Suffolk County and Southold officials announced Saturday several steps they were taking to prevent overcrowding, maintain safe social distancing, and protect environmental resources at Cedar Beach County Park and other Southold Town and Suffolk County park beaches.
Due to issues at Cedar Beach, which is restricted to Suffolk County residents, that include overcrowding from non-county residents using the park, people fishing in large groups and complaints of people relieving themselves around the beach, officials said they were stepping up enforcement at the park via coordination with Southold Town police and the Suffolk County Park rangers.
All identification will now be checked at the gate to make sure only county residents are entering the beach. The town will also step up patrols on the water to ensure fish are being legally caught. The park gate will also be closed at sundown while a security guard at night will be also added, along with new trash receptacles and a guard booth, among other steps.
Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said his department had been “very busy” at Cedar Beach during the past two months. Police had been writing between 50 to 75 tickets at the beach per weekend for violations including nonresidents using the park and fishing violations. It was also commonplace for police to find between 100 to 200 people fishing on the beach on a typical day, Flatley said.
“I think what’s taken place today is going to go a long way for securing this spot in just having a physical presence here and the signage that is here,” Flatley said.
Jim Groeneveld, a Southold resident for 10 years who had often gone running in the park, said he had seen more and more fishermen over time. While Groeneveld and his neighbors have tried to pick up the garbage on the beach, it had now become “too voluminous.”
“I don’t run in this part of the park anymore because I don’t want to see people defecating and pulling down their pants and having to relieve themselves all over the park’s property,” Groeneveld said.
While he was glad officials were taking action, Groeneveld said he and his neighbors will wait a month to see if the new measures will be effective in curbing the park’s problems.
“We have to see a result down here,” Groeneveld said.
Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said that while the issues at Cedar Beach were not new and it had been challenging to manage the beach because the county had limited resources, the improvements were “going to have a profound effect for the better” for the area.
“I think the results will be immediate starting this weekend. I think you’re going to see a huge improvement,” Russell said.
Suffolk Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said making the beach more secure was both a local and a regional issue.
“This is a community and everybody has to work together on this issue and on this problem. When people come here and leave their garbage and they use the beach as a bathroom and they wantonly kill the fish, this is so unacceptable. This kind of effort is a response to that,” Krupski said.