OLD LYME, Conn. (WTNH) — The last pieces of a controversial fence are coming down in Old Lyme.
Neighbors in the Soundview section won a lawsuit after a private homeowners’ association built that fence and started charging a fee. Crews spent Thursday morning removing that controversial fence.
“I’m feeling really happy now that this is finally coming down,” said Kathleen Tracy, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit about the fence.
The fence used to separate what’s called Miami Beach from Soundview Beach. The deed written more than a hundred years ago says the public has to be allowed access to Miami Beach, even though it is privately owned by a homeowners association. The fence was put up by the association in 2017.
“It allowed us who was coming on to this beach and we could check coolers and do all of that,” explained Miami Beach Association President Mark Mongillo. “Now, all of that is gone.”
Part of the problem is that the privately owned Miami Beach is right next to the public part of Soundview Beach with bars and restaurants. Sometimes the fun that’s happening at the bars spills over onto Miami Beach.
“They would literally have sex on the deck, they would leave litter on the beach that made this look like a landfill at the end of the year,” Mongillo said.
“One time that happened, and it’s been a soundbite for 6 years,” said Tracy. “A diaper on the beach was found and that’s been a soundbite for 6 years. It’s like now it’s like folklore.”
The two sides disagree about the bad behavior, but Tracy says they can work together.
“Any beach in the country is going to have litter on the beach, and then we pick it up and take care of it,” Tracy said. “Our town pays over $20,000 every year to clean up this beach.”
Mongillo says the association pays a lot more and he says that deed only says people can walk along the beach, not stop and sit down. Now they have no way to control that.
“And now we’re left with a beach that we own, we pay taxes on, we pay insurance on it, and we can’t do anything with it,” said Mongillo. “It makes no sense to us.”
Mongillo said police will now be responding to a lot more calls, the town of Old Lyme will have to spend more of its own money on enforcement, and he will continue fighting in court.