Ditch Plains Slated For Makeover

Peggy Spellman Hoey

East Hampton Town officials are poised to move forward with a $250,000 revamp of parking at Ditch Plains Beach, including plans for resident and non-resident parking requirements, a reconfiguration of spaces, and an expansion of one of its three parking lots.

Under the plans, which partially came from Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, the paved parking lot at the beach would be set aside for residents with parking stickers. The lot would also have a drainage issue fixed and parking spaces re-striped. A booth would also be installed for an attendant to check parking stickers, similar to that of Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett.

“That will help with the congestion,” said Councilwoman Sylvia Overby. “People were also sort of parking all over the place.”

The other two parking lots would be designated for non-resident permitted parking, with the one at Otis Road slated for 18 additional parking spaces, which would allow for double parking at the lot. The other lot, which is affectionately called “the Dirt Lot,” located at Deforest Road, would possibly be revegetated and paved, but the town has to get community input.

Town officials were expected to speak about the project during their work session, which was scheduled after deadline yesterday at the Montauk Firehouse.

The suggested improvements at the Dirt Lot emanated from Police Chief Michael Sarlo and Chief Harbormaster Ed Michels, who described the state of the beach as “bad” with cars parking “every which way” and “huge” ruts in the dirt caused by trucks, Overby said.

“We try to grade it at least once or twice a year and it never holds,” said Overby, noting the paving would put an end to the dust and the mud, which runs off onto the beach because the lot is not properly graded. “We hope this will fix some of those issues and then we will be able to stripe it [for parking spaces] and tell people this is where they are going to have to park.”

In previous years, the town has issued tickets to beach goers who park outside the parking lots on Deforest Road. Parking is prohibited along the roadway. However, officials are hoping increasing parking spaces will “not have as many people ignoring” the no parking signs, Overby said.

“Safety and order were the two words that I kept hearing from Chief Sarlo and Chief Michels,” she said.

The project would be paid for with a $250,000 bond.

In other town news:

A group of residents requested at Thursday’s town board meeting that East Hampton Town officials invest more time and money in preserving the town’s aquifers, specifically in Stony Hill, which provides drinking water to much of the eastern portion of the town.

Alexander Peters, president of the Amagansett-Springs Aquifer Protection Committee, asked the town to consider about 50 lots within the aquifer.

“It’s just incredibly important to the vast majority of the people in the town,” he said.

Kevin McAllister of Defend H20 spoke about salt-water intrusion from sea level rise, noting that as the water starts to move landward, the demand for the aquifer will rise.

“A monumental change is forthcoming,” he said.

Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said the town has already preserved approximately 675 acres and will continue to pursue preservation along the Stony Hill aquifer.

Other speakers, like Rod Richardson of Amagansett, expressed concern about how the addition of the town’s proposed affordable housing development in Amagansett will affect the aquifer.

“The aquifer here is very important, so maybe we can figure out a way to do affordable housing without building,” he said, adding that the town could focus on existent building, rather than adding new development.

Proposed legislation amending the town’s fencing code to include definitions of posts, pillars, and gates and allow special exemptions for property owners to obtain deer fencing was withdrawn for further discussion.

The board heard from Michael Marran of East Hampton Fence and Gate, who called the amendments too complicated, and said the legislation needed to be clarified before the board moved forward with its adoption. Councilman Jeff Bragman said he did not believe the legislation was “good to go” because he wasn’t sure it is “clear enough.”

“We need a little help from people in the industry, I think,” he said.

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