7960486096?profile=original

Signs that read ‘PRIVATE NO TRESPASSING’ flank both sides

of the town’s beach walkover at Old Ocean and Beachway Drive.

Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Dan Moffett

    Town commissioners are poised to make another attempt at striking the right balance in the wording used on Ocean Ridge’s public beach signs.
    At their Dec. 9 meeting, commissioners got an earful on all sides of the issue — from residents and each other.
    Property owners near the dune walkovers complained that “public access’’ signs attract too many out-of-town beachgoers to beaches with no facilities to support them.
    Residents who don’t live on the beach said homeowners who recently posted “no trespassing” signs on their properties beside the Beachway Drive walkover are misleading the public and deterring access.

    “The two signs that say ‘no trespassing,’ that is a red flag, a stop sign,” Elizabeth Ackerly told commissioners. “It says ‘I don’t belong there.’ And it’s not right.”
    Mayor Geoff Pugh said he recalled having similar debates as far back as 2006.
    “I don’t think the point is about stopping access to the beach,” Pugh said. “But do we need to advertise it with flashing lights and a sign?”
    “We’re not talking about inviting people and putting up glaring lights,” said Vice Mayor Lynn Allison. “We’re talking about putting up a small sign that says ‘public access.’ ”
    “This is a very complicated issue,” said Town Attorney Ken Spillias, who noted that Ocean Ridge has a 100-year history of public walkovers to its beach but technically has no legal obligation to post public access signs.
    He said the town can’t enforce trespassing violations on its own and must wait until someone complains. Spillias said even determining the high-water mark, where the private properties and public beaches converge, is complicated. It’s based on a 19-year average and “shifts over time.”
    Spillias said years ago, some townspeople wanted to post “Ocean Ridge Residents Only” signs. He quickly rejected that idea and spared the town a lawsuit.
    Resident Terry Brown said the town was overcomplicating the issue and making a “Keystone Cops fiasco” over what really is a simple matter: The public has a right to access the beach, period.
    “These two signs that say ‘no trespassing’ are totally misleading,” Brown said. “People will think that the beach is private, which it is not.”
    In October, town workers removed two signs at the Beachway Drive walkover that said “Private Beach” and resembled the town’s blue-and-white designs. Town manager Ken Schenck said he had talked about sign possibilities with residents who lived near the walkover, but had “no idea what they were going to do.” He said their signs were removed because they did not conform to code.

    Six other dune walkovers have “Public Beach Access” signs. The Beachway Drive crossing is the exception with a sign that lists town beach rules, but without reference to access.
    Steve Coz, who lives on nearby Osprey Court, said his neighborhood “bears the brunt” of the people who come across Woolbright Road bridge to the beach. 

    Coz said some Boynton Beach communities were listing the town’s beach as an amenity for their residents and encouraging its use.
    “They come there with vans, trucks, carfuls of people,” Coz said. “They expect facilities. We do not have facilities there. ‘Public access’ says Ocean Ridge is providing something it’s not providing.”
    He said that beachgoers have littered the dunes with toilet paper and condoms, but the traffic has decreased since the “no trespassing” signs went up.
    Commissioners decided to revisit the issue at their Jan. 6 meeting and told Spillias to research it further.


In other business:
    • The commission directed staff to proceed with the abandoning of the western right-of-way in front of the homes at 5516, 5514 and 5512 Old Ocean Blvd. The town has no source of water to maintain vegetation on the 100-foot strip of land. Property owners will take over the strip, handle the landscaping, maintain the right of way and pay the town expenses.
    • Commissioners approved the hiring of two new police officers, Frederick “Rick” Stang and Aaron Zawistowski. Stang has eight years’ experience in law enforcement in Arkansas, most recently with the Hot Springs Police Department. Zawistowski, a reserve officer, has nine years’ experience with the Indian River Sheriff’s Office and Seminole Tribal Police.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Activity Feed

The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Tuesday
The Coastal Star posted an event
Monday
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in HIGHLAND BEACH
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BEACH WATCH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in GULF STREAM
Jul 3
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion
Jul 3
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
Jul 3
More…