The village of Southampton authorized its first surf school, a month after changing a 1982 code banning businesses on its beaches.
The move, taken last week, has raised concerns among local residents that the village’s iconic public resource will be commercialized and that year-round residents will be undermined by better-off summer vacationers whose children are among surfing students.
Mayor Mark Epley said the city acted for security reasons. The Flying Point surf school has been operating in violation of the city’s ban for more than a decade with a handful of students, he said, but the village began to receive complaints when the number of Enrollment has grown to 60 children, seven days a week, in the past two years.
The license is only valid for this summer, limits the surf camp to 20 students and restricts them to a particular area of the village beach. Epley said next year the surf school’s license will be the subject of a public offering, such as the decades-old snack-shack concession at Coopers Beach – the only other business allowed on the beaches of the town.
In recent town halls, residents have ticked off a litany of businesses they fear following – including rental of lounge chairs and umbrellas, ice cream and hot dog trucks driving on the beach, and apps of $ 5 sunscreen like those available on the Jersey Shore.
“The beach should be a respite from the hustle and bustle,” Matt Palumbo, 43, a surfer who grew up and lives in Southampton, said in an interview last week.
Southampton resident, lawyer and surfer Tim Behringer, 60, has predicted that next year more businesses will come to sell merchandise on the beach.
“This is the only place where we can still escape the madness,” he said. “Where is he going to stop? “
Commercialization of the beach “will not take place,” Epley said, as the village council will not allow it.
But, he said, “there are going to be surf lessons. We are a seaside community.”
The Flying Point surf school, where parents pay $ 750 for five days of instruction, used a narrow break outside the “picnic area,” a place used by locals, who complained about the influx of children, Epley said. Safety concerns were magnified last year when the camp placed dozens of young surfers in a small area with more experienced surfers.
But, he said, the broader concerns about over-marketing are unfounded.
“These are completely separate issues,” he said.
Flying Point surf school owner Shane Dyckman of Sag Harbor did not respond to calls for comment.
Eric Shultz, chairman of the directors of Southampton, the separately elected body that oversees the coastline, said it was unreasonable to ban lucrative businesses on the beach. But if an operation gets too big, there may be “common sense rules and regulations”.
“It’s a natural resource that everyone wants to use,” he said.
Palumbo said that while the surf school has been the catalyst for opposition to businesses on the beach, he is more concerned with an underlying issue, which is that “the whole town is being wholesaled. The beach is the public’s right to It’s like selling air.