Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Going to the Beach at Greenwich Point Park? Don't Expect a Warm Welcome

"They don't really want you here," she said, kindly.

With those words a clerk at the Old Greenwich Civic Center summed up the attitude of Greenwich officials, and probably a lot of residents too, toward out-of-towners who have the audacity to want to use Greenwich’s Long Island Sound beaches.

Rick Green, a columnist for the Hartford Courant, decided to follow in the bike tracks of Greenwich’s royal-pain-in-chief (aka Paul Kempner, of Stamford) and ride his bicycle into Greenwich Point Park. His plan was to pedaL past the entrance booth without paying the $10 daily fee, as Kempner has made a point of doing in protest. But when he got to the booth, he chickened out – which was smart. My recollection of working for a newspaper is that editors do not love it when you tangle with the law. But it was smart for another reason too. When Green tried to pay, the booth attendant declined to take his sawbuck.

"You have to go to the civic center, in town," she said. That's a couple of miles back into Old Greenwich to an obscure building where they sell the one-day access passes. How convenient.

His column, published today, continues:

I rode back into town and eventually found the "civic center." A young clerk explained reality to me.

"They used to not let you in if you didn't live here. But then they got sued," she said as I forked over $10 for a small red ticket. No charge for the bike, she said, but it will cost another $20 for a car.

"They don't really want you here," she said, kindly.

Just as Green followed Kempner, Kempner is following Brenden Leydon, the Stamford resident whose lawsuit forced the town to let outsiders in (albeit for a fee paid at an inconvenient location). Kempner has gone to court to get the entrance fee for bicyclists and pedestrians abolished.


Blogger Tamara said...

I can't help but think of Hawai'i, where all beaches are public.

Some of the nicer resorts actually have a few parking spaces reserved for the general public in their lots, so anyone can enjoy the fantastic beaches that in many other parts of the world would be strictly off limits.

I have memories of driving through very pricey neighborhoods in Honolulu, and seeing beat up old cars parked by the side of the road, near the entrance to the right-of-way leading to the beach.

How ironic that Greenwich so furiously protects access to its mediocre beaches.

1:32 PM  
Blogger rad8love said...

Not so surprising to me - I grew up in Greenwich and have followed the lawsuit since I moved away. My father lived there until he died and he thought the outrage the lawsuit caused in the many of the residents was amazing, predictable and quite humorous. He wanted his ashes to be scattered at Tod's (Greenwich) Point.

I wonder how much they'll charge me to do that?

It is also ironic that many of the Greenwich beaches forbid swimming during the summer because the water is too polluted.

3:02 AM  
Blogger jjeff said...

Its funny that this seems - on the surface - to be a class issue, with the rich, snobby people of Greenwich trying to keep-out anyone without the wealth to live in Greenwich. But it is not. Greenwich is also predominatly a blue collar town and those folks - rich and middle class - are simply trying to keep the beaches for themselves. Interesting...

1:12 PM  

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