Pictured Above: New Suffolk Beach, Wednesday night
Southold Town has created a beach patrol task force to enforce access to beaches throughout the town, which is being limited to residents only, including people who walk onto the beach.
The Southold Town Board hashed out enforcement of beach restrictions at a special meeting June 23, in light of New York State requirements that beaches operate at a maximum of 50 percent capacity this summer to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Other East End towns have also restricted access this season, with East Hampton Town limiting beach access to residents only. Southampton Town is not issuing non-resident daily permits and Riverhead Town had limited parking to residents only this spring but will begin selling non-resident permits this weekend.
Southold’s task force, led by Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, will consist of additional officers, Southold Town Bay Constables, Traffic Control Officers and other staffing to control access and patrol the shoreline at night, including road ends and other points of access, checking for non-permitted individuals, according to the town.
The town’s recreation department will increase daytime beach attendants who will, with oversight of a Beach Manager and available law enforcement, make sure only town residents or others holding recognized passes access the beaches.
Southold’s official bathing beaches will be staffed with lifeguards for the summer season beginning this Saturday, June 27.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell issued an Executive Order effective June 24 that “all entrants must produce verification of town residency upon request.”
“We realize that these rules will put an undue burden on our residents and presents a substantial inconvenience that had not been necessary in past years, however, they are being put in place to maintain the quality of our shoreline and to make sure their day at the beach is a pleasant one,” said the town in a June 24 press release.
At the June 23 meeting, new Councilwoman Sarah Nappa, the sole Democrat on the board, raised concerns about ‘permitting people,’ reminding the board that fishermen in Southold, many of them Latino, are often “people with lower economic status who get hit hardest and that’s why they’re out there fishing.”
She added that many such fishermen may not be able to get driver’s licenses or prove their residency even if they do live in Southold.
“For most part it’s not rich people [out fishing],” she added. It’s ppl who are hurting now. [This] is a path toward creating luxury community.”
Mr. Russell countered that there are other ways fishermen can prove residency besides their driver’s licenses.
“I’m trying to see how economic status relates to residency,” he said.
Proof of residency accepted by the beach patrol will consist of documents typically accepted by the town clerk for issuance of a residential beach permit, such as car registration with a local address and property tax bills, utility bills and leases.
The town is also issuing hotel-motel passes and is asking proprietors of businesses in the hospitality industry to contact the clerk’s office at 631.765.1800 for more information.
Residential beach parking permits are still available by ordering online, by mail or can be issued at the drive-through at the Southold Town Annex from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. from Thursdays through Sundays.
All residential parking permits that expired on December 31, 2019 will be honored until July 10 for parking purposes only. Proof will still be needed to enter the beach on foot.
Anyone interested in applying for a beach attendant position should call Recreation Supervisor Janet Douglass at 631.765.5182.