Hardy Plumbing
April 20, 2011

Beach Privatization Suit Postponed

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A move by oceanside property owners in Napeague to claim the beach has been postponed at the request of the East Hampton Town Trustees' attorney.

There are actually two suits, one filed by White Sands Motel Holding company and another, Seaview et al, a group of property owners on the stretch. Both are up for summary judgment on May 6.

The plaintiffs contend the beach in question was sold by the trustees to Arthur Benson in 1882, and their deeds carry down from that sale.

Though the trustees' role in the town has been romanticized over the years, a review of their journals and minutes clearly reveal the trustees weren't in the business of preserving the rights of citizens to enjoy the beaches at all. In fact, the trustees -- in the mid to late 1800s, at least -- were looking to sell off large chunks of real estate and the accompanying beaches for cold, hard cash.

If State Supreme Court Judge Melvyn Tanenbaum grants summary judgment, he will decide the 1882 deed is valid. He then must decide what role the town itself plays in the drama that is unfolding. The town, after all, issues permits for residents to drive on the beach -- even though it may have no legal authority to do so.

If the decisions goes their way "We'd ask for an injunction" said the plaintiff's attorney, Stephen Angel of Esseks, Hefter, and Angel, that would for the moment at least put an end to the unfettered access to the 4000 foot long swath of beach favored by truck owners. The beach has long been a local hangout, and the property owners complain the numbers have swelled over the years, claiming as many as 300 trucks sometimes parked on the beach.

The town is being represented by Town Attorney John Jilnicki; the trustees have hired Anthony Tohill as special counsel. There are several possible defenses for the town. The western boundary of the deed, Angel contends, is Napeague Lane, but it didn't exist at the time the deed was drawn. "It's kind of vague," said Jilnicki. "The boundaries aren't clearly delineated."

"It's not an issue," Angel countered. "That's been the line of ownership for years."

There is also the fact the public has used the beach for over a century, unimpeded. "There is no adverse possession," Angel surmised. "You have to fence it. It has to be hostile. The [adverse possession] claim doesn't work."

Jilnicki said "There were some restrictions on the part of the trustees as grantors," meaning they may not have had the legal authority to sell off the beach. There is also the matter of the right of fishermen to use the beach. Angel said in his argument "If the trustees wanted to reserve the right of way for vehicles they easily could have done so." But Jilnicki pointed out motorized vehicles hadn't been invented in 1882. "The trustees stated what was important to them at that time," he said. Angel said other trustees' deals at the time asked for the right to "pass and repass" and that verbiage was left out of the Benson contract.

Bernard Kiembock, the owner of White Sands, complains he has been threatened and physically intimidated simply because he wants people to keep the beach in front of his property clean. That story is reported elsewhere. There is also the matter of campaign contributions from a litigant to town officials. See the accompanying box for that story.

  1. print email
    April 20, 2011 | 01:53 PM

    No one who drives on the beach from Napeague Lane can access Kiembock's hotel without driving through the State owned portion of beach. That beach is only accessible with a NYS fishing permit. Check the map. And the state regulary patrols that beach so there's no issue people driving through State owned portion and "bothering" Bernie. So the question is, what is Kiembock's motive of this suit? Ownership of the beach in front of his property. Period. he should be ashamed of himself.

  2. print email
    April 21, 2011 | 10:06 PM

    Sounds like Mr. Angel needs to take a ride down to Napeague, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon in July to understand what this is all truly about. I would love to have the opportunity to drive him on, feed him and introduce him to all the families that are a community within themselves. Then while packing up every particle that we brought with us , he maybe would realize the only trash on the beach is what he is representing. Get ready folks- you think there is no parking spots now at the beaches?If this goes through, make room for "300" more cars. RIDICULOUS!

  3. print email
    Looks like a snake
    April 21, 2011 | 10:56 PM

    The double talk and greed of the palntiffs is reprehensible. Kiembock, Silverman and cronies should be run out of town. Boycott the Businesses behind the lawsuit.

    Bonac Pride
  4. print email
    Looks like a snake
    April 21, 2011 | 10:56 PM

    The double talk and greed of the palntiffs is reprehensible. Kiembock, Silverman and cronies should be run out of town. Boycott the Businesses behind the lawsuit.

    Bonac Pride
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