Dear Napeague Beach Homeowners Who Think You Own the Ocean


Dear Napeague Beach Homeowners,

Congratulations on being rich and successful. You most likely deserve what you have, attaining it through your hard work or proper marrying. Part of your success has allowed you to own one of the finest homes in one of the finest areas in the world—the Hamptons. More specifically, your beautiful home at Napeague Beach in Amagansett.

Now, let me explain something to you. Part of the deal when buying or renting a home in the Hamptons is access to the beaches. This is also true if you simply visit the area. Tourists from all over the world come to the Hamptons and enjoy the beaches, and it does not matter which beach they decide to spend their time on. They can visit them all.

Or can they? Last Monday, a New York State Supreme Court justice said no to you, the Napeague homeowners, in your request for a summary judgement against East Hampton Town over beach ownership and will be moved to trial. The lawsuit, brought by a group of oceanfront homeowners in 2009, is the larger of two legal actions contesting the town’s ownership of the beach. Essentially, some of you, a small group of homeowners, believe you have the right to say who you think should be allowed on the beach and want the power to deny access to certain people.

You see, here in the Hamptons, thanks to the work of Town Trustees stretching back to the 1600s, beaches belong to everybody. That’s why you can park at one beach, and, if you are in the mood, walk or run down to any other. By law, nobody can tell you that you can’t be at a certain beach.

This is also true for 4-wheel drive vehicles, if you have the proper permits. One thing that has been going on at Napeague on approximately 4,000 feet of sand is trucks parking on the beach to enjoy a day with family or friends. The only people on the planet that this seems to bother is a very small group who have money and live nearby.

I hate to tell you this, but you are simply grossly exaggerating when you say this is “a big problem.” It is not a problem. In fact it is quite wonderful. I’ve seen these people you have such an issue with (and, frankly, there are not even that many of them). I suspect, that at this point, your problem has more to do with spite than anything else.

Isn’t it nice to live in a place where people can enjoy nature together with their friends and families? Isn’t it nice to know that freedom is still going strong, no matter how hard certain people may want to take it away? Maybe you don’t agree.

Why people going to the beach bothers you so much is kind of mind boggling, but I digress. Take issue with whomever and whatever you wish. This is America, after all. But one thing I will tell you, as a friend giving friendly advice, is to consider this: What do you really expect to accomplish?

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you win the lawsuit, and get what you want—nobody at the beach except for people who you say deserve to be there. Do you honestly think that this will solve your “problem?” Do you honestly think that fishermen, surfers and locals whose family names date back hundreds of years in the Hamptons are going to roll over and say, “Okay, no problem, we won’t go there anymore since these privileged few told us we couldn’t.”

Or do you think that it will only exacerbate your problem?

I know for a fact that not all of you who live down at Napeague and own a home on the beach are in favor of this lawsuit. Some of you think it is ridiculous. The reason I know that is because I’m friends with a few of you.

Consider losing this attitude. Besides, if you continue to want a beach that nobody else is allowed to be on but yourself, maybe you could buy a private island in the Bahamas. I’m sure you can afford it.


David Rattiner

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