The woods near the power lines along Merchants Path and Townline Road seem to be a dumping ground.
Sinead Fitzgibbon, who uses the trails to run and mountain bike, said she has documented nine complaints with the Town of East Hampton in an attempt to have the area cleaned up.
Trash — from household garbage to old furniture — is strewn about, along with shell casings and other debris. "The shells are from lead shot which is no doubt leaching into our precious aquifer, along with the garbage which has been sitting there for nine months now despite repeated calls and visits to East Hampton Town Hall," Fitzgibbon noted in a recent email.
Betsy Bambrick, the director of code enforcement, said on Wednesday that an investigation has been opened up into the matter, but declined to give further details.
In the meantime, "The place is getting worse weekly and dumping invites more dumping if not removed," Fitzgibbon said.
The responsibility for the area seems to be a complicated issue. The area along the power lines spans Wainscott, Sagaponack, and the unicorporated part of Sag Harbor. It falls under several different jurisdictions, including the Town of East Hampton, the Town of Southampton, and Suffolk County.
For years, the Southampton Trails Preservation Society picked up the slack, pulling out countless loads of trash from that area, including broken-down, abandoned cars, according to Dai Dayton, a former president who also heads up the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt (The power lines actually run right through the middle of the Greenbelt).
But, the area would just become trashed all over again. "You'd clean it up and the next day it's right back to the way it was," Dayton said.
Volunteers have somewhat given up because the towns have not come up with a solution to combat the dumping in the first place, she said.
She believes the only solution lies in cutting off vehicular access to the dirt road that runs along the power lines. She said it's a suggestion that's been made before, but between the private properties around the area, the town and county jurisdictions, in addition to an easement the Long Island Power Authority has, it's been a futile effort to have the road cordoned off.
"Someone really has to look at the whole picture," she said. Cutting off the dirt road to trucks and all-terrain vehicles, but so that hikers and bicyclists could still access the trails, like Northwest Path, would make a huge difference, she said.
"Both towns needs to get together and come up with a solution," she said. "It's time for a park ranger."
Deborah Klughers, who is an East Hampton Town Trustee, also heads up the town's litter committee, said she recommends signs like “Do Not Litter” or “No Dumping” be posted, and having the area blocked off.
She also suggested that the town contact the Department of Environmental Concern to see if they could try and catch the litterbugs in action. She said she would put the item on the litter committee's agenda. It meets at Town Hall on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
What do you think should be done about the trash along the power lines and overall problem of dumping? Tell us in the comments below?