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Keeping the ‘creep’ off the beach

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The Town Board at its work session Tuesday. From left, Councilman Paul shepherd, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Councilman Jim Colligan and Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams. Not shown, Councilwoman Chris Lewis.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO  |  The Town Board at its work session Tuesday. From left, Councilman Paul Shepherd, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Councilman Jim Colligan and Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams. Not shown, Councilwoman Chris Lewis.

At its Tuesday work session the Town Board discussed the “creep factor” at Crescent Beach now that summer is in full swing.

It’s not what you’re thinking.

The board took up the topic aired last week of regulating businesses operating at the beach and possibly on other town-owned properties. The creep factor, voiced last week and Tuesday by board members, refers to worries over a proliferation of commercial ventures if the board doesn’t require entrepreneurs to come before the board for permission.

The consensus is there are three businesses presently operating at Crescent Beach, a paddleboard rental, a massage tent and a boat service transporting people from large yachts to the beach.

At least one member, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, stated clear opposition to regulations, and his colleagues voiced reservations.

One issue is the question of liability if someone is injured or worse at the beach while involved with one of the unregulated businesses and the town is sued. Councilman Paul Shepherd said he hadn’t seen any expansion of businesses at Crescent Beach, but that didn’t mean there would be in the future. He spoke of having some kind of “agreement” to give the board “leverage to say yea or nay” to people applying to operate on town-owned property.

“We can’t open this to the world,” Mr. Shepherd said.

Councilwoman Chris Lewis said that there were several massage businesses in town that are regulated. Mr. Shepherd said he had spoken to an Island masseuse who “didn’t see any competition,” but was considering “expanding” to the beach.

Councilman Jim Colligan said there were “legitimate concerns” about the businesses, including liability to the town. Also, he said answering the question —“Who owns the beach?” — is important.

Two years ago the board discussed the same issue and went reviewed draft legislation prepared by Town Attorney Laury Dowd. It included an application that businesses would need to file with the town to obtain permission. At the time Mr. Shepherd noted that it’s impossible to create regulations that would deal with “every eventuality, and he and his colleagues dropped the matter.

The board decided to look at the draft legislation from two years ago for further discussion next week.

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