Walking to a town beach this summer? Bring ID

Heading to the beach? Along with towels and sunscreen, Southold Town residents should plan to pack a proof of residency in their bag this year.

After a season that limited beach access to residents only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town is planning to continue the practice to help reduce complaints of overcrowding.

“We’ve been hearing that other towns nearby are just sticking to residents only,” town government liaison Denis Noncarrow said during a Town Board work session Tuesday.

While the town has already taken steps to keep nonresidents out — eliminating single day beach parking passes as well as nonresident seasonal beach passes — a new caveat will require proof of residency for beachgoers that do not arrive in a car this year.

Last year, staff at local beaches had been accepting nearly anything with a local address, from AirBnb receipts to PSEG bills, according to town recreation department supervisor Janet Douglass.

“There wasn’t any formalized message conveyed as to what to bring,” she said, calling for more consistency this year.

After some discussion, officials agreed that acceptable forms of residency will include a driver’s license or car registration, lease or deed, tax or utility bill as well as a student ID.

In addition to beach attendants, additional traffic control officers hired by the town will also be a more regular presence at beaches. Police Chief Martin Flatley said Tuesday that New Suffolk beach as well as 67 Steps in Greenport were the source of many complaints and there may be officers stationed at certain access points. 

“The strategy is to get them before they get onto the beach,” Chief Flatley said.

Guest passes will still be available for friends and family members who are visiting but must be obtained in advance by the homeowner, according to officials.

Riverhead town will also no longer sell one-day or seasonal beach passes to nonresidents this year. On the South Fork, East Hampton Town opted to raise the cost of nonresident seasonal passes from $375 to $500 while the single-day pass doubled from $25 to $50. Southampton Town is charging $400 for nonresident beach parking permits and $30 for a daily pass.

With many Southold beach parking permits set to expire next year, officials are hoping to be able to issue a walk-in pass along with beach stickers next year to eliminate the need to carry different forms of residency.

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