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Citizens' committee supports summer overnight-drinking ban on Montauk beaches

Looking east over Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk

Looking east over Ditch Plains Beach in Montauk on Sept. 7, 2015. Credit: Doug Kuntz

A summer ban on drinking alcohol on the beach in downtown Montauk has been endorsed by a citizens group as one of several measures East Hampton Town Board officials are considering to prevent the hamlet from erupting with unruly visitors again next year.

Members of the Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the board, voted Monday night in favor of a law that would prohibit drinking alcohol on the beach from midnight to 6 a.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

East Hampton Town Deputy Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc told the committee members and others assembled at Montauk Public School that drinking on the beach has become a "pregame" and "postgame" ritual for young visitors who party at bars in the downtown area.

Van Scoyoc said police have recommended that the board adopt some sort of ban on beach drinking so the mayhem caused by unruly partyers over this year's July Fourth weekend is not repeated. A record number of calls was made to police about various offenses, including public urination.

"Police and [code] enforcement [officials] have told me this literally adds fuel to the fire of this bad behavior," Van Scoyoc said of the "pregaming" and "postgaming."

Van Scoyoc said that though there is no formal proposal for such a ban before the board, "I think it deserves a discussion among the community. Do we look at this [issue] in some restrictive way or not?

"We're not looking to ban alcohol on the beach 24/7 365 days a year . . . we're not talking about people staying in a motel who want to go down to the beach and watch the sunset with a glass of wine," Van Scoyoc said. But he added, "We're the only community on Long Island that does not close their beach at night."

Those questioning the ban said they were concerned about where those who used to drink on the beach might go instead. One resident and others said they might go roaming around like the "walking dead" through nearby residential neighborhoods.

After the committee's vote, Van Scoyoc reminded the group that it is "an advisory committee to the town board. We ask for your comment and input, but we don't always go with what you suggest."

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