Of Trucks And Trustees

Hamptons Editorial

Homeowners and other plaintiffs on the short end of a 2016 Supreme Court decision decided to challenge an outcome that strongly concluded the East Hampton Town Trustees held control over a portion of ocean beach on the Napeague stretch known locally as “truck beach.”

Briefly, a fair number of nearby homeowners felt the truck traffic on the sand near their homes had become too dangerous to continue unabated; that children and bathers were in danger. If truth be told, the beach has, over the years, been a summer nesting spot for local families in their trucks.

Further, ownership records and deeds to their properties indicated much of the so-called beach was possibly privately owned.

The court felt otherwise, and it reaffirmed a basic tenet this town has lived by for more than four centuries: that the Town Trustees protect the properties under their jurisdiction for the people and assure that citizens will always have open access to the water.

There have been several court cases over the past 10 years that have weakened the authority of the Southampton Town Trustees in our opinion. Unfortunately, these rulings were used by other government entities or wealthy property owners to try and take away beach and water access from the townsfolk. That can never be allowed to happen, in either town.

Appealing the decision in East Hampton is the prerogative of those who question the court’s decision. They too, have rights, and are citizens and taxpayers.

As has been the case from the start of this chasm, it’s created an “us against them” standoff that has gotten ugly at times. It would be unfortunate to revisit those days again. There is plenty of beach between East Hampton and Montauk, and those of us who choose to drive on it treat it with respect, regardless of sometimes-shrill rhetoric.

There are two sides to the argument, but there can be no give and take about the authority of the Town Trustees. It’s a matter we have to agree to disagree about, and respect each other’s position.

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