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Jul 19, 2017 10:15 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Summer Magazines Present Burden For East End Villages

Free magazines line the streets in Southampton Village during the summer months, though some stores refuse to have them placed in front of their stores. GREG WEHNER
Jul 19, 2017 10:27 AM

As the population of the South Fork swells in the summer, so does the number of free magazines that line the most heavily congregated areas of the hamlets and villages of Southampton and East Hampton towns.

Take Southampton Village, an epicenter of distribution for the publications. Jobs Lane and Main Street in the village are two of the busiest streets in the summer. Some stores have wire news racks next to their doors, offering up the free glossy publications, which greet the summer crowds with celebrities on the cover, and pages and pages crammed with both advertisements and photographs from the many events of a Hamptons summer, offering a veritable who’s who. Others are stacked on sidewalks near doorways, or in breezeways.

Due to a variety of factors, those magazines often end up strewn on the nearby sidewalks, or stacked in, or next to, village garbage cans. That’s created a burden to village officials, who say they are actively looking into ways to limit the practice.

“At what point can these magazines go digital?” said Gary Goleski, the superintendent of public works in Southampton Village. “Save the planet.”

Mr. Goleski said distributors typically place more magazines on the sidewalks than people are going to read—and many stores don’t even want them there. Some have resorted to placing signs: “No magazines, please.”

Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving said when distributors place their magazines in front of stores and don’t come around to dispose of last month’s magazines, the store owners often put the magazines in village garbage cans. When it rains, the magazines absorb the water, and when village crews come to empty the garbage, crew members risk hurting themselves from the weight.

It’s not a theoretical concern. According to Mr. Goleski, one of his workers hurt himself last year after lifting a bag full of drenched magazines, and hasn’t been back to work since. The same worker was able to claim workman’s compensation.

Along with having to pay the injured worker, the villages pay for the disposal of the magazines. Mr. Goleski estimates that cost at $6,000 per year.

John Kearns, the superintendent of public works in Westhampton Beach Village, said the same thing happened to one of his workers nearly 10 years ago. “One of the guys hurt his back trying to lift the container out,” Mr. Kearns said.

In 2013, Southampton Advocates for the Village Environment, or SAVE, attempted to address the issue of excessive magazines by proposing legislation to the Southampton Village Board that would prevent the disposal of publications into public trash bins, and prevent littering of the village streets and public and private property with the magazines.

But the legislation was placed on the back burner as the Village Board tackled other issues, like beach access and zoning changes.

After the effort was placed on hold, former Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said he would go around to the various shop owners and ask if they were okay with the magazines being placed in front of their stores, and request distribution lists from the magazine publishers, trying to control both the number of magazines and where they were placed.

This past Memorial Day, Mr. Epley said, Mr. Goleski’s crews collected two dump trucks worth of magazines, and took pictures. Those pictures were sent to the publishers of the magazines as evidence of the impact of the practice.

Roger Blaugh, a member of the SAVE committee, said he and other members went around to the shop owners as well, and showed them the policy they had written up, and stores began to adopt the policy on their own.

The policy listed requirements and responsibilities for the distribution of free, unsubscribed publications. It said the magazines could be placed only with the store owner’s permission, and the number of publications placed at one time would have to be agreed upon in advance. The policy also required delivery while the store owner is present in the store, rather than just dumping them at the entrance, and mandated that any remaining issues from a previous delivery would be picked up and disposed of by the publishers—and not in village trash cans.

Michael Bouker, the deputy superintendent of public works in East Hampton Village, said Village Board members similarly were looking to put restrictions on the magazine distributors a couple of years ago but wanted to see what Southampton Village was going to do first.

Echoing the sentiments of Mr. Goleski and Mr. Kearns, Mr. Bouker said the magazines are a nuisance. To address the issue, the East Hampton Village Department of Public Works has placed signs on village trash cans that say: “No Household Garbage Or Magazines.”

Mr. Bouker said the various free magazines that are placed on the streets in East Hampton are “unsightly,” and is something his crew just has to deal with—like ticks. He said that, like ticks, the magazines are around in the summer, and are a nuisance, but his team does whatever they can to deal with them.

Mr. Blaugh works for the Corcoran Group in Southampton Village, and admits that the company distributes its own real estate publication, and also accepts a lot of magazines to distribute. Each time the company is approached by a distributor, he said, they ask how many Corcoran wants, and that is how many are put out for people to grab.

“Every now and then, something shows up on the doorstep before we open,” he said. “We have to dispose of them back in the Dumpster.”

Other villages, like Westhampton Beach, also plan to begin addressing the issue.

“We are having similar issues with the magazine deliveries on Main Street and have been speaking with our village attorney as to any recourse we may have,” Westhampton Beach Village Mayor Maria Moore said in an email last week. “One suggestion of his was to send ‘cease and desist’ letters to the companies based on littering violations.”

Hamptons Magazine, which distributes its free magazine throughout the East End, has been part of the community for 39 years. According to Debra Halpert, the publisher of Hamptons Magazine, distributors of her magazine hold back on placing magazines on racks outside when rain is in the forecast and prefer to have the magazines placed inside if at all possible.

As far as the magazines being thrown out, Ms. Halpert said she would prefer to know about leftover copies, so that the magazines can be reused at events or placed in hotels.

“We want to be part of the solution and cleanup,” she said. “To me, part of our success at Hamptons is, we are responsive.”

Another free publication, Social Life magazine, has been distributed in the Hamptons for 14 years. “The magazines are placed on private property, predominantly owned by stores, who have given us permission for Social Life to be placed there,” the magazine’s press department said in an email on Monday. “Our strong, loyal readership will pick up the magazine within a few days. We monitor weather conditions constantly before distribution, and will distribute indoors or in covered areas if it rains.”

The topic is certainly not dead in Southampton Village. New Mayor Michael Irving said he plans to have Mr. Blaugh and the SAVE committee begin to take it up again.

“We’re not communists,” Mr. Blaugh said. “Just environmentalists.”

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I think the magazines should be banned. The store owners who allow it don't maintain the displays and end up look disheveled and unwanted garbage damp and dirty falling all over the entryways and sidewalk . They are slippery. I saw ban them once and for all from being out in public only interior displays should be allowed.
By lursagirl (245), southampton on Jul 25, 17 11:05 PM
I used to work for one of those free magazine, back in the early days before they were these glossy showpieces. They have multiplied like rabbits since then, and most of them are the dullest pieces of pulp ever run through a press. Basically ads for houses almost none of us could ever afford, and from what I can tell the folks that can afford them already own one- they are just fulsome self-congratulatory reminders that we're surrounded by the 1%. Banning them won't work, it's part of the culture ...more
By Funbeer (273), Southampton on Jul 26, 17 1:08 AM
What about those small yellow phone books left out in the streets abandoned, water soaked and always ignored? Many of us don't ask for them, we certainly don't want them, it's a waste of paper! Everyone goes online to find something, or get an address. For those that are not tech savy, should pick up a copy at their local post office. Please no more phone books!
By mary mattingly (1), new york on Jul 26, 17 8:29 AM
Pass another law banning them outside of buildings. Racks indoors only, with owners responsible for them.
They are a real eye sore. Fines, enforced would take care of the problem...
By knitter (1940), Southampton on Jul 26, 17 2:34 PM