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Town Board establishes new policies for town beaches

Beach attendants will be told to only check parking stickers for residency, rather than inspecting people who arrive on foot this summer, the Southold Town Board said at a work session Tuesday. Pandemic-era signs will also be taken down.

Members of the town Anti-Bias Task Force said people walking or riding bikes to town beaches should not be asked for IDs or residence papers and the town’s parks department should introduce that in employee training. They also requested that Southold remove “ambiguous signs regarding access to the beach.”

“Two members of our own task force have experienced bias in trying to enter a town beach and have been stopped by the kids,” a representative said. Task force members emphasized that blame shouldn’t rest on the teens working at the beach, but said they should be trained to either check every person for residency or none at all.

Town Board member Jill Doherty said for part of last summer, the town was still under a state of emergency with beaches subject to COVID-19 rules, so that may have caused some confusion.

“Last summer up until July or August we were still under the state of emergency for COVID and there was one particular beach that was constantly overcrowded so we kept that COVID rule enforced,” she said. “That’s why you have a lot of confusion with the signs, there’s still COVID signs up.”

Supervisor Scott Russell said he does “think we need a plan that’s going to regulate beaches,” and suggested establishing “clear criteria for parking.” Beach code may be changed in the future.

Last year, the town indicated plans to restrict walk-up beach access to residents only to reduce overcrowding, following a similar COVID-era policy.