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Southold Town Board to hold special meeting Wednesday to discuss beach conditions and parking issues

Photo: Katharine Schroeder

After hearing residents’ complaints last week about the lack of parking and overcrowded conditions at town beaches, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell has called a special town board meeting for Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issues.

“If we were to wait two weeks [to discuss the issues at a regularly scheduled work session] we’re already two-thirds of the way through July and anything we need to implement could take another four weeks if it needs a public hearing,” Russell said at the July 5 town board meeting, after listening to the complaints of several residents.

“It needs its own meeting,” he said.

Several residents complained about conditions at New Suffolk beach in particular.

“There was not one place to park,” Mattituck resident Debbie Zuhoski said of the situation over the holiday weekend.

Zuhoski noted that there is a beach attendant on duty only on Saturday and Sunday between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. People get to the beach and take up the limited number of available parking spaces before 10:30 a.m., she said.

“There were probably 300 people on that beach this weekend,” she said.

New Suffolk resident Joseph Polashock said the majority of people parking at the beach “don’t live here.”

He said stickers on vehicle windows indicate they are from other towns and even other states.

“There’s no enforcement,” Polashock said. “Why can’t the TCOs and police come down and enforce the law?”

Zuhoski and others complained that the bathrooms at New Suffolk beach are not opened until 11 a.m.

“We go to the beach in the morning to have a cup of coffee and read the paper. If we have to go to the bathroom, where do we go?” Ed McDonald of Mattituck said. “Why can’t we give the sector car a key to open it up in the morning?” McDonald said vandalism in the early morning is not going to be a problem.

Others complained that there are no beach attendants on duty on weekdays, something the supervisor said was not needed in the past.

Still others complained about people bringing dogs on the beach or not cleaning up after their dogs, the use of town boat ramps by nonresidents and the sale and distribution of day passes to nonresidents.

“It’s kind of obvious that Southold’s been discovered,” said John Betsch of Southold. “We’re starting to boom here.”

Betsch said existing enforcement practices may no longer be adequate.

“We need new thinking,” he said. “The Town of Huntington now has armed park rangers patrolling beaches. They were put in place last year. It might be a concept worthwhile pursuing,” Betsch said.

The town board at the same meeting last week extended the season for which a parking sticker is required for designated parking areas. The new rule requires a parking sticker from May 1 to Nov. 1, extended from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.