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Aug 21, 2012 6:31 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Surf Camp Causes New Conflict At Picnic Area Beach

Aug 23, 2012 10:09 AM

A stretch of Southampton Village beach that has been the focus of lawsuits filed by nearby homeowners for decades has once again become a battleground—but the fight this time is between beachgoers and a local summer camp that teaches young kids how to surf.

Some of the regular users of the area, colloquially called the “picnic area,” say that the arrival of a popular surfing program has created overcrowding, a safety hazard and has once again raised the specter of wealthy homeowners renewing legal efforts to get the beach closed to vehicles. The same stretch of beach was the subject of a court battle just a few years back, one that squelched an effort to ban vehicle access to the section of beach.

“A homeowner said to me the other day that if the surf school doesn’t stop, they’re going to start [the lawsuit] again,” Francis Adamczeski, a regular user of the picnic area, told members of the Southampton Town Trustees, who regulate the use of the beach and the access roads to it, on Monday. He presented the Trustees with a petition signed by more than 200 town residents asking that the Trustees ban the operation of commercial businesses at the picnic area, saying, “The popularity of the surf school has created congestion both in the water and on the beach—too many vehicles and surfers has created an increasingly hostile and dangerous environment.”

Mr. Adamczeski said that vehicles driven by the dozens of instructors of the Flying Point Surf School, based at Flying Point Surf & Sport in Southampton, and the parents of surfing students have overflowed any legal parking areas near Road F and Road G, the two access roads that lead into the picnic area, and have started to clog the shoulders of Meadow Lane and the access roads.

Compounding the issue is the current arrangement of the ever-shifting offshore sandbars, which has made the waves just off the picnic area perfect for surfing for the last two years—the best such “break” in the eastern half of the town, according to surfers. The good waves are what drew the surf school to the site, but they also attract many accomplished surfers on some days, and that has created a clash of users, with more skilled wave riders sometimes nearly crashing into the slow moving young novices and their instructors.

“When there are waves, it’s mayhem,” said surfer Jim Williams. “It just becomes too much.”

Mr. Williams said that the students and instructors, nearly 100 in all at some times, are at the beach nearly all day, every day. There are as many as four or five groups of kids throughout the day, from 9 a.m. until nearly dusk on some days, including Saturdays and Sundays, when the picnic area is traditionally already packed nearly to capacity with hundreds of vehicles parked on the beach.

The school’s creator and director, Shane Dyckman, manager Bethany Semlear—whose father, Trustee Jon Semlear, recused himself from the discussion of the conflict—and several of the camp’s instructors attended Monday’s meeting.

Ms. Semlear told the Trustees that the camp was based at the beach in Sagaponack and at Agawam Beach in Southampton Village last year, adjacent to the Southampton Bathing Corporation—a location that had drawn some complaints to the Southampton Village government as well, Trustee Fred Havemeyer noted—and explained that the group has to go where there is a gentle break in order to teach students. The break at Agawam Beach this year, she said, is “shore break,” which is dangerous for surfing, especially for novices.

“We chose [the picnic area] this season because it is the safest place to take these children. There is a nice gentle break,” said Mr. Dyckman, the camp’s founder. “We’re the only ones there during the week, mostly. There’s been maybe five days of surfable break for real surfers this summer.”

Ms. Semlear said that on most days, there are actually only two instruction periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. On Monday, she said, they had 42 students and 30 instructors in the water from 9 a.m. to noon.

“We employ 35 local kids, me being one and my sister [another],” she said. “This is the only break in Southampton right now, so it’s like a kid who doesn’t want to share his ball with the rest of the playground.”

The Trustees took no action on Monday.

The surf camp’s supporters and detractors also flooded into the Southampton Village Board meeting on Tuesday night. Dozens of instructors, students and parents of campers turned out to plead with the board to side with the surf camp.

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The lead instructors are rude and drive recklessly on and off the beach. A few weeks ago while fishing I noticed a large group of people walk on the beach from the heliport access road and walk to the break near Gary Mcs Way. After thinking it might be a large sponsored surf tournament or whale washed up. I walked down to see what was going on. To my surprise it was a surf school, I was in shock on the amount of people in attendance. I counted about 100 children holding hands and standing in a ...more
By Common Scense (24), Southampton on Aug 22, 12 12:54 PM
3 members liked this comment
Counting lessons are probably available at your local elementary school. I recommend Ms. Isaacs, she did a great job teaching me in kindergarten.
By DUDE'SBESTFRIEND (3), Southampton on Aug 26, 12 9:28 PM
I learned how to surf the hard way: for free.
By johnj (1020), Westhampton on Aug 22, 12 1:12 PM
4 members liked this comment
they are doing the same in napeague in east hampton. now the eh town board has approved another camp, global boarding to go to the same area.
By tito (56), e hampton on Aug 22, 12 1:45 PM
Same people complaining want millions to replenish the beach. Tell them do it themselves
By chief1 (2791), southampton on Aug 22, 12 1:47 PM
2 members liked this comment
so sad that at 60 I finally got so fed up that I left my hometown. thanks for ruining it everyone.
By local (106), north sea on Aug 22, 12 3:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By local (106), north sea on Aug 22, 12 3:54 PM
Weird what $$$ does, the business owners are too aggressive and greedy in my option. It's the new Apple, Starbucks, hunger Games groupies.
By BlackDog (47), Boca Raton on Aug 22, 12 8:51 PM
1 member liked this comment
I can't believe that I'm reading about people complaining about kids playing on the beach. This is a public beach- if you megarich jacka**es want a private beach go buy one somewhere far away. I think the problem here is that you people just don't know how lucky you are if this is all you have to complain about. you make me want to vomit
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Aug 22, 12 8:58 PM
3 members liked this comment
Petition drive was started by lifelong residents trying to protect the last bit of enjoyment we relish in a town that has sold the rest of itself out to money.
By WMFlyPt (13), WaterMill on Aug 23, 12 2:36 PM
First off, get the name of the surf camp correct, Michael Wright, What J-School gave you a diploma. Next up, the beach is for everyone. Every kid every parent.
Every kid has the right to enjoy the ocean. Period. With that said, so does every non surf school participant. Sandbars change every year, and surfers migrate to those spots. They are coveted in the summer months. What I've seen by FPSS is a blatant disregard for the other surfers and their assumed friends. It's been years brewing and ...more
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on Aug 22, 12 10:50 PM
The article has been corrected to reflect the correct name of the school and the correct spelling of Mr. Dyckman's name. The Press regrets the errors.
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (116), Westhampton Beach on Aug 23, 12 10:12 AM
We , the residents and freeholders of the Town of Southampton are now the victims of Mr. Shane Dykman's success. The "surf camp"'s web site claims the site of activity to be Road G, that's the helicopter parking lot! The claim that since no money changes hands on the beach, there's no commercial activity there, one look at the photos shows the beach being used for just such a reason.
SouthamptonVillage law expressly forbids commercial activity on the beach! Why is this illegal activity alowed ...more
By bigfresh (4596), north sea on Aug 23, 12 7:33 AM
So, whose "success" is permitted to harm the "public good", and whose is not?

"May the rich get richer!"

"We're doing good. I've got plenty of work."

"Me, the wife, and retirement. That's what it's all about, right?"...
By Mr. Z (11704), North Sea on Aug 23, 12 8:39 PM
Also, they say "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"...

You remind me of my writing, when I forgot what paragraphs truly meant for a bit...
Aug 23, 12 9:32 PM appended by Mr. Z
Now, on to the post. What should we. or should we not permit "capitalization" upon? We have some who say "safe place to teach" because of the condition of the surf. We have some who say "pure nuisance". How about what I think the real, deep, honest underlying problem truly is; is that there are really too many people crammed into one small place, for everyone to possibly be "happy". Sustainable, and equitable? NOT...
By Mr. Z (11704), North Sea on Aug 23, 12 9:32 PM
Let's be clear, this isn't a heart-warming non-profit organization enriching the lives of children in need. This is a business, doing business, in a non-commercial area. A picnic area! Seems like an open and shut case - if the village forbids commercial activity, then what grey area is there?

Also, 70+ people entering a surf break, en masse, is just vulgar, bad surf etiquette, and poor manners. Shame on these guys. You've had a good run of it, but you brought this upon yourselves. ...more
By supermike (1), southampton on Aug 23, 12 11:11 AM
By YouAreAllKooks (2), Southampton on Aug 23, 12 1:41 PM
By YouAreAllKooks (2), Southampton on Aug 23, 12 1:41 PM
Found this in Southampton Village Code online:
§ 80-1. Regulations enumerated.
[Amended 1-29-1982 by L.L. No. 1-1982]
It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to engage in or do any of the acts hereinafter set forth on the ocean beach in the Village of Southampton, which area is more particularly described as follows: bounded on the north by the general line of the top of the first rank of the ocean dunes, on the east by the easterly Village boundary line, on the south ...more
By Common Scense (24), Southampton on Aug 23, 12 3:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
and what are you going to do about the parties at the beach run by caterers. Sunday night my son was told that he could not park at a village beach because there was a private party. Several years ago I was driving on the beach- all permits in place on my truck- and a man stepped in front of my vehicle and told me I could not drive any further. Private party. Basically got thrown off the beach by private security.
If the Village stops the surf camps as a commercial entity then they will have ...more
By lazymedic (100), southampton on Aug 27, 12 4:41 PM
3 members liked this comment
Perhaps Emperor Epley has a comment?
By Nero (300), Sag Harbor on Aug 23, 12 3:57 PM
Please contact the village to express your position at themayorsoffice@Southamptonvillage.org. Namely your position on private citizens having to get the village to enforce its own laws so that we don't lose our beach access.
By WMFlyPt (13), WaterMill on Aug 23, 12 5:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
Correction: mayorsoffice@southamptonvillage.org
By WMFlyPt (13), WaterMill on Aug 23, 12 9:56 PM
EMail sent to Mayor. I was recently at the beach with my two sons, ages 9&11. Both boys wanted to surf the small waves and it was a perfect day for them. . However, I feared for their safety and did not allow them to use their boards. When a father can't surf with his kids because a commercial surf school is operating a business, there is something wrong!
By Cmd176 (1), Sag Harbor on Aug 23, 12 8:15 PM
By WMFlyPt (13), WaterMill on Aug 23, 12 9:59 PM
Middle class set back over last decade: report
By Susan Heavey | Reuters – Wed, Aug 22, 2012 2:32 PM EDT.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The middle class has shrunk drastically over the last 10 years as Americans' net worth has plunged, wages declined and standards of living slipped away, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Middle-income earners, long seen as the solid center of the country, are pessimistic and place the blame squarely on U.S. lawmakers, banks ...more
Aug 28, 12 9:23 PM appended by Mr. Z
@ V. : Wrong thread, my bad...
By Mr. Z (11704), North Sea on Aug 23, 12 9:23 PM
And how is this on topic?
By V.Tomanoku (788), southampton on Aug 24, 12 12:28 AM
Its simple. First the camp is almost done as summer is over, but it shold now be limited to no more than 50 kids. Try that and if the complaints continue cut it down to no more than 25 a day and only once a day. I have been to busy to be there this summer however I would want my spot on the beach too
By North Sea Citizen (564), North Sea on Aug 24, 12 6:15 AM
I do a yearly "benefit" for homeless dogs and I have to get a permit, pay for police assistance, plus have my own insurance cover it, for the safety of our village & towns people. Which I can understand. What I don't understand is why the town & village is opening themselves up for a huge lawsuit if any of these kids get hurt or someone else, who is a innocent bystander. Everyone should have the right to enjoy the beach, surf etc. But this is a growing business taking place on our beach that is ...more
By patricia (8), southampton on Aug 24, 12 10:07 AM
Okay, okay.. Lets all just take a step back and look at this from logical position. I have lived in southampton for 34 years and consider myself a local. I visit ROAD G weekly and sometimes even more than twice a week. I have seen the surf camp and the way they operate. I saw nothing apparently alarming to me or my wife. However, after hearing of the "locals" unrest with the visiting surf camp. I had decided to look into the matter and become a engaged citizen of my beloved town and village. ...more
By THEDUDE (2), SAG HARBOR on Aug 24, 12 5:50 PM
It's very simple. The Village Board passed a resolution allowing this camp to use the beaches. They just have to regulate the number of campers like the neighboring communities. There are a lot of locations to surf, but few that a camp can operate at. This group was operating in two other locations first, but they were moved because of complaints. They are running out of locations. There is another surf camp that dominates Flying Point Cut. Maybe they should be regulated smaller so that both camps ...more
By RKJBS (14), Southampton on Aug 25, 12 12:10 AM
"The group was operating in two other locations first, but they were moved because of complaints." Please think long and hard about that fact and see if you can come up with a reason or two.
If the camp will be allowed to operate in the village, the first regulation must be that they will not be able to use the 4x4 picnic area. If that's part of the permitting process most of the resistance will be gone. Additionally, making the classes smaller and having no weekend lessons would help. ...more
By bigfresh (4596), north sea on Aug 25, 12 6:44 AM
2 members liked this comment
Not an attorney at all, but it seems confusing when all i hear is that they are unsafe because of this or that? However, you just said if they would just leave the 4 x 4 area this would stop... hmmm... i guess my assumption has been correct. You don't really care if the camp is unsafe or if the kids are in "danger". "Just remove them from my private beach." Lets just change your mantra for your petition! " Keep the wealthy and their kids from coming to ROAD G!" Also i actually did more research ...more
By THEDUDE (2), SAG HARBOR on Aug 25, 12 8:07 AM
Petition started which may impact camp in question is titled "save the picnic area". It states "We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge the officials of both Southampton Town and Village to immediately ban any daily commercial operation that utilizes the “Picnic Area” at the west end of Meadow Lane" Many of these comments seem to miss this point entirely.
By WMFlyPt (13), WaterMill on Aug 25, 12 3:17 PM
Bring it on DUDE! Village code forbids ANY commercial enterprise on the beach. END OF STORY! If the surf camp and the younger punk instructors, not the older guys mind you, but the young , arrogant little twits weren't so obnoxious and disrespectful to there fellow residents, surfers and beachgoers, this whole issue would never have come to light. But since it has, all the petitions in the world can not stop the law from being enforced. There were issues in the water last year and this year the ...more
By bigfresh (4596), north sea on Aug 25, 12 5:36 PM
That's it! SURF OFF! You name the time and place.
By DUDE'SBESTFRIEND (3), Southampton on Aug 25, 12 7:45 PM
By DUDE'SBESTFRIEND (3), Southampton on Aug 26, 12 9:44 AM
If God wanted vehicles on the beach he would have given them wings and made them seagulls.
By btdt (449), water mill on Aug 26, 12 4:30 PM
Yeah shut this camp down I would rather these kids drinking and doing drugs while driving around town. These people spend millions of dollars on these beach front house they should be able to tell all of us what to do.
By GoldenBoy (350), EastEnd on Aug 27, 12 7:32 PM
WOW! First of all....the hightide seaweed line is where the property ends. The beaches are for eveyone!
By 1bigfish (18), Hampton Bays on Aug 27, 12 10:00 PM
Village code prohibits ANY commercial enterprise on the beaches, the one exception is the concession stand at Cooper's. Perhaps that's where the circus should set up. Since those in support of the surf camp think it's a great thing and causes no problems to beachgoers, let them do business where business is allowed.
By bigfresh (4596), north sea on Aug 28, 12 6:36 AM
You know a 100 years ago when I was a kid the TOWN would actually do things like this - set up swimming classes ect for the town kids to learn. Instead of bickering over who has the right to beach -( Cause we all do- rich and poor )
Set up a Town sponsored program for kids - Fact is Rich people look on regular people as an insult to their way of life- Thank God tumbleweed Tuesday is so close
By lo-cal (77), southampton on Aug 28, 12 9:23 AM
1 member liked this comment