Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Greenwich Point

This is the epicenter of the coastal access debate. Permission to enter the 147-acre Greenwich Point has been an issue brought to the courts several times these past two decades. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here is a brief history.
In the 1990's, Stamford resident and law school student  Brenden Leydon was denied entry to Greenwich Point while jogging. The town maintained a policy that restricted entry to residents only. He filed suit in 1995, and the case made it's way to the State Supreme Court in 2001. The court ruled that Greenwich could not deny Mr Leydon access to a public space. Problem solved? Not so fast.
Greenwich opened their beach and park to nonresidents, but made sure to put in place a series of obstacles  for anyone who tried to visit. Fees for nonresidents were extremely high, plus a permit was required for entry. This nonresident permit could only be purchased at the town offices, which were miles away. Sure enough, the office was only open till 3:45 PM on weekdays, and closed on weekends. Take that,.. Supreme Court!
In 2005, 75 year old Paul Kempner rode his bike into Greenwich Point and was fined $92 for trespassing. He filed suit claiming that the fees charged for nonresidents were prohibitive. The town responded by lowering their fees, and allowing free entry for retirees. The permit requirement remains in effect.

Another case in 2005 involved three female residents of Greenwich who were excercising in the park.The black and Hispanic women (wives of former major league baseball players) were told that 3 people constituted a group, which requires a permit, and therefor they had to leave. Some incriminating emails from a town official later surfaced,  confirming the women's suspicions.
Greenwich has tried to portray themselves as a victim in this saga, but they have brought most of this bad publicity upon themselves.

From November 1 through April 30, Greenwich Point (aka Tod's Point) is open to all with no fees or residency permit required. The photos above show the south portion of the park between the lake and Bluff Point. A walkway curves along the shoreline, and is dotted with several wooden bridges that cross the tidal outlets of some nearby salt ponds.

Connecticut Post: Public Access Not Always Easy
New York Times: One Man's Crusade
New York Times: In Greenwich, Group Hugs Are Few
CT Coastal Access Guide: Greenwich Point Park
Sphere: Don't Expect A Warm Welcome


Jeannette StG said...

Glad that Greenwich Point is open to all -it is beautiful! It seems enough out of the way that hordes of people would start coming there...what were they thinking??

Robin Robinson said...

Wonderful color on those photos. I like the composition of the first one best, but they are lovely.

Unknown said...

Having lived in Texas before moving to this state, I had a lot of difficulty grasping the concept of a "private beach". The saga does continue and there will always be issues with it all for those of "privilege".
Beautiful photos to share of a really good salt march!

Erica Houskeeper said...

Really interesting post. So much drama, and so many lawsuits! I had a friend from college from Greenwich, and I think we went to Greenwich Point while visiting her parents one weekend.

Unknown said...

It is really only "open to all" in the winter months. I corrrected my post. It was misleading.

Thanks Robin! Glad you like them.

California is the same way. The beaches are public.

Thanks! It seems to me that they draw more attention to the place with all the restrictions.

inchirieri apartamente cluj said...

As I see it, the authorities in Greenwich don't like residents. I don't think it is legal do make such discrimination between citizens and residents. It is just a beach, not some top secret documents.
But I have to say that the Greenwich authorities are quite sharp. They make small changes after they are being sued. At least now, during winter, Mr. Leydon can visit Greenwich.

Sildenafil Citrate said...
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Brian said...

the past 2 years I've made the short sail from Stamford to Greenwich for the fireworks show. Last year we were anchored about 50 feet from the swim area (great view of the fireworks, could hear the music onshore very clearly). We figured it would be fun to swim in and check out the beach party, but the police threatened to arrest us for swimming into the swim area from the boat!