Dan Rattiner's Stories

Celebration at Truck Beach: Judge Rules for Hamptons Locals

For generations, the local people of East Hampton Town have gone down to a particular ocean beach called Truck Beach for fishing, swimming, surfing, kite flying, picnicking, sunbathing, beach driving and all other manner of beach activities. The beach is a quarter-mile long, east of Amagansett and tucked away along a sand road which is really only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Over the years, some summer people built vacation homes at the back of the dunes there, with their driveways going out to the Montauk Highway. Not long ago, a group, as “Seaview at Amagansett” (meaning, I’d imagine, they didn’t want to look at the locals; they wanted to look at the sea), filed a lawsuit claiming, in essence, that they lived beachfront, their homes were beachfront and this was their beach. The locals there, it seems, were a nuisance and everybody has to get off.

The Town Trustees, who were the defendants, claimed that this beach had been set aside by King Charles III of England for the recreational use of town residents. He issued a decree declaring that in 1686. And the Town Trustees have defended this right since then.

But this past Friday, after the matter was taken up by the New York State Supreme Court, Judge Ralph T. Gazzillo rendered a 33-page decision following a five-day bench trial.

He ruled for the locals. He cited the “questionable, unimpressive and contradictory” testimony of the Plaintiff’s expert witnesses, and he cited the “credible, harmonious and persuasive” testimony of the locals.

Truck Beach should be renamed Celebration Beach.

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