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Editorial: A simple choice for Asharoken

A view of the shore at Asharoken Beach.

A view of the shore at Asharoken Beach. Credit: Steve Pfost

Asharoken faces a very simple choice: If it wants to keep its beaches private, it can fund beach restoration with village money. But if it wants the state and federal governments to pay the tab, that means everyone who pays taxes to the state and federal government ought to be allowed to feel the sand between their toes.

Fair is fair.

Under a plan to utilize Sandy recovery money, about 2.4 miles of Asharoken beach would be restored for about $25 million to $30 million. That stretch of beach has no public access and no public parking. Village Mayor Gregory Letica, though, wants to keep all or some of the beach private and still get the state and federal funds. He's already been told by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it's not going to happen, but he's still fighting.

Letica argues the public will get a benefit from the restoration of the beach because it will provide better protection against storms for Asharoken Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the village -- on which anyone may drive. But the rules say that's not good enough.

Asharoken is still fighting, and Letica has written Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), claiming residents will lose privacy and confidence that they can leave their things on the beach and face "liability issues." So they'd experience the publicly funded beach as most of the public does, though they'd have nearby houses to which they could retreat if the masses offended.

Having a private beach is a luxury, and an expensive one. Those Asaharoken property owners who enjoy that luxury have a right to maintain it. They just don't have the right to ask anyone else to foot any part of the bill.