Surf Ban Rumor Spreads Swiftly

Gordon M. Grant
Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren speaks with surfers that gathered Sunday morning at Agawam Beach. Independent/Gordon M. Grant

More than 50 surfers swarmed the waters of Agawam Beach August 18 to protest an alleged ban on surfing at Southampton Village beaches from 9 AM to 6 PM June 15 to September 15. Village Mayor Jesse Warren said while the 40-year-old Southampton Village regulation is actually part of the town code, it is not enforced.

“There is no ban on surfing in the village,” he said.

In fact, one of the newly-elected mayor’s first efforts in his new administration was a push to bring back surf lessons after they were banned by the prior administration. More than one school will be allowed to obtain a permit from the village under Warren’s plan unveiled at the end of last month, and since his announcement early in July, two schools have begun the application process. There’s also a scholarship program set up where those who cannot afford lessons can apply for free ones.

Chloe Kimball, the organizer of the August 18 protest who began a petition that received 5000 signatures by press time, said Southampton police were telling surfers to get out of the water Saturday, “telling us they were going to fine us $1000.”

“This understandably caused disruptions and concern among those of us who love the sport,” Kimball said.

Jennifer Arnold said less surfing means more kids will end up in trouble.

“I have two sons that have been surfing since they were toddlers,” Caroline Fox said. “They are 11 and 12 now, and you can’t take this away from all the residents that surf all year long.”

“The beaches belong to everyone,” Scott Anderson said.

Warren attended the protest to show his support for the surfing community, and said while the code has been in place for quite some time, he’d like to rescind that part.

“I want to see people out surfing. It is not banned by any means,” Warren said. “You can grab your board and go surfing whenever you want. I’d like to repeal this part of the code and I think I have the support to do it.”

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