Southampton Town, Sag Harbor Village Cut A Deal To Allow Some Beach Access

Residents of the the East Hampton Town side of Sag Harbor Village will get to use Sagg Main, Mecox, and Scott Cameron ocean beaches, as well as Long Beach at the same price as Southampton Town residents under a plan worked out this week. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

Southampton Town and Sag Harbor Village have reached an agreement that will allow residents who live on the East Hampton Town side of the village to continue to have access to Sagg Main, Mecox, and Scott Cameron ocean beaches, as well as Long Beach, all of which are in Southampton Town, for this year.

Under the arrangement, the village will pay the town $10,000 to help cover the costs to Southampton Town, which would otherwise be underwritten by that town’s taxpayers.

Town Board members, who discussed the matter last week, stressed that it was a one-year deal only, and would have to be revisited next year.

Residents who live on the East Hampton side of the village will be able to buy a special beach parking pass for $40 — the same price as paid by town residents — but it will limit access to those four beaches.

Sag Harbor Mayor Kathleen Mulcahy said the agreement would preserve the status quo that has allowed all Sag Harbor Village residents to join their friends at nearby Southampton Town beaches, even though many of them do not live in the town.

Ms. Mulcahy said the village’s payment would come out to about $10 for each of the approximately 990 households on the East Hampton side of the village.

The deal will have to be approved by both the Town Board and the Village Board when they meet separately on Tuesday, May 11.

For years, residents who lived on the East Hampton side of the village were allowed to buy resident beach passes at Long Beach because of a condition set by the Foster family when they donated that beach to the town in 1949 requiring all village residents to have the same access as town residents to that beach.

Last winter, when the Town Board reviewed its beach parking policies, it learned that under the existing arrangement, those residents were getting access to all town beaches.

“For generations, basically anyone on the east side of Sag Harbor Village would pay the same rate as a resident of Southampton that would allow them to go to all the beaches in Southampton,” said Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “It was really an unfair gift to give these people who live in East Hampton the right to go anywhere, so this year we changed it, and we said you can pay your $40, but it only gets you Long Beach.”

When it changed the rules last winter, the board decided it would require village residents from the East Hampton side to buy nonresident beach permits for $360, a $40 discount from the regular fee.

That decision was met by a hue and a cry from among Sag Harbor residents, who said it was unfair of Southampton to require them to pay nonresident fees, even though they are, in fact, nonresidents.

The town’s parks and recreation director, Kristen Doulos, said only nine people had purchased a nonresident permit so far, and the board agreed it would refund their money.

The initial deal would have limited access to Sagg Main Beach, but Councilman Tommy John Schiavoni said many Sag Harbor residents also frequent Scott Cameron Beach in Water Mill. He said if they were all forced to use Sagg Main, it might overload that beach’s parking lot. After a brief discussion, the board agreed to include access to both Scott Cameron and Mecox beaches as well.

However, the access does not extend to simple road ends, such as Ocean Road in Bridgehampton, where parking permits are currently required.

Councilwoman Julie Lofstad also asked her fellow board members to reconsider restrictions, imposed last year, requiring parking permits at most bay road ends in town. The board adopted those restrictions after many bay beaches were inundated by out-of-town fishermen last spring when New York City beaches were closed due to the pandemic.

Supervisor Schneiderman agreed that someone who does not use beaches with lifeguards and restrooms might be “irked” if they had to pay to park at an unprotected road end, but the board agreed it would not take any action until the pandemic passes.