Regulars at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett said Saturday that drunken, rowdy behavior at the summer destination has abated over the past two years, even as officials weigh a ban on alcohol there.
The East Hampton Town Board wants to ban drinking on the beach -- one of the few on Long Island that allows it -- citing complaints about young people congregating in wild parties, littering and urinating in the dunes.
The ban would cover a 2,000-foot stretch of Indian Wells during lifeguard hours on summer weekends and holidays. A public hearing is scheduled for July 17.
The proposal has highlighted long-standing tensions between families who own homes in the Hamptons and young visitors who rent and vacation there.
"It's always been a family beach, so the fact that it's been sort of overrun by short-term renters who don't frequent the shops and leave a mess on the beach is disappointing," said Michael Lawsky, who was there with his two children and owns a home in Amagansett. A "club scene" atmosphere "is problematic," Lawsky added.
But some said Saturday that the party scene seems to have calmed down since it peaked in 2012.
"Right now, it's a problem that doesn't need to be solved at this point," said Chris Miller, 29, whose family owns a house in Amagansett, as he tossed a Frisbee with friends. "It doesn't seem as crowded or overrun this year. It's sort of petered out."
Ken Farrell, a year-round resident of East Hampton, said litter and drunken behavior in recent years kept his family from Indian Wells, but he recently started bringing his children back. "This beach has changed a lot," he said.
Still, Farrell said he supported the drinking ban because he said it would stop people from driving under the influence of "alcohol and too much sun."
Some beachgoers rested beer cans or red cups in the sand as they tossed footballs or played games such as KanJam and Spikeball Saturday. Once in a while, men would scramble over the dune to urinate rather than use the restrooms at the parking entrance. A few groups of 10 to 15 people played music from speakers as they lounged around coolers.
Still, there was no sign of tension between the groups of drinkers and families playing in the sand and waves close by.
East Hampton Town police, who have stepped up enforcement at the beach over the past two years, had several officers stationed in the parking lot.
Police said they have issued 60 summonses each year in 2012 and 2013 for violations such as public urination, littering and having an open container of alcohol in the parking lot at Indian Wells.
Some young vacationers said they were taken off-guard by the ban proposal. They said drinkers are generally respectful to others.
"I see it as, I'm coming here on a vacation, to relax," said Zack Josepher, 26, of Wantagh, who was staying at a friend's relative's house. "I like coming here because it's a little oasis. We're people who try to clean up and not be idiots."