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Greenport Village officials concerned their beaches could ‘get overrun’ this summer

As Southold Town officials consider doing away with daily non-resident beach passes, some Greenport Village officials worry that a ripple effect could lead to crowding at Fifth Street Beach and Park.

“We’re going to get overrun,” said trustee Mary Bess Phillips at a work session Tuesday, urging the board to reach a solution before the season begins.

But while a permitting process could deter day trippers, village Mayor George Hubbard Jr. doubts it would be effective in practice. “Just looking at numbers,” he said, pointing out that there are approximately 52 parking spots for 2,200 village residents.

In addition, the ordinance that requires a sticker to park at the village-owned beach dates to when the village had its own police department, Mr. Hubbard said, adding that parking for the beach is along the road, where parking is permitted throughout the village.

In response to some resident complaints about parking, crowds and noise over the summer, Trustee Peter Clarke asked the board to come up with a “common sense list” of rules that can be clearly posted when the park officially opens in June.

Currently, Mr. Hubbard said, many of the rules are unwritten and unenforced, like a rule that village parks close at dusk. “When dusk is at 8:30, there’s nobody around to go tell them they have to leave,” he said.

Ms. Phillips said a main source of complaints this summer had to do with gatherings that sometimes swelled to over 50 people and featured amplified music. She wondered if it’s time to require an assembly permit for those seeking to use the area for family reunions or parties.

While gatherings on village property of more than 25 people usually require a permit, Mr. Hubbard said unorganized events like family gatherings aren’t subject to the same rule. He added that the village has already cut off power to the park to deter parkgoers from setting up DJ equipment, a measure which in some cases inspired people to bring their own generators.

Trustee Jack Martilotta expressed hesitation at imposing permitting rules at the park, arguing that many gatherings start off as small affairs.

“I’ve joined in plenty myself. You see some people you know, they offer you a hot dog, you hang out for a little while,” he said. “It’s a public beach where people naturally congregate.”

He cautioned that the board should set realistic expectations and deal with issues like loud music as they arise, fearing that overregulation will alter what he said is one of the advantages to living in Greenport.

Ms. Phillips said she doesn’t want beachgoers to feel as if they’re being watched by code enforcement, but said neighbors’ quality of life concerns should be taken into consideration.

With just one code enforcement officer working in the village, Ms. Phillips suggested a part-time attendant could assist in enforcing rules and picking up garbage as needed.

Mr. Hubbard said the rules and regulations must first come from the village board, who is expected to begin formulating a list next month.