The profound cold that gripped the East End last week had the effect of freezing patches of Gardiners Bay and Peconic Bay to the extent that it became possible to walk or drive from parts of the South Fork clear across to Shelter Island. And, since locals are always looking for ways to get to Shelter Island on the cheap, people began walking and driving to and from the island across the water in a fairly constant stream.
On Saturday, local police started receiving calls from residents who, observing pedestrians and vehicles making their way across the water, were worried for the thrifty daredevils’ safety. According to Hamptons Police Department spokesman Larry Hirsch, the police shut down several routes across the ice they found in use on Saturday afternoon.
“We determined several access points around Sag Harbor where motorists were driving their vehicles onto the ice,” Hirsch said. “Obviously, if somebody wanted to go across on foot, it would be much harder to stop that, since you could pretty much hop on there wherever you want. But there weren’t too many places where you could drive a car out there, so we got a handle on that.”
The police actions were not without controversy, however, as several motorists accused the officers of doing the bidding of the ferry companies.
“It’s so typical of the Hamptons,” complained one motorist who wished to remain anonymous. “God forbid they let us get a couple of free trips out of this polar vortex thing. Not to mention being able to get across in the middle of the night.”
Hirsch was unapologetic about the police actions. “Why would anybody want to go to Shelter Island when it’s 8° out, anyway? Don’t give me that baloney. They just wanted to hot dog it out there. Get a life!”