The lawsuit was filed by rich oceanfront homeowners who want to privatize the beach.
FACT: The lawsuit was filed by 120 families who live near “Truck Beach” who pleaded with the Town and Trustees for years to prohibit summer daytime beach driving or to move the SUVs to a safer environment, away from young local children who are trying to get to the shoreline, but were repeatedly rebuffed. So they turned to the courts as a last resort. These families are good neighbors and welcome pedestrian use of the beach, so long as it’s done responsibly.
The fight is about public beach access.
FACT: The homeowners near Truck Beach have repeatedly invited reasonable public pedestrian use of the beach, so it's not about public access. The fight is about rampant and unrestricted Daytona-style SUV blight on a formerly pristine East Hampton beach, especially on summer weekend days. It’s about hundreds of cars driving on fragile dune ecosystems and parking like sardines right at the shoreline, along nearly a mile of oceanfront. It’s about young children not being able to experience a safe beach, but rather having to traverse a highway of speeding vehicles to get to the water. It’s about hundreds of people and dogs urinating and defecating on the beach on summer weekends. It’s about keg parties and drunk driving on the beach. It's about outdated Town policies that haven't kept pace with a growing community.
Pedestrian access to this beach is impossible, that's why we have to drive onto it.
FACT: Pedestrian access is easy. There is limited parking at Napeague Lane, where it's about a 50-foot walk to the beach in question. And there is unlimited parking on Napeague State Park's beach, where it's a 1-foot walk to the beach in question. To reach the center of Truck Beach on foot would take about 7 minutes. SAFE has also proposed the creation of a shuttle bus service from a centralized parking lot to ALL of EH's beaches, including the beach in question. That would eliminate the "need" to drive on the beach while increasing pedestrian access.
SUVs driving on our beaches don't harm the environment.
FACT: The Town of East Hampton already determined the SUVs are causing alarming environmental destruction, wrote extensively about it in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), yet look the other way because it's politically inconvenient. This blueprint of East Hampton’s coastal management policy that has been adopted into law by the Town, the State of New York, and the Federal government states verbatim that:
- “Vehicles can disturb nesting birds, compact their wrack line food source, and trap unfledged juveniles in wheel ruts.”
- “At the east end of Marine Boulevard [the access point to Truck Beach], constant use by SUVs have decimated a dune and attendant vegetation; excessive traffic has expanded the dune, opening a new flood corridor during Hurricane Bob in 1991, which has since flooded repeatedly in winter storms… Intensive SUV beach traffic from Marine Boulevard east into Napeague State Park has impaired the beach ecology by damaging vegetation, decreasing nesting habitat and compacting wrack forage for shorebirds. Beach grass growth is retarded by SUV traffic, reducing the stability of the beach in storm conditions and its ability to recover from storm erosion. …. Significant damage has resulted from the irresponsible actions of some off-road vehicle enthusiasts and the sheer numbers of sport utility vehicles. Flooding and erosion in this area will continue if beach vehicle traffic is not reduced or redirected."
These are the Town’s words, not ours. Public beach access should not be destructive beach access.
I live elsewhere in East Hampton. This doesn't affect me.
FACT: It's already affecting you because the Town is diverting funds from services that matter more to pay for the lawsuit and condemnation for the SUVs, and the Town may raise your taxes to pay for it all. Only a very small percentage of East Hampton residents currently drive on Truck Beach, yet every East Hampton taxpayer is being forced to pay for the abuses there, whether they want to or not. This taxpayer money would be better spent on affordable housing, police and fire departments and other vital services. The Town owns other uninhabited beaches where the SUVs can go, which won't cost taxpayers one cent.
MYTH # 6
No one’s been able to resolve the conflict, so there must be no alternatives.
FACT: Simple resolutions exist, such as the free option of moving the SUVs to uninhabited beaches like Dolphin Drive/South Flora or Napeague State Park, where beach vehicle access already exists and is advertised, yet barely used. Alternatively SAFE has proposed creating a eco-friendly shuttle bus service from a centralized parking lot to all of East Hampton's beaches, which would increase public beach access and parking while negating the "need" to drive on— and destroy — the beach. SAFE wants to resolve the conflict.