- Drawing attention to a nagging conundrum, Mark Gardy, a mild mannered attorney and summer resident of Sagaponack wrote to the village trustees looking for clarification regarding the split personality and discordant management of the beach and parking lot at the end of Town Line Road which literally divides East Hampton from and Southampton. The beach falls within the borders of Sagaponack Village, calling attention to the crisscrossing of jurisdictions in effect there.
The letter, written by the Erica's Lane homeowner who resides in New Jersey and vacations in Sagaponack, brought to light several years of grappling with the access dilemma faced by residents using the beach.
Town Line Beach aptly named after the road that forms a line
between the towns of East Hampton and Southampton is controlled
by both towns on each side of their border line.
As it now stands, there is no parking on the Southampton Town side of the roadway. Dogs are not allowed on the East Hampton side of the beach. Southampton town residents and Sagaponack Village residents must pay $325 for a seasonal parking permit enabling them to park on the East Hampton side of the road. And Southampton town residents, perhaps needless to say, need a town permit to park at designated town beaches.
Meanwhile, residents of both towns can use either side of the beach. If you turn right and head west you are in Southampton, turn left, and head east and you are in East Hampton, stand still you are in Sagaponack.
Somehow this doesn't seem fair to Gardy who often walks to the beach since his home is less than half a mile away. Gardy also drives to this very same beach if he has beach chairs and umbrellas or is in a hurry. He has to pay to park on the East Hampton side of the street and frequently sits on the dog-free side of the beach.
"I had a thought about how the Village could either make a little bit of revenue or at least reduce the costs for its citizens," Gardy wrote in his letter to Mayor Louchheim suggesting Southampton residents be allowed to use their own town stickers to park on the East Hampton side of the road.
"East Hampton residents use the Southampton beach without sharing any costs," Gardy noted in lawyerly fashion, suggesting the two towns work out an arrangement allowing Southampton residents to use their own town beach parking stickers on the East Hampton side of the street at Town Line Beach only since the beach straddles two towns and is used freely on both sides of the border by residents of both towns.
East Hampton Town permits parking on their side of
the narrow road. Southampton Town does not allow
parking but permits residents to bring their dogs to the
"The bottom line is we pay East Hampton to use either their beach or pay East Hampton for the use of our beach with no reciprocation from East Hampton residents" Gardy said noting Southampton residents paid to park on the East Hampton side of the street while frequently using only the Southampton portion of the beach.
No one is kicking sand in anyone's face yet but it looks like a beach war may be shaping up as we wait out the rest of the winter anticipating more snowfall before the fur flies on beach issues.
Mayor Louchheim is referring the matter to the Village Attorney for further review. Trustee Lee Foster noted it was impossible to allow parking on both sides of the road because Town Line Road is very narrow as it approaches the beachfront. "There would be no room to turn around," Foster said.
"I don't want this to turn into a cause celebre," Gardy said. Meanwhile four reporters sat a few feet away from the Mayor scribbling furiously in their notebooks while one pounded the keys on a laptop.
"This has been on my mind for a long time," Gardy said when contacted on Wednesday afternoon at his law office in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
Town Line Road extends from the south side of Montauk Highway to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean where it deadends at the beach.