Battle over ownership of secluded Hamptons beach headed to trial

EAST HAMPTON (WABC) -- A battle is raging over who has the power to determine access to a secluded beach on the South Shore of Long Island.

People who live near Napeague Beach in East Hampton say they've had enough of the loud music, speeding SUVs and public urination on the small strip of sandy beach.

"The extreme number of cars that use the beach make it very difficult for our children and grandchildren to access the shoreline without having to traverse a very scary highway of moving trucks," East Hampton resident Cindi Crain said.

Napeague Beach can only be accessed by car, but you can't make the rules unless you own the beach.

And therein lies the issue.

"The beach has actually been privately owned since the 1800s," Crain said. "We just happen to be the first group to exercise our property rights over a matter we find extremely egregious, unsafe and unsanitary."

Residents have been involved in a legal battle with the town for years, saying that they own the rights to the beach. The town, of course, disagrees, saying it is a public beach, and they intend to have it stay that way. A trial is set for June.

"Generations of families historically have gone to this location on the beach and gathered there," Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said. "Public access to the beach is an important part of our economy, not just for locals that use it, but for everyone else who uses it."

Tim Taylor, of Citizens for Access Rights, is leading the fight to make sure Napeague Beach stays the way it is -- a beach for everyone.

"The people who go here, who frequent this beach, respect the beach," he said. "They are locals. They're teachers, EMS personnel, firemen. They respect the community and the beach...the homeowners can still use the beach, they just have to use it and share with everybody else who has been using it this way for decades."

Soon, a judge may decide.
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