The controversy that started in the spring of off-Island weekend visitors in large numbers, staying all day at the beach at Bootleggers Alley to fish and picnic, reached a milestone Friday, Sept. 11, when the Town Board took action by codifying parking restrictions.
There had been reports of 50 to 100 people on the beach at one time, especially during weekends, with some camping out and some using vegetation near the beach as toilets.
The town had installed two portable toilets in the area and outside hand sanitation stations. Also, signs were put up in Spanish and English calling for social distancing and staying on the part of the beach where it is legal to fish and congregate.
Residents brought their concerns to the Town Board about public safety and quality of life issues and the board acted in late May by designating parking on one side of the street as resident-only; part of the other side of the street near the boat ramp and fire lane off limits; and public parking only available farther along toward Nostrand Parkway.
In addition to restricting access, board members and residents noted that, at times, parked cars along the narrow road would prevent emergency vehicles access in case of emergencies.
Those rules for parking on Bootleggers Alley were instituted by executive order that the state granted municipalities during the pandemic. But the board sought to codify the rules by a voted resolution so that, in case the governor rescinds the emergency declaration, Supervisor Gerry Siller said the parking regulations will be intact.
Also in the works is defining access to public beaches and town landings and docks, which was sparked by the Bootleggers Alley controversy. Councilman Mike Bebon has drafted a detailed document, which looks like a piece of legislation in its scope and attention to specific issues, to allow the board to come to some resolution on public access to town beaches and landings.
Mr. Bebon’s document states that public safety and the health and security of residents and visitors is paramount, as well as the health of the environment. But the board agreed that in any law there should be the statement that residents “should have equal, or greater, opportunity to access particular areas,” compared to visitors.
“We don’t want residents crowded out,” Mr. Bebon said.
Exactly where public access begins and private property ends for beaches has been the subject of Town Board discussions. Most municipalities agree that the public has a right of access and to be on beaches below the median high-tide line.
The resolution on Bootleggers Alley parking, which was passed unanimously on Sept. 11, stipulates:
• There shall be no parking at any time on the Northwest side of Bootleggers Alley across from the end of Peconic Avenue running West (seaward) one hundred twenty (120) feet to the beachfront which shall be indicated with appropriate signage; and
• There shall be no parking within six (6) feet of any driveway or intersection on Bootlegger’s Alley; and
• All motor vehicles or motorcycles parking along the waterfront on Bootleggers Alley and on the southern side of Bootleggers Alley from the beachfront running East (landward) for four hundred fifty (450) feet to an unnamed street shall display a parking permit, which will be issued by the Town Clerk
• Said parking permit shall be displayed on the left rear bumper of a motor vehicle and the rear mudguard of a motorcycle
• There shall be no double parking anywhere on Bootleggers Alley; and
• The above restrictions shall apply at all times, 24 hours a day and seven days per week.
The board also unanimously passed another parking law on Sept.11. Any vehicle illegally parked on Shelter Island can be removed at the direction of any police officer. After its removal, the vehicle will be stored until the owner pays illegal parking fines and the expense having it removed and stored.