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Town Board considers changes to beach parking permits

The Southold Town Board is considering changes to its beach parking permits, as well as making boat ramps and night fishing accessible to town residents only.

The suggestions were discussed at Tuesday’s work session, but board members still need to review the proposed changes and set a public hearing on any legislation.

The town is mulling raising the price of beach parking stickers from $10 to $15, which is more comparable to fees in other towns, according to Councilwoman Jill Doherty. Also up for discussion is a separate resident-only sticker to use town boat ramps at a fee of $15, or whether to include boat ramp and beaching parking under one sticker. The recommendations called for permits that distinguish residents and non-residents with circle-and square-shaped stickers, respectively, according to Councilman Bob Ghosio and Ms. Doherty.

Other proposals include a yearly fee, suggested at $300, for a placard for companies that launch boats at town ramps.

Supervisor Scott Russell said the problem at the beaches is not stickers, it’s a matter of parking, adding that the challenge is not necessarily people who try to “cheat the system and use the beach for free.” Ms. Doherty said she looks at it as the population growing each summer, so the town needs to be proactive so the situation does not get out of hand.

Meanwhile, Mr. Russell said night fishing is the biggest source of complaints he gets — more than parking at beaches — including concerns of trespassing, littering, noise and camping. The problem with the current code, he said in an email following work session, is that it only regulates parking lot use, not beach use. The town is suggesting a resident-only night fishing license that would cost a $10 administrative fee.

“There are a lot of ways to get to the beach besides using a town parking lot,” he said. “Because Southold has no restrictions for night time fishing, it has become a preferred destination for out-of-town fishermen. This volume of use has lead to a lot of problems.”

The situation has become impossible to manage, he said. By creating a license granted to residents only, those issues can be reduced, he said. The supervisor acknowledged that local fishermen may have a concern at first, but “I hope they see this as an effort to better manage the beaches for their benefit.”

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