Old Field mayor Michael Levine addressed several residents' concerns at the board's meeting Tuesday night over a proposed resolution that would allow limited beach access for non-residents near Old Field Point.
The board discussed a proposed law that would allow for a maximum of 20 permits to be issued which would grant the permit holders the right to park their vehicles at Old Field Point and use the nearby village-owned walkway to access the beach.
One Old Field resident in attendance said that the law passed in October restricting access to village residents only had solved the problem of significant numbers of fishermen abusing the area and leaving garbage and other refuse behind. He questioned the need for a change that could mean a return to that situation.
Levine responded that the proposed law is an attempt to be fair to those who have fished at the site for years and do it responsibly.
He said the resolution is modeled after a similar one in place for Crane Neck Beach, where local residents sponsor 20 permit holders who are allowed access in exchange for a $100 fee and participation in a yearly beach cleanup.
Other concerns raised by residents at the meeting were the intrusions on their privacy by fishermen who line up at the waterfront behind their houses and the lack of an adequate parking area at the Point, where they said visitors often park on the grass. There was also the complaint that the wording of the resolution's first draft was too broad concerning permits.
Village attorney Anthony Guardino said the wording was purposely left vague to allow for future amendments to it without having to pass new resolutions. He noted the possibility of raising the fee or reducing the number of permits issued as examples.
The hearing on the proposed law was adjourned until next month's board meeting.
The village has collected more than $2,000 in fines for violations of the resolution passed in October restricting nighttime beach access over the lighthouse grounds at Old Field Point, according to village treasurer Andrea Brosnan.
That law was passed in response to complaints by local residents about activity including bonfires, littering, urinating and large groups of non-residents being dropped off at the site at all hours to gain access to the beach.
Residents of Old Field and the surrounding area, many of them fishermen, packed the board's October meeting to debate the issue. Levine and the board agreed at the time to consider some future solution that would accomodate those who fish at the site responsibly.
The beachfront below the high water mark is public property, while the adjacent grounds which allow access to it are either private or village-owned.