To the Editor-
Taking action in the name of safety is usually a good thing, except when there’s a bit of “overreach” involved (“Border Crisis: Seaview ‘Safety Program’ Sparks Controversy Among its Fire Island Neighbors“, July 2). The Seaview Association seems to be doing just that.
Seaview is exercising dominion over its walkways, including issuing/requiring permits for passage, ostensibly due to the safety risk posed by golf carts being driven on the walks. According to Seaview Association President Tom Ruskin, the walkways are “owned, maintained and funded by the residents of Seaview,” and that’s undoubtedly true about the “road surface,” but it doesn’t give the town control over the right-of-way. The obvious analogy is to any town in America which has resurfaced their roads; they become much easier/nicer to ride on, but the town doesn’t acquire the right to restrict access as a result. In some cases, road improvements may be funded with tolls (which have monetary access requirements), but that may only be done through a vote of the legislature; needless to say, that’s not the case here. By ‘requiring’ that contractors purchase “permits” the Seaview Association may actually be levying an illegal toll, and opening themselves up to legal backlash (the article didn’t specify if a fee was required for these “permits”).
Unfortunately, Seaview is opening a can of worms with this action, and it will undoubtedly have unintended negative consequences. The Town of Seaview has greatly improved its playground over the years, and has restricted access to non-residents. If the playground is also on “public land” (or land which was privately owned, but has later been donated for public use), this current action (and challenges to it) may lead to a reappraisal of the town’s ability to keep the playground ‘exclusive.’
In the interim, I will happily/freely walk (or ride my bike) on Bay Walk when crossing Seaview to the restaurants of Ocean Beach. I will also happily ignore the Seaview-hired security guard who tries to encourage me off of my direct route, since he too, is bereft of official/legal authority.
Ocean Bay Park
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