The Hamptons Police have announced the fall 2018 schedule for rolling up the sidewalks across the South Fork.
“Some people think that Tumbleweed Tuesday (the day after Labor Day) is the start of the off-season,” Hamptons Police spokesman Larry Hirsch says. “But you know that summer’s really over when we roll up the sidewalks and put them in storage for the winter.”
Although the roll-up is an annual event, it remains a source of tremendous contention among residents and business owners who complain that it inhibits year-round activity in the area. Hirsch finds this complaint without merit. “With all the griping about summertime crowds, you’d think they would be thanking us for helping tamp it down in the winter. But no!”
The roll-up process takes a little over a week, and every year the police begin the process in a different location.
“This year, we’re starting from Montauk,” Hirsch says. The shifting of start locations and itineraries is designed to provide a measure of equity to the different villages. “If we started in Southampton every year, that wouldn’t be fair to businesses and pedestrians there,” Hirsch adds. “So we have a regular cycle that we follow. We don’t see why it should be controversial.”
Hirsch says local police won’t start removing the sidewalks in Montauk until November 7, the day after Election Day. “We used to start this whole thing a lot sooner,” he says. “But in the last 20 years we’ve not only found people are lingering out here longer after Labor Day, but we’ve also become more sensitive to the Jewish holidays.”
Once the roll-up begins, pedestrians and businesses will be able to use the Hamptons Police’s new “Where the Sidewalk Ends” app to get up-to-the-minute updates about where sidewalks will still be usable. 2018 marks the debut of this special service, which can be accessed on a range of devices. “The app will be a big help for people,” Hirsch says. “It will take all of the guesswork out of it.”
Despite this helpful new technology, pedestrian groups have mobilized against the roll-up. Denton Fisk, who heads an advocacy group called Sidewalkers Unite, had sharp words for the custom. “What this is really about is people who don’t want to shovel their walks when the snow comes,” Fisk says. “The police are just subsidizing laziness and absentee ownership.”
Hirsch says the police expect to complete the sidewalk roll-up by December 4. “Barring any unforeseen weather events, this should be a very smooth year. We have a lot of practice with this.”