Originally published in the
North Shore Sun, June 19, 2009
Get Your Tackle Box Ready, Fishing's
Compromise made, ban now lifted
By Peggy Spellman Hoey | Staff Writer
Fishing line will soon be back in the Sound over at
Town officials have reached a compromise on the issue
of fishing at Shoreham Beach, a town-maintained beach
that was closed to fishermen and boaters last year when
a gate was installed at the front entrance following
complaints by residents about trespassing.
The beach, which is next to the former Shoreham nuclear
power plant, is accessible to the public by an access
road located off North Country Road. Numerous complains
concerning the use of all-terrain vehicles, vagrancy,
littering and trespassing into back yards have been
lodged with Suffolk police, increasing in direct relation
to the arrival of the summer crowd at Shoreham Beach.
This caused officials last year to install a security
gate and cameras to deter vehicles from entering the
property after lifeguards close up for the night, as
well as bilingual "no fishing" signs. This raised the
ire of members of several fishing advocacy organizations,
who argued that their rights to walk below the mean
high-water mark were violated, giving way to a series
of debates on message boards and a petition to restore
access to the site. According to town officials, fishing
and boating have never been allowed at the site, although
the rule was never enforced.
Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, who recently met to
discuss beach access issues with the New York State
Coalition for Recrreational Fishing--the state's largest
lobbying group that looks after the rights of recreational
fishermen and their issues concerning access--residents,
the Long Island Power Authority and National Grid, said
officials will allow fishing at the beach by the use
of a fishing access sticker. The stickers will be free
and will be provided by the seasonal workers at the
booth with proof of identification. Nonresidents who
use the parking lot will be charged a $20 fee for parking,
and nonresident walk-ons to the beach will have to pay
a $10 fee.
The beach has also been added to the list of beaches
that are covered by the night-fishing permit; however,
nonresidents are not eligible, the supervisor said.
Officials have also extended the hours of operation,
previously 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., to 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. There
will be two seasonal employees on duty per day at the
beach, and there will also be expanded enforcement efforts
by park rangers and code enforcement.
Mr. Lesko commended everyone for coming to the table
and arriving at a solution.
"All of this is to address the unique situation at Shoreham
Beach, which was a serious issue for residents who live
near the beach and also law enforcement," Mr. Lesko
said. "This is specific to this beach," he added.
Coalition President William Young said members of the
delegation, who met with Mr. Lesko, requested that both
day and night fishing be restored to the area, and suggested
the use of a card key reader, offering to help with
its costs, so that the town could keep track of who
was using the facility.
The coalition also requested a fishing advisory committee
to discuss beach access issues across the township and
especially on the North Shore, which has very few public
access points between Mount Sinai and Wading River.
Many of the public access roads, where fishermen used
to park, have been whittled away over the years, dedicated
to beach property owners' associations, he said.
Mr. Young said he was pleased with the agreement, but
noted there are still other issues with fishing throughout
"It's a general good-for-now agreement," he said.
Mr. Lesko said town officials will consider creation
of a fishing advisory committee to address the issue
of parking at other fishing areas throughout the town
and whether or not nonresidents should be included in
the night fishing permit.
The advisory committee would have to be set up by resolution
of the Town Board, he said.
Second District Councilwoman Jane Bonner, who said officials
have met extensively with all the stakeholders on the
issue, said she was glad to see a resolution that would
solve both the access issue and accountablity.
"I'm gratified," she said.