digit reflective number, starting with the number 001 at Moriches Inlet and ascending eastward to number 287 at the East Hampton Town line in Sagaponack.

The beach marker system was conceived to help people calling 911, especially tourists at beaches that bear no official designations, to more easily identify their exact location to public safety coordinators. East Hampton Town has discussed their own system of beach markers, possibly coordinated with Southampton Town’s system but plans have not been finalized.

Mr. Baldwin said that Southampton conducted a pilot program with the markers in 2010 and asked permission of any homeowners on whose sand one of the markers was to be placed. The positioning was chosen to avoid them being in close proximity to private access paths to the nearest home.

Those who look to the beaches for sanctuary from the man-made world, however, may be finding the sudden appearance of neon posts in their landscape a bit garish.

“They look like someone just picked up a piece of trash and stood it up in the sand,” said a man who gave his name only as Walter while walking past one of the markers on a beach in Bridgehampton Tuesday morning. “They’re not very attractive are they? Not very Hamptonsy.”

The installation of the markers will cost the town about $12,000. The surveying and installation of the markers was done by the Westhampton firm Chesterfield & Associates.

As for complaints about the aesthetics of having brightly colored plastic sticks protruding from the sand, Mr. Baldwin said that whatever dislike people might have for them should be outweighed by the concern for the well-being of others.

“It’s for emergency response purposes,” he said. “They’re very thin, they don’t stand out and they could save somebody’s life.”

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They don't really seem like they belong and sort of spoil the vista. Maybe something more substantial in a more "earthy" tone might be more appealing. Still it does not excuse the vandalism, which may have nothing to do with the esthetics of the posts and are just plain hooliganism..
By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on Oct 17, 12 8:13 PM
Their appearance came unannounced. Their similarity to survey markers make it seem as something is 'going on'. Especially with them being installed at the same time conversations about bringing in sand were happening. It's a bit late but some kind of alert / education needs to happen. And, they are bright and ugly. Brown flex stakes would have worked. On the other hand, dogs really like them.
By bambi (76), bridgehampton on Oct 19, 12 7:37 AM
first of all brown stakes would blend into the background and not be visible- take a look at all the sand fence- held up with BROWN stakes. Also the colors change as u move down the beach- a different color corresponds to a different section of beach
Personally I think they are a waste of money and will be gone after the next nor'easter
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Oct 19, 12 5:34 PM
Ditto -- a waste of money, at least at THIS time of year.

When are the ID numbers scheduled to be applied, before or after the winter?

Does the Chesterfield contract contain any set prices for replacing stakes which are washed away? Hmmmmm . . .
By PBR (4952), Southampton on Oct 19, 12 5:56 PM
Great timing. Lots of swimmers this time of year. Tax dollars in action.
By Nero (298), Sag Harbor on Oct 19, 12 7:47 AM
Why not place them against the dunes, and yes, definitely, make them more aesthetically pleasing. This is a good example of narrow thinking without any consideration about what the rest of the community might think. Though it's not at all a bad idea, the case has not been made for the markers to be SO obtrusive and garish. In actuality we really DON'T have one incident per 500-1000 feet of beach per year, and certainly all those garish markers are overkill (especially to the tune of $12K). Placing ...more
By M. O'Connor (147), Southampton on Oct 19, 12 9:39 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think the point of them being brightly colored is so people can easily find them... that being said, I'm astonished that the installation of these (which wasn't very good if they are so easily removed) was $12k! I should have bid on the job... I would have happily done it for $10,000!

Wooden posts would be nice, but are surely cost prohibitive if these flimsy things are so expensive.... the Town should ask residents for ideas and I'm sure something could be crowdsourced that would ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Oct 19, 12 12:15 PM
Beach Lechis? I see an Oceanfront Eruv in the works. All we need to do is add string.
By G (339), Southampton on Oct 21, 12 8:18 AM