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Letter: Public Problems at Private Beaches in Rocky Point

One Rocky Point resident is concerned for the safety of her and her parents as beachfront homeowners.

Letter to the Editor: The following is an original letter sent to Patch by Rebecca Kirchner of Rocky Point.

As beachfront homeowners, a repetitive problem we encounter is a constant confrontation between 'public' on the "private beach’ and the issue of "Deeded Property/Beach Rights", and the rights of beachfront homeowners. As beachfront homeowners, we are out of our minds with the issue. I believe that the technical term is Reparation Rights. This means something to the affect of ‘it is in the property deed that we own our beachfront properties with exclusive access above the high tide mark; our deeds include a portion of beach’. I know this has been an ongoing challenge for some in the Hamptons too; but we don’t compare financially in our ability to fight the issues or draw attention to the problems. This is local Rocky Point and it needs some attention too.

I’ll clarify by referring to my family’s beachfront properties in Rocky Point (where I grew up). To elaborate; we live on a bluff overlooking the water with private stairs in our backyard. On a regular basis we have many fishermen in the back yard.... bon fires at night.... people changing their babies and leaving the diapers.... people using the cliff and beach as a rest room, children climbing the dunes, and MORE. What you don't see in my summer photo albums are the dozens of pictures I have taken of the trash and problems, including but not limited to FISH HOOKS and line, cans/bottles/solo cups, dirty diapers, food products, clothing (including underwear), used needles, and much, much more. It's absolutely disgusting!

I am specifically referring to Culross Beach which is the beach west of Hallock Landing. The end of Hallock Landing Road is a WATER RUN OFF with signs stating many things including NO SWIMMING and no lifeguard on duty. Culross Beach/Culross Drive is a private corporation with homeowners required to pay dues which include (but are not limited to) usage of Culross Beach and maintenance/insurance of the Culross common areas and seasonal road maintenance.

To the East of Hallock is the North Shore Beach Association - where there is a life guard, a tag-checker, and a public restroom; people pay dues there also. To the west of Hallock where Culross begins is a fence on the beach with signs that state "PRIVATE PROPERTY...etc". Once you have trespassed passed the private fence, the bulkheads along Culross also have further signage. The North Shore Beach Association is only different in that they pay a guard daily and a majority of those who belong to their association belong for the sole purpose of using the access steps – most of the Culross beach residents have built private stairs in their backyard and invest yearly to maintain them as well as the integrity of the cliff. Meanwhile, some people do not CARE to keep their kids from playing on the dunes - which contributes to the landslides and erosion.

When the public is on ‘our’ beach, the attitude of people we run into is one of entitlement as well as danger; they feel entitled to use the private beaches since they live here on Long Island. Many do not even live in Rocky Point when we ask them. We hear things like “we pay taxes too” or “we just wanted to be on a private beach”. A neighbor was hit in the head with a beer bottle by a drunkard when she politely asked them to vacate HER bulkhead (yes the police were called). We are constantly on the receiving end of threats such as “We’ll burn your house down,” “We’ll use your beach whenever we want and you won’t stop us” and “We’ll shoot your dog”. Our dog does have pellets in him and we’ve even found seagulls that have been shot. Yes, all of this right here in Rocky Point…so sad that life has changed this much.

My opposing view is that my family owns specific property and have worked their butts off to have a waterfront home(s). They also invest their own hard earned money to maintain the cliff from sliding. They pay taxes as well (high taxes). If people want to have the attitude of entitlement, then they should buy a waterfront home and MAINTAIN the cliff, which is not an easy task, nor is it cheap! I resent the people who come here with the attitude that WE are snobs and have no right to ask them to leave, especially when we want to use our beach in our backyard(s)..... And we do not want to be threatened or be in danger while being on our own property.

Now imagine it’s a beautiful day and you decide to take your kids into your backyard and swim... but in your backyard are five men fishing who by law are not supposed to fish where there are bathers but they do so anyway. Now you are left with two choices; ask them politely to move, or you do not use the beach. Next thing, your child steps on a fishing hook and your dog slices his paw on a piece of glass. Then next thing you know, your dog (who is leashed) is attacked by a non-leashed dog (Town of Brookhaven has a leash law) - and all of this occurs on YOUR property. So you call the police; the police do not want to be bothered, can't get there timely, and if you even mention that there is a bon-fire, 911 dispatch passes off the responsibility and sends the fire dept which makes it even worse. Yes this happens frequently. I know the PD does not like this type of call. I know the FD resents it as well. The police don't care; the fire department is not needed. Both agencies have been condescending (a whole other topic I could address with documented calls to 911).

We have not enjoyed one day at our beach, in our backyard, incident free. The fishermen bring their families on many occasions and by night there are easily 5-12 people in our backyard…using our cliff as their toilet etc and leaving their trash. We’ve had people even climb up our cliff, sit on our stair case, get drunk and ENTER our house, and rip down trees and wood from our yard for bon fires.

My parents are now seniors. My dad is a veteran, my mother is retired. They have grown to have little patience when this happens on a daily basis. The shrewd and crass people know that they can go below the high tide line. My father reacts...and it breaks my heart to watch. They are scared the cliff will burn down when one of these embers hits the dried bamboo - and rightfully so. There is no insurance to cover such damage and while they have everything to lose, the person on the beach could care less and has nothing to lose.

Recent, more serious confrontations between homeowners and the public were about bon-fires. During the recent time of the dry weather and the Manorville fires, we had people on the beach making bon fires up close to the bulkheads, with embers going into the cliffs. This is COMMON. In many cases, they are consuming alcohol and smoking pot and  will eventually cause a fire.

My family is in a minority (coastal homeowners) and is sometimes viewed as "being privileged" or snobs or whatever. But they are not. They are just very hard working people who grew up here and chose these homes. It just kills me to watch my parents struggle with something some feel is so trite - but their home is their entire life and this beach thing is a daily issue in the summer.

This is the one thing I find myself reacting to in Rocky Point. Rocky Point is beautiful and living on the water is the epitome of a Long Island lifestyle. It kills me that my parents have NO HELP and have to deal with this stuff in today's economy where there are more pressing issues in life. But this is in our backyard - literally. Why do those who do not live here have to be so injurious?

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca Kirchner

Tony G. August 19, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Joe you are right, I do not know how you conduct yourself but yet you seem to know about my eyesight! You seem confused about the definition of the mean high tide mark and the high tide mark. The community organizations that pay the taxes on these properties have a legal right to limit access to the beach otherwise why pay taxes to the town you once served? your logic is flawed and in my opinion you do not consider the rights or concerns of others. Your attitude is self serving, an attitude shared by too many others and affecting the quality of life in this communitty. So continue to save your $300 because you say its not necessary, someone else will pay so the taxes and maintenece can be paid to provide jobs for people like you who are legal officals for the town. Which explains your sense of entitlement given the history of this town!
Naughty Paws August 19, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Any fence facing North and South is definitely not a beach association. I'm not even sure what a fence running parallel to the shore would accomplish. Maybe to protect people from the drainage? Who knows.
Joe August 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Tony this is not a back and fourth match.. I have more respect for others than you would ever know.. And in addition to that its about the how you just said it yourself... The community organizations that pay the taxes on these properties have a legal right to limit access to the beach... That maybe true but they do not have the right to harass people who gain access through a public access and are below the high tide mark... Thats all that this is about... And I have said that in every post I commented on.. With that being said I believe I had said my peace and this is my last post because their is more improtant things in life than to worry about.. So Tony with all due respect I do value your oppion and see you care about this just as strongly as I do.. Its not only a NSBO issue its a community issue and a personal issue.. But we all have families here and will do everything to protect the little bit of qaulity of life we are slowly losing through many issues... So good luck to you and all who wish to enjoy what little we have left... because we all are losing
Dballard August 20, 2012 at 03:12 AM
I think its fair they have worked hard for the property that they OWN if you have a problem work hard and buy your OWN property.....how DARE those people, how can they have the AUDCITY to trespass, threaten, and physically harm a pet, person, etc. HOW CAN PEOPLE overlook the reasons for wanting laws against people being on her private property that she pays for and maintains. If you had your own you would want the same.....If you can't afford it write your local politicians
BZ August 20, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Alky I think it might be time for you to go back to Europe, that's where your heart is.
Alky Styles August 20, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I don't see ANY of the Dune Fencing or Signs that you're talking about.....from Friendship Beach to Broadway Beach to Beech Beach & as far as the eye can see, there is NO DEC Approved Dune Fencing Preventing People & Children from walking straight up the bluffs....a simple, inexpensive solution to most of these concerns.
Alky Styles August 20, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Not for nothing, but Ryan was a phenomenal security & groundskeeper for the North Shore Beaches....it wasn't only a job, but his passion to patrol miles of beach with his quad and enforce rules & educate in a friendly manner. He always handed out garbage bags to people. I'm not sure why he was let go, but people like him kept things in check & now we have NONE of that.
Alky Styles August 20, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Hey BZ, maybe you should go back to school if that's where your brain is. What's the matter? You can't comprehend a little comparison of culture's without pounding your chest and telling people to leave your country? Ya fucknut!
BZ August 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Sometimes the DEC will help with the cost of the eroding bluff. They give discounts for vegetation that will help bind the bluff when planted. People need to respect others, and not destroy public/private property. I hate to admit it, but Jersey does a good job with their coast line. They probably make a bunch of money for the local economy also. NSBPO might take example and change the way they operate so they could make money, not worry about how they can come up with the money to operate.
Alky Styles August 20, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Now, wouldn't it be ignorant of me to say "Durrr BZ, I think it might be time for you to move to Jersey if that's where your heart is."....ummm, yea.
BZ August 20, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Alky, you seem to be jealous of the people who have the beach front property (which i am not one of). You have just showed all the readers of the patch where your level of education is at.
Alky Styles August 20, 2012 at 02:15 PM
I don't see your point....I'm jealous & ignorant for mocking your ignorant comments?...brilliant!
mmcc August 20, 2012 at 03:43 PM
But if you have a 10 year old then wouldn't you need 2 tags, one for him and one for you?
Jenn Jorgensen August 20, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I agree Joe. And when you try to pay your dues, which I did, I was told a man would either come to my house, or I could go to his to pay the dues...To me, this is unprofessional. I'm not handing over $275 dollars to a man, in a house. And I am not having a stranger come to mine.
Alky Styles August 20, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I have always purchased my Tags & Key at Albo Realty on 25A.
Jenn Jorgensen August 20, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Ted, why is it jealousy...what Rebecca reports is bad behavior. I am not a member of the beach club, yet I would never do the things she speaks of. Most of us wouldn't participate in such a behavior. The fees do not allow you to do what you want. So, to say it's about people with little funds being jealous of people with big funds(if that is what you think), your wrong. It's about bad behavior, which no beach membership allows.
Tony G. August 20, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Most of the private beach organizations on the north shore are run by volunteers. People who donate their time and talents to make sure that the beach is maintained, taxes paid, and yes membership is overseen. I suggest if you have problems with the organization ask how you can help to remedy the probl;em you have. I am sure they will be more than happy to have additional help in performing the necessary tasks that are required to make sure that the beach does not fall into disrepair.
Rebecca Kirchner August 20, 2012 at 07:41 PM
(characters limited so breaking up my response to you here): Thank you. Many of the comments here have just been personal stabs at me (keep in mind that unlike SOME here, I have SIGNED my name and identified myself – unlike some hiding behind the internet). I clearly could have sent in an anonymous letter…. A few here make valid POINTS that I just have not had time to respond to nor want to get attacked further, as this response will get attacked already. The issues I bring to light are not one of opinion, but rather of law. Yes, these beachfront homeowners do have deeded rights, as my letter states. It doesn’t need to be proven or shown to “John Q. Public” but the police do need to enforce the laws… which they do in the way they feel works for them; in some cases SOME are ticketed or even arrested, but in some cases, the police would rather just give a person a chance to leave….. in ALL cases, those breaking laws and trespassing have indeed been TRUMPED by the law. But if you think a cop is going to clean up the mess they leave – nope. My family will though and ALWAYS does. Yes, some do have an opinion that the beaches of LI should be accessible to all; but that’s not at all what my letter is about. (con't....)
Rebecca Kirchner August 20, 2012 at 07:41 PM
(con't) Yes, there are some who NEVER abuse the beach and don’t break laws and those people have NEVER been asked by my family to leave the beach. If we arrive through our backyard, the law abiding people will GLADLY move down the beach a knowing it’s a shared place for THEM….regardless of whether they know the law or not. We have INVITED strangers to return or even to visit because they cause no problems and therefore there is no issue (other than arrogance –which is not what this is about). A woman in Sound Beach recently had her home condemned because it was falling off the cliff due to terrible erosion (this was in the news). I can’t tell you how sad I felt for her; she was a senior who lived there for a long time and did not have the money (minimum of $100,000) to shift her home back and there is no insurance for such damage (caused in many cases by erosion). The DEC and the EPA do NOT allow these homeowners to rebuild the sand and the costs of a new bulkhead are astronomical and require permits that the DEC & EPA fight. Those who live in the Hamptons are always fighting the DEC & EPA and have had success in many cases due to the finances to fight them. Here in Rocky Point, it’s a BATTLE to get the DEC to put up a fence to keep people from climbing the dunes. (still con't....)
Rebecca Kirchner August 20, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Growing up here, we learned about and cared about preservation, litter, and erosion. If we fished, we threw back Sea Robins and didn’t leave them to suffer, smell, and rot….we pushed the Horseshoe Crabs back into the water (and looked for their tags) instead of grabbing them by their tails and torturing them by stepping on them! We did NOT have an attitude of entitlement. It's very different here today and I can see by the response who really is interested in my response versus which one of you have been asked to leave and still want to voice your opinion here after the cops have asked you not to return, regardless of what name you hide behind. Also, someone mentioned California; specifically PCH. I traveled PCH much of my life and the ‘public’ beaches are town beaches with town garbage cans that are maintained. If you are somewhere along the coast of Ventura county (Malibu or Santa Barbara for example), some people experience the same exact problems as we do here… Deeded property rights could be different there, but I’m referring to New York in my letter. And in conclusion to your comment, 20 years ago there was a death at Hallock. And there was a change over the next 10 years…. (con't.....)
Rebecca Kirchner August 20, 2012 at 07:43 PM
My comments are out of order, so read them from bottom up; due to limit of characters). This is the end of the comment I was making (not the beginning): And it was GREAT. COPE was put into force and there was a 6th precinct concentration on the Hallock Water Runoff. It’s all gone though…. Paying taxes out the butts for some to make exorbitant salaries in Suffolk but then Suffolk cuts the police patrols. Trust me; this is NOT what I want to waste the police’s time with or volunteer firefighters. But I’m backed into a corner to do that each time some little twit wants to get in my face when they’re breaking the law (or hit my neighbor in the head with a bottle, or shoot the dog, or light the cliff on fire with their ashes along the wooden bulkhead, or is stroking themselves in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Thanks finally to those who want to address the law and issues rather than toss my name around. (comment over now)
Justin Time August 20, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Blah, blah, blah..Look nothing will ever be done to change things..get used to the dirtbsgs that dump their garbage. Enjoy what you have and do the best you can in this imperfect world!
Rebecca Kirchner August 20, 2012 at 08:01 PM
thank you!!! Incidentally, I did not post the picture of the fisherman with this blog. I AM a minority myself and would never blame another minority for a quality of life issue. Thanks for your intelligent comment. Please say hello if you or I ever figure out who each other are at the beach this summer.
Tony G. August 20, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Always nice to go down to the beach to find it littered by those who do not belong or care, yes rotted fish, beer cans, hooks, line, even rusted knives. not to mention the broken glass as it is always necessary to throw your bottle in the fire! Or the evidence of dog walkers who can't be bothered to pick up after their animals. Unfortunatley the residents have to clean up the mess and put up with the "I can be here" attitudes of the people who feel that they have a right to tresspass on private property! The Town beaches are maintained by the Town, that is why they cost money to operate and are supported through fee's and taxes. Our Private beaches are maintained by residents who are trying to enjoy what they purchased when they bought a home with Beach Rights. That is why it is necessary to collect membership fees, so that maintenace can be done. And also why it is frustrating to have the Joe's of the world take advantage and say it is not necessary to pay. Continue to harass those that trespass make them know they do not belong and are not welcome, if assaulted then it is a matter for the Police. Many HOA's have taken to hiring security to prevent non members from gaining access, an unfortunate reality but a small price to pay to protect your privacy, property and sanity!
Rebecca Kirchner August 21, 2012 at 12:19 PM
Bravo :)
Alicia Palifka August 27, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Rebecca Kirchner....I support what you say and stand by you. Sadly..we live in a pathetic entitlement society where what you worked for should be theirs mentality all in the name of fairness.I am sorry you and your family are going through this...Especially at this time in your parents lives where they should be able to enjoy the life they created without having to hand it off to bunch of inconsiderate entitled little demanding brats who are jealous of the hard work of others who worked to have what they have. Its the mentality of todays pathetic people who don't take pride in personal responsibility ..
Rebecca Kirchner August 27, 2012 at 09:45 PM
thank you for taking the time to comment
Marie G Lavin September 08, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I live about the same distance( 9 minutes) from the beach I am single, retired and on a fixed income,so I take a walk past the beach every day with my dogs, as it's only me, and say that's our beach but i can't afford the $275. to sit on it.
mmcc September 08, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Marie, Please check the NSBPOA website and consider if you are eligible for the "special senior citizen" membership which is $175 instead of the full rate of $275. It might be more accessible for you.
liz smith September 16, 2012 at 02:19 PM
well It looks like things haven't changed much since 1976 when I left Rocky Point to go out to Ohio for college .Back then I lived on Echo Road and had beach rights but even if you couldn't afford the HOA fees there were plenty of places to gain access.It's a shame to hear that people are trashing the beach and dunes. Rocky Point has always needed a public beach area. Too bad the local gov't hasn't done anything to allow this. When you are 15-16, Cedar Beach is too far a drive. Good luck everyone

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