Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Public Access in New Rochelle, Milford, Even Greenwich -- But in Clinton, Don't Even Bother Studying the Possibility

Good news out of New Rochelle, where efforts to turn Davids Island into a public park are proceeding. I've been invited to go there tomorrow and will report back if anything interesting happens.

Milford, Connecticut, just got a state grant to open a small part of its 17-mile shoreline to the public. And there's even a place in Greenwich where out-of-towners can get to Long Island Sound (although granted it's not much more than a jetty at the end of a dead-end street).

But in Clinton homeowners have prevailed on officials to not even study increasing public access to a local beach. Truth is, although the Clinton residents who don't want their privileges impinged on might not admit it, public access does not have to equal large crowds. It's relatively simple: just limit the amount of parking. That's how it's done, without controversy, at plenty of parks and preserves, both inland and on the shore.

5 Comments:

Blogger sandy said...

I think part of the problem is a lot of the shoreside cottages have been rebuilt into mini-multi-family hotels. The new ones have atleast 6 rental units. All built on property that was meant for a simple cottage. If the beach is open to the, gulp, public, why would anyone want to pay $1200 + to stay on a beach front rental?

11:24 AM  
Blogger Tom Andersen said...

We'll be going to Block Island in a couple of weeks. The entire shoreline is open to the public and it doesn't seem to bother anyone -- and rents there are a lot more than $1200.

12:30 PM  
Blogger sandy said...

I'm a cheap date!

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but your comment about Block Island makes it appear that you do not understand the situation in Clinton.

First, let's clarify what really happened. What the residents of Clinton Beach stopped was a portion of a revision to the town's Coastal Plan that suggested doing a study of public access along Shore Road. The town may well proceed with the study in any case, but at least the suggestion is not in the plan where it may live on in black and white for twenty years (that's how long it's been since the last revision).

I also question your understanding of the situation because of your reference to Block Island. In CT, the whole shoreline below the high water mark is public, held in trust by the State of CT. This sounds exactly like the situation in BI. I have been to Block Island and I have seen plenty of signs saying essentially "Private - Keep Out". I do not believe you are allowed to cross peoples yards to get to the coast; you need to go to designated access points. Again, this is the situation in CT.

The study in Clinton to which you refer would have resulted in the possibility of granting the public the right to traverse PRIVATE property in order to access the public portion of the shore. The equivalent in your neighborhood would be if your town said that the public no longer had just the use of the road and the sidewalks. Rather, they could cross through your yards if they stayed within 5 feet of the property boundary line. Yes, the residents of Clinton Beach let officials know that they object to this idea. They have issues concerning litter, vandalism, sanitation, trespassing, and parking that would be apparent if the officials would only just come and see for themselves. No study needed; it's blatantly obvious.

Public access points already exist in Clinton. The Clinton Town Beach is public, one of a few locations in town where the public already has access to the coast. The residents of Clinton Beach (similar name, alas, but totally different area) did bring up this point in the hearings noting that the town locations need better identification.

5:38 PM  
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