Friday, June 24, 2005

Greenwich Decides to Obey the Court; Town Officials Also Give In to Demands for Public Access to Sound for Dogs. Will Proof of Pedigree be Required?

After talking in foolishly defiant tones, Greenwich officials have decided that it's probably wise to obey the state Supreme Court and comply with an order to release public information -- namely geographic information system data -- to the public. Before they release the data to the man who sued and won, they'll need to adopt a procedure and decide on fees.

The fellow who sued, Stephen Whitaker, is skeptical. Here's how the Greenwich Time quoted him:

"I'll believe it when I see it," he said. "I can't guess what kind of tricks they're going to pull. I've never seen them genuinely forthcoming."

He's got reason to be skeptical, in my opinion.

If the procedure Greenwich adopted after the court ordered them to open their beaches is a precedent, it will be enough of a pain in the neck to deter all but the most determined.

Several years ago a Stamford resident sued Greenwich because they wouldn't let him past the sentry at Greenwich Point Park. The court said sorry, Greenwich, Long Island Sound belongs to all the people and you can't deny access to out-of-towners. So now if you live out of town and want to go to Greenwich Point you can pay your way in -- $10 a person (5 or older) and $20 for parking.

That's $70 for a day at the beach for a family of five. The real pain comes when you drive up to the sentry on your first visit. You can't just pay to get in. You have to go to Town Hall, a good 20 minutes away in downtown Greenwich, to get your single-visit tickets.

A few days ago, a worker at Greenwich Point asked a handful of women to leave as they were preparing for an exercise class. One woman was the wife of Bobby Bonilla, another the wife of George Forster, both of whom used to play for the Mets. When I first read it I thought the worker was probably a Mets fan who remembered how bad Bonilla and Forster were when they played here and still held a grudge, but the women claimed they were told to leave because workers at the beach assume that if you're black or dark-skinned (Bonilla is from Puerto Rico, Forster is African-American), you don't live in Greenwich.

There is good news from Greenwich though. Town officials yesterday approved a new dog park, with a view of the Sound. The rumor is that to be admitted all dogs must have proof of pedigree and that no exceptions will be made for mutts and mixed-breeds.


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