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Officials fight rowdy Hamptons beach parties

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MICHAEL R. SISAK, AP
Thu Jul 3, 2:30 PM UTC

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Those who come to the Hamptons — known for its swanky cocktail parties and sweeping vineyards — looking for alcohol-fueled parties on the beach could soon be out of luck.

East Hampton lawmakers are close to an alcohol ban at Indian Wells Beach — a usually family-friendly stretch that peeved residents are now calling "Fratster Beach" after rowdy out-of-towners held wild, spring break-style parties there the last two summers.

Officials said the worst offenders would drink themselves to oblivion, stumble drunkenly into the surf, use the sand dunes as toilets and expose other beachgoers, including children, to an uncensored array of unseemly acts.

In addition to being the only municipality on the east end of Long Island that allows alcohol on the beach, East Hampton is one of the few tourist destinations in the country where drinking on the beach is still allowed.

Towns in the Carolinas and Florida started banning drinking on their beaches in the 1970s. San Diego enacted a ban in 2008 after a Labor Day celebration turned violent.

A picture posted on Instagram last summer of bikini- and board short-clad 20-somethings clutching bottles and cans of beer at Indian Wells Beach carried this matter-of-fact caption: "Take all of your perceptions about frats ... and put them on a beach."

Citing complaints about such behavior, East Hampton councilwoman Sylvia Overby proposed a measure in the spring to completely ban alcohol at Indian Wells and an adjacent beach during daytime lifeguard hours.

That proved too broad for another group with authority over East Hampton's 26 beaches, the town trustees, a body established by King James II's royal governor in 1686.

This week, ahead of the long Fourth of July weekend that is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors, they came to an agreement: a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ban on alcohol on the main 2,000-foot stretch of the beach where most visitors congregate and lifeguards patrol during swimming hours.

A public hearing on the proposed ban is scheduled for July 17.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell says East Hampton is open to all comers — Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian recently filmed scenes for their reality show at Indian Wells Beach, to the chagrin of locals — as long as they're responsible.

"It's the behavior that's being created by the drinking that's the problem," he says.

Dan Limmer says he and other Long Islanders have had to abide by drinking bans in other towns for years. East Hampton, he says, is behind the times.

"Why is a law being created now when it's always been a law on other beaches?" he says. "They shouldn't have a different set of rules. We can't drink, so why should they?"

Trustee Deborah Klughers said she fears banning drinking at Indian Wells will compel the rowdy crowds to infiltrate the town's other beaches, particularly in Montauk, where it will remain legal.

Overby says, "If the problem moves, then the laws will move with it."

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