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Jul 13, 2010 4:36 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Sagaponack and town still wrestling to rein in crowds at popular beach gathering

Jul 13, 2010 4:36 PM

Summer 2010 has once again brought an eclectic horde of bohemian and bon-vivant partiers to Sagaponack Main Beach on Monday nights—and, once again, Southampton Town and the local village government are wrestling with ways to rein in the revelry.

The gathering of a loosely organized group of drummers and percussionists on Monday nights has been drawing as many as 1,000 or more people to the largest town-owned beach east of the canal nearly every summer Monday for the last few years. Town officials say that despite the issuance of thousands of parking tickets, changes to local laws and a strong police presence at the weekly event, the crowds are still coming and still leaving the beach a mess when they finally depart.

“We continue to be concerned with the amount of people that go to the event, because we believe the event has outgrown that particular facility,” Town Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Allyn Jackson said this week. “Our stance is that they have the right to be there, it’s an open facility, but we’re stepping up efforts to enforce our codes, because with that many people there, it’s important to keep order as strictly as possible—and a lot of codes are being broken.”

The town prohibits bonfires and dogs on its beaches—both a common accessory to the picnics most attendees set up on the beach while a knot of percussionists wanders around the beach thumping out improvised beats. When the party breaks, the leftovers of both are scattered among bottles and other trash that remain. Mr. Jackson said that a dedicated crew of Parks Department workers has to be dispatched to the beach every Tuesday morning to clean up loads the garbage left behind on the beach the night before.

This year Southampton Town Police have taken to actively warning all comers that any cars in the parking lot after 9 p.m. will be ticketed. All town-owned beach parking lots close at 9 p.m.

Since last summer, the Village of Sagaponack has expanded parking restrictions on the streets leading to the beach, targeted specifically at the gridlock and congestion on narrow residential streets caused by the Monday crowds. Just this Monday, the Sagaponack Village Board introduced a local law that would extend no-parking restriction on local streets to 9 p.m. in the summertime, and it is expected to go into effect before summer is over. A public hearing on the code change will be held on August 2 at 9:30 a.m. at Sagaponack Village Hall.

Village Mayor Donald Louchheim said that the overflow of hundreds of cars from the 250-space beach parking lot in years past sometimes spread down residential streets for a mile or more from the beach.

“We have nothing against the drummers. But what we don’t like is the streets being totally clogged and driveways blocked with parked cars and traffic being gridlocked,” said Mr. Louchheim, the former publisher of The Southampton Press. He added that the streets with restricted parking are tow-away zones, but the village has not asked the town to turn to that option until new signs warning of the possibility of towing can be erected.

Despite the restrictions on the street-side parking, and clear warnings from the small platoon of police and code enforcement officers present at the beach each Monday evening, dozens of parking tickets have been issued each week this summer, Mr. Jackson said. Many seem to treat the cost of the tickets, as much as $100, as a cover-charge for the most popular social event of the week, he said.

“When this was at it’s zenith, last summer, there were as many cars on the roads as there were in the lot,” Mr. Jackson said. “That’s many more than are using the beach during the day. It hasn’t been that bad this year, but we’re still giving out 30 or 40 or 50 tickets every Monday.”

Some village residents have complained of the noise of the drums emanating from the beach, but Sagaponack Village Trustee Patrick Guarino, who lives on one of the streets near Sagg Main Beach that was once typically clogged with parked cars, said that if the parking is contained to the parking lot and the event wraps up at 9 p.m., few would object to it.

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arrest and waterboard.
By fishy (92), East Hampton on Jul 14, 10 11:23 AM
3 members liked this comment
Drummers always bang to their own beat... but clean up what you leave behind,
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Jul 14, 10 1:09 PM
3 members liked this comment
I'd always liked the idea of the drum circle, however the people leaving their garbage behind and parking wherever they feel like is disgusting. "Many" people really have no respect for the area or the people around them and I'm quite sure that the people who started the drum circle are appalled by this behaviour. Unfortunately around here, if a good thing is going on, it doesn't take long for people to start crapping it up.
By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on Jul 14, 10 1:36 PM
1 member liked this comment
The spin on this article sucks.
How about lets talk about the huge ongoing party and mess (underground sewage pools, etc) that has been ongoing at all the ugly McMansions of the area? What is the town and village doing about that except lining there pockets? The village of Sagaponack is corrrupt and this event is poetic justice.
By deKooning (106), southampton on Jul 14, 10 2:28 PM
DeKooning, I think you're fishing off the wrong side of the pier...what does permitted septic systems for legal homes have to do with anything? The fact of the matter is those homes are so infrequently used they no doubt put less sewage into the ground than a year round ranch house does.

The Town and Village should embrace this instead of fighting it. The garbage obviously is a huge problem, and there should be strict enforcement of that and dogs on the beach but there must be a way ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 14, 10 2:55 PM
3 members liked this comment
I agree about that a year-round ranch would probably load more nitrogen into the estuary than an infrequently used McMansion. But this is no excuse.

Why don't you try looking at google maps. It should be readily apparent that the area is under an unreasonable amount of environmental stress. The native flora and fauna are dissappearing. If you don't want to draw conclusions form the groundwater nitrogen loading, think about the pesticides that run off from most of those green lawns. ...more
By deKooning (106), southampton on Jul 15, 10 9:34 AM
I shouldn't indulge you because it's so far off topic but...

The homes that are in that area fit the allowable zoning set by the towns. I would rather have one 10,000 sq ft. home on 5 acres, then five 3,000 square foot homes on 1 acre. Not to mention the taxes that those part time owners provide makes up a big chunk of the budget.

Ira Rennert's house may be 100,000 sq ft. but he owns 60 acres which breaks down to 1,700 sq ft./acre which of course is probably below average for ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 15, 10 8:38 PM
You really sholdn't indulge yourself. All the development is wrong. Period!
By deKooning (106), southampton on Jul 19, 10 8:18 AM
So I presume you live in a tent in the woods? Why is it OK for you to have a home but not for anyone else?
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 19, 10 9:19 AM
It looks like a fun event after watching the video. It's only common decency to pick up after yourself whether it's a small group or a large crowd. What event out here draws a thousand people and it's free. Find a way to make the parking work, but people have to clean up after themselves.
By Mets fan (1501), Southampton on Jul 14, 10 3:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is a made up issue from the rich folk who bought houses in the area. Public beaches are for the public, put out more trash cans and pay someone overtime to clean up--we pay taxes for our beaches not so some hedge fund whiner can have privacy.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jul 14, 10 5:00 PM
4 members liked this comment
Leaving garbage on the beach has nothing to do with garbage cans.It has to do with No one taking the time to pick up there own garbage.If you cant take your crap home don't take it there.
A public beach is not a public dumpster.
Its bad enough that these rich folk never get bothered for illegal dumping in our local dumpsters and garbage cans every sun and monday.
By richgetricher (9), northsea on Jul 14, 10 7:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
The hipsters are SO going to be doing this at Ditch...I'd guess by next week.
By zaz (197), East Hampton on Jul 14, 10 9:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
now thats funny.....and unfortunately....probably true.

Damn hipsters with their lame fedoras and complicated shoes!!!
By tm (174), mtk on Jul 15, 10 1:46 PM
Dirty Hippies! lol Impound the dogs.
Raise the fine for littering to $1000 and enforce it! If these people don't have the common decency to pick up after themselves they should pay for the clean up. Amazing that littering is a problem at such a pretty beach.... no class!
Parking.... if they are willing to pay the fine collect the money, the Town sure can use it.
By ICE (1214), Southhampton on Jul 15, 10 1:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
so whats wrong with a bunch of hipster doofuses banging coconuts together and taking the marijuana? groovey!! get your mojo going baby, we'll shag in the dunes tonight.
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jul 15, 10 10:19 PM
By yassar arafar (33), sag harbor on Jul 17, 10 3:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
the town won't do this because they want this group to get a permit, and pay the huge fee that would be required for this many people, for each gathering. if they were paying every week you would see plenty of garbage cans, etc.
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jul 18, 10 7:06 AM
The "group" actually consists of very few people, not enough to require a permit. It takes place at a public beach, is unorganized and due to word of mouth has spread to the numbers of people that now show up.
By Sag Native (54), East Hampton on Jul 18, 10 9:49 AM
news flash- you need a permit for a fire on the beach and you need a permit to use the parking lot after hours- i think they close at around 9 pm. and i guess you didnt bother to read the acticle- "drawing over 1000 people" over 1000 is "very few"? are u kidding?
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jul 18, 10 10:20 PM
By asurest (117), easthampton on Jul 18, 10 7:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
o.m.g. asurest is sadly correct, the Mercedes dumping their crap. Rich people Can be very weird!
I forgot about that part. Pathetic. Hey, how 'bout this?
Tell 'em it's strangling the sea turtles and seals-- that might resonate!
It sounds like a really fun event, and perhaps the cure is for the participants, as part of the Koom-By-Yah event, would be to police their own garbage.The drummers could start the example. I agree more trash receptacles or a dumpster positioned in the sand inconveniently ...more
By Jean (79), whb on Jul 18, 10 11:05 AM
Got ta say I see no garbage in the footage from 27 East. I would venture to say that the parking is probaly over flowing, and the real complaint is the excessive use of apublic beach in what is normally a very private community. I have never been to the drum circle but I bet its a great get together. Many diverse people from all over having a good clean fun. I'm sure with all the publicity it will get bigger yet and there will be hightened sence to make sure the beach is cleaner than they actually ...more
By Bob Schepps (77), Southampton on Jul 19, 10 10:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
If the crowd is indeed around 1,000, I think a permit is appropriate. Instead of a huge permit fee there should be a bond in place. Something that says if you don't clean up after the party, you loose the money. If the parking rules are broken, then the car gets ticketed. Sounds like you need some porta-potties too.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Jul 19, 10 7:01 PM
There is no reason why the town should pay anything to have a bunch of hippies making a whole load of noise and throwing garbage around the place.. I'm sure the cops could benefit the public in a lot of different ways than that! Just watch the video- nothing in sync, just noise.. its a joke!
By Mark 81 (2), Hamptons on Jul 21, 10 8:55 PM
My favorite part is how the local govs are trying to shut down an open public facility.

In Sagaponack, where they are trying to pretend its 1785, it's understandably ridiculous. In SH Town, where the red carpet has been rolled out for developers for decades (and continues to be Bull's Head, the Tuckahoe Mega Mall, etc.) it is just another example of their utter inability (or unwillingness) to connect (over)development to traffic, noise, environmental damage, loss of community character, ...more
By Noah Way (450), Southampton on Jul 22, 10 11:59 PM
This is the BEST fun you can have on Monday nights!!! LOVE IT~
By Miss K. (103), East Quogue on Jul 23, 10 10:01 AM
Some people are just jealous cuz they got no rhythm...can't play an instrument...but sure can toot their own horns. Let the music stay, they're not the ones making the mess. Their hands, after all, look pretty busy to me. It's the usual summer suspects. Ones who stop off at all the public trash cans on Sunday nite before heading back home, if they even bother to do that. Too lazy/too cheap to buy a dump permit OR pay someone to remove it for them. It's been that way for decades. Hey everyone, come ...more
By trublnocknatmydr (35), East Hampton on Jul 23, 10 5:25 PM