The Village of Southampton, in an effort to pare down crowds and maintain COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, did not sell day parking passes and restricted out-of-town residents from accessing Coopers Beach.
Though there was some concern, things went smoothly, village officials said, amid a growing optimism that the novel coronavirus may be petering out and the village might return to normal more quickly than originally anticipated.
“It was a beautiful weekend. We had restrictions in place, but it seemed to be working well,” Town Trustee Andrew Pilaro said. Some visitors, finding out they couldn’t park simply dropped off passengers at the beach and drove away. Later, they would return, Pilaro surmised, having secured a parking place closer to the village business district.
“We enter Phase 2 this week, but it is only as good as our metrics,” Mayor Jesse Warren said. “If the metrics turn, the season is gone.”
Southampton Village residents were issued parking passes for local beaches in time for Memorial Day weekend — up to three per household depending on the number of registered vehicles at each village address. Summer visitor permits will only be available to individuals renting for 30 days or longer at a cost of $450. Local non-village residents — residing within the Southampton fire or school district — can buy a permit for $250. Senior citizens and veterans pay a discounted rate of $175.
Pilaro said the board is constantly looking for ways to keep small businesses engaged, and has embraced sidewalk dining.
“We’re constantly looking outside the box. These are our citizens,” Pilaro said. “We have compassion and empathy for them. They need to work.”