Protestors Want Phone Booths Not Wi-Fi at Coopers Beach

Phone Booth Coopers Beach
Photo: 123RF

Hamptons Police Department officers broke up multiple protests at Coopers Beach in Southampton this week. The series of small, nine-person demonstrations took aim at the Hamptons Municipal Board’s plans to build a cellular phone cupola at the beach.

Starting on early this week, members of the Ye Olde Communications Society (YOCS) began appearing with signs arguing that the Municipal Board should immediately scrap their efforts to improve cellular service at the beach, and instead “install a good, old fashioned phone booth” near the parking lot or concessions stand.

“T’ain’t right what they’re doing here,” one YOCS protestor, who asked to remain anonymous said. “Ye could put a phone booth right there, betwixt the parking field and the food merchant’s stall,” he continued, noting that beachgoers had gone without perfect cellular service for centuries. “Why start now?”

YOCS members handed out pamphlets—that appeared to come from a printing press, not a computer—explaining that they’d prefer no phone at all, but a phone booth would be a fair compromise. “We understand coppers and their magistrates require proper communication, but must we also encourage folk to play Candy Crush and surf the internet at the beach, when they could be surfing actual waves?” the pamphlet asks, adding, “They say the antennae would be covered by a so-called ‘tasteful cupola,’ which is certainly nice, but our quarrel is more with the function and result of said antennae, not the look of ‘em.”

Ye Olde Communications Society is a Hamptons-wide activism group closely affiliated with Ye Olde Sag Harbor, which protested the relighting of Sag Harbor Cinema’s newly restored neon sign last June. Like this week’s protests, which aim to turn back time a few years at Coopers Beach, Ye Olde Sag Harbor had argued the neon sign was far “too futuristic” and not in keeping with the historic character of the former whaling village.

“These protestors all left peacefully when asked—no arrests were made and no charges have been filed,” HPD spokesman Rex Gallant said on Tuesday. “The fact is, many of us on the force sympathize with Ye Olde Communications Society’s message and ideology, but we need a proper signal to do our work, and we can’t be dropping quarters, or even dimes, into a pay phone every time we have an emergency,” he continued.

Despite the reasonable police response, a large portion of Hamptons locals and well-heeled part-time residents have responded favorably to the YOCS agenda. Hundreds of people were crowded on the beach over the weekend, so the pamphlets made their way into a lot of hands. Insiders say at least one member of the Municipal Board has even changed his or her stance on the subject, and they have ordered a feasibility study for the phone booth option.

It appears this fight is not over. For now, it’s uncertain whether beachgoers will get to livestream their experiences on Instagram, or watch the Dangie Bros or Logan Paul on YouTube while getting a tan.

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