Which candidates can swim at Greenwich Point Park in 2010?  Can they swim every day of the week?
J. Kennedy Tod's "Cottage" at Greenwich Point Park (l).  Ferry to island beaches.  Good music here Constitutional issue here, perhaps.


FOR MORE ON BEACH ISSUE



Did they come to Greenwich in 2008 for $$ or just to use the beach, because of its new policy for out-of-towners?


Great Captains Island dock extension holds key to ferry improvements
Greenwich TIME
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published: 09:45 p.m., Sunday, July 4, 2010

Take a long walk off a short pier.

But in the case of Great Captains Island, officials would much rather it be a long pier.

The more rustic and less frequented of the two town-owned islands in the middle of Long Island Sound, Great Captains Island is not nearly as accessible as its sister, Island Beach.

The ferry schedule to the island, which has a historic lighthouse and bird sanctuary, is largely determined by tides. There is no service two hours before and two hours after low tide because the water is too shallow for the ferry to dock.

"Some days when you get a really low tide, it complicates it even more," said Joseph Siciliano, the town's parks director.

The town recently contracted Stratford-based Roberge Associates Coastal Engineers for $17,624 to evaluate the existing dock that was built in 1975 and come up with a preliminary design for extending it.

An extension of the structure, which includes a fixed pier and floating dock, would have to be approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Once the dimensions of the elongated dock are finalized, Siciliano said the town can move forward with plans to add new ferry routes and buy a new boat for its aging fleet.

Instead of designing a ferry from scratch, Siciliano said the town could choose a ready-made hull that has been approved by the Coast Guard and then add on the boat's super-structure to save money.

Discussions with marine yards in Maine and Virginia on a new ferry, which is expected to cost between $1.5 million and $1.8 million, are already under way.

The town's ferry fleet consists of three vessels -- the 225-passenger Indian Harbor built in 1937, 76-passenger Islander II built in 1948 and 299-passenger Island Beach built in 1961.

The goal is to retire the two older boats and replace them with the new ferry in the next two years.

All three vessels are certified by the Coast Guard through the spring of 2012, according to the town.

Ferry service to the islands runs from mid-June to mid-September. A Cruise to Nowhere is also offered during the summer.

The town is ultimately looking to introduce a triangular ferry route between the Arch Street dock, Island Beach and Great Captains Island.

"It would give riders an alternative of going back and forth to each island," Siciliano said. "We do get a lot of people that just ride the boat. They never get off."

Mary Bruce, a boater and member of the Representative Town Meeting, embraced the prospect.

"It seems like a no-brainer," Bruce said.

Popular among sun-worshippers and overnight campers, the islands are a 20-minute boat ride from the Arch Street dock. Siciliano estimated that the new triangular route would take about 40 to 45 minutes to complete.

"It actually could provide better service," Siciliano said.


Getting involved in Greenwich: State and local issues affecting southwestern Greenwich
Our Lost Beaches
Greenwich TIME
By John Bowman
October 15, 2009 at 1:50 pm

The beach lawsuits led to lots of rules that attempted to accommodate our new out-of-town guests – without being too accommodating.  The rulemakers have spent a lot of time trying to walk the thin line between being “open” to out-of-towners and opening the floodgates and they did so with great encouragement from residents, including myself when back in ’02 I fought to ensure that beach passes would not be sold at the gate in Byram because it was too easy for visitors to take the bus right up to the gate and get in, or park in downtown Byram and walk over.

We don’t talk about what we’ve lost in all this: guests.  There is no such thing anymore as a guest.  I want to use this post to review what we used to be able to do, that we can’t any longer.

Before the lawsuits we used to be able to invite friends to join us at the beach and just leave their name at the gate.  They would then pay the guest fee and be allowed to enter.  There was no fee for parking and it was easy and affordable to have guests come.  This was the case at all beaches, including Island Beach.  Then, after the first lawsuit, the non-resident pass system started.  Passes had to be purchased remotely and the idea of a guest pass disappeared – it now cost residents the same to bring in a guest as it cost a non-resident.  Even with that, for a few years, you could leave up to 8 names with the ticket booth attendant at Island Beach and guests could come.  I used to invite guests who came by train or by car, because there was no parking fee in the Island Beach lot.  That’s gone now, tickets have to be purchased remotely and parking is prohibitively high there too.

It just stinks that we no longer have any accommodation for residents to bring guests to the beach.  My suggestion, keep the $5 per guest pass but give residents free guest parking passes.  Could this result in an influx of non-resident cars and a parking problem?  I suppose, but I doubt it.  But since we have no problem experimenting with new rules that make it more difficult for residents to enjoy the beach, why not experiment with something that will make the beach more valuable for all of us.  Cost is nothing.

At the very least I’d like to see the Board of Parks and Recreation explore ways to make it easy and affordable for residents to bring in guests and maybe take a season off from the usual pursuit of making it more difficult and expensive.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could invite our friends to join us at one of our beaches, like we were able to do for so many years?  We have let those lawsuits actually diminish the value of our beaches for residents, and that should never happen.


Greenwich may tighten ferry rules for out-of-towners
Stamford ADVOCATE
By Neil Vigdor
Posted: 12/11/2008 03:05:09 AM EST

GREENWICH - Talk about missing the boat.

To take a ride on a town ferry next summer, nonresidents would first be required to visit one of three locations - the closest a half-mile inland from the Arch Street dock - to buy a ticket under a proposal scheduled to be discussed this morning by the Board of Selectmen.

They could no longer buy tickets at the dock, a source of discontent among locals this past summer when out-of-towners were allowed to ride the ferries to Island Beach and Great Captains Island for the first time without the company of a resident.

Both islands are about two miles offshore and are owned by the town.

First Selectman Peter Tesei called the proposal equitable and balanced.

"It's consistent with what we do at our other facilities," said Tesei, who helped hatch the proposal with parks officials, the town's parking services director and several concerned residents.

Town Hall would be the closest point of sale for ferry tickets for anyone who doesn't have a residents-only seasonal beach card.

On weekends, however, ferry tickets would only be sold at the Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center in Glenville, 2.7 miles from the dock, or at the Greenwich Civic Center in Old Greenwich, 4.9 miles from the dock.

In addition, Tesei said the town is considering charging nonresidents $20 daily parking per vehicle in the municipal lot across the street from the ferry dock. Parking is currently free in the ferry lot.

Vincent Mingalone, a Stamford resident who rode the ferries several times this past summer with his family, griped about the potential changes.
"It seems to me just another tactic or attempt to discourage out-of-towners. You can't just show up on the weekend and say, 'Hey, we're here,' " said Mingalone, who is hoping to attend today's selectmen meeting.

Carol Zarrilli, a lifelong town resident and District 1/South Center Representative Town Meeting member, applauded the town's response.

"I think it's a good thing. When I had been at the booth to buy tickets, the line was very long," said Zarrilli, who is also hoping to attend today's meeting.

Town officials changed the ferry policy last winter, fearing a lawsuit like the one that forced Greenwich to open its beaches to out-of-towners in 2001.

The move infuriated many residents, who argued that they pay taxes supporting upkeep of the ferries and the islands. More than 325 residents signed a petition demanding that the town rethink the policy .

While residents and nonresidents alike must pay for a $3 ferry ticket, out-of-towners also must purchase a $5 daily beach pass. A season pass, available to only to residents, costs $27.

Under the proposal, ferry tickets would be sold from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at Town Hall, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week at the Greenwich Civic Center in Old Greenwich and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends and holidays at the Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center in Glenville.


Remember this?
Fired Greenwich parks worker wants job back
Satamford ADVOCATE
By Neil Vigdor
Posted: 11/29/2008 02:54:31 AM EST

GREENWICH - A former Greenwich parks worker who was fired for issuing free beach cards is fighting to get her job back after a state labor board ruled that she was misrepresented by her union during grievance proceedings against the town, which she won.

Less than a month after she was fired in July 2004, June Davila filed a grievance against the town through the Greenwich Municipal Employees Asociation, which had argued that termination from her job as an administrative clerical assistant in charge of the town's beach card office was excessive punishment.

An independent arbitrator upheld Davila's grievance in January 2006, setting aside her termination, ordering a one-day suspension in its place and telling the town to compensate her for lost wages and benefits.

Without Davila's knowledge and against her wishes, however, the union subsequently brokered an agreement with the town in which Davila would receive the back pay in return for her resignation, according to attorney V. Michael Simko Jr. of Bridgeport, who represents Davila. "She wants her job back," Simko said. "She enjoyed what she did. She can't wait to go back to work."

Simko said the town and the union went as far as to delete Davila's signature line from the agreement, which representatives from both parties signed irrespective of his client's wishes.

The Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations found merit to Davila's claims in an Oct. 30 ruling that voided the agreement between the town and union and ordered the two to share in the costs of compensating Davila for lost wages and benefits.

"Perhaps the most incredulous aspect of this saga is the fact that when Davila made it clear that she would not agree to waive reinstatement, the union and the town simply removed her name from the agreement and went forward with their deal," the board wrote.

Both the town and GMEA, which represents 457 administrative assistants and clerks, can appeal the labor board ruling.

First Selectman Peter Tesei, who was not in office when Davila was fired, defended the decision to terminate her but referred questions on the handling of the grievance to town attorneys. Messages seeking comment from municipal attorneys were left with the town's Law Department. "Anybody who was dispensing (free) beach cards, which have a value, committed an ethical lapse," said Tesei.

Hamden lawyer John Gesmonde, who represents GMEA but did not at the time of the grievance proceedings, said that the union was simply following the advice of its attorney and had yet to decide whether it would fight the ruling or abide by the award terms.

"I don't want to see this thing linger," Gesmonde said.

The union lawyer said he did not have an estimate of how much the damages would cost GMEA or the town.  Davila, who lived in Rye, N.Y., at the time she was fired and now resides in White Plains, N.Y., was one of four workers who were disciplined for their roles in the issuance of free beach passes.  According to town officials, the disciplined employees issued between 28 and 39 beach and tennis cards worth $25 apiece, in addition to at least eight parking stickers for the beaches, before a computer program detected the scam.

Under town policy, the cards are available to residents and town employees only, at a cost of $27 each per year.  Municipal employees are eligible for one free parking sticker per family with the purchase of a beach card. Additional parking stickers cost $100 apiece.

"In hindsight, she regrets what she did and believes a one-day suspension is warranted," Simko said of Davila.

Simko said his client is most interested in getting her job back than in any grievance award.

"Everything else will go away. Put us back to work," said Simko, who described the negotiations between his client and GMEA as fruitful. "There were some good-faith negotiations with the union."


Out-of-towners fail to send ferry service surging
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/12/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

Ferry ridership in Greenwich is up just two percent from last year, initial evidence that debunks theories that droves of out-of-towners would flock to Island Beach and Great Captains Island.  Through the first 24 days of seasonal ferry service, 11,097 beach-goers rode the ferries to the town-owned islands, according to figures released yesterday by parks officials.  During the same time period last year, 10,833 passengers rode town ferries.

"I can't say I'm surprised. You're always going to have the curiosity-seekers. Once that novelty wears off, I think people will opt for alternatives," First Selectman Peter Tesei said.

The town is allowing nonresidents to ride the ferries for the first time this summer. Nonresidents previously were only permitted on the ferries as guests of residents.  Fearing another lawsuit like the one that forced the town to open its beaches to outsiders in 2001, officials quietly changed the ferry policy this past off-season. The move angered a number of residents, who argued that they pay taxes supporting the upkeep of the ferries and the islands, which are about two miles off the shore of Greenwich.

About one of every five visitors to the islands the first three-and-a-half weeks of ferry service purchased $5 daily admission tickets for the islands, according to parks officials. The $5 fare is required for out-of-towners, guests of residents from outside Greenwich and residents without seasonal beach cards. The town does not distinguish between the three different groups.  Guests of residents accounted for about one out of every 10 passengers on average the past two summers, according to rough estimates by parks officials.

While residents and nonresidents alike must pay for a $3 ferry ticket, out-of-towners also must purchase a $5 daily beach pass. A season pass, available only to town residents, costs $27.  Parks Director Joseph Siciliano said the town will get a better sense of how the policy change affects ferry ridership as the summer progresses.

"So we're going to be working in this, keeping abreast of it," Siciliano said.

Town officials cautioned that ferry ridership figures are heavily affected by the weather. They also noted that the July 4 holiday fell mid-week last year instead of on a Friday like this year.  Siciliano said additional employees have been on-duty at the Arch Street ferry dock and on the islands in case of an increase in the number of beachgoers.

"We've been having more supervision there," he said.


Open ferry policy upsets some in Greenwich
Stamford ADVOCATE
By Neil Vigdor
Staff Writer
Article Launched: 06/17/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT


GREENWICH - Reverting to a policy that restricts nonresidents from riding town ferries unless they are accompanied by a resident would be impossible to justify if challenged in a court, First Selectman Peter Tesei said yesterday.

"Like I said, it's pretty straightforward," Tesei said. "You look at all the facts that are out there on the table, I think that's a likely conclusion that most people can draw."

Tesei was responding to criticism from residents over allowing out-of-towners to ride the ferries to Island Beach and Great Captains Island for the first time this past weekend. About a third of the ferry passengers were from out of town during one stretch of Sunday afternoon, drawing the ire of Greenwich residents who said they pay for the upkeep of the ferries and the islands.

"They come in. They take over the whole island. I don't think it's right," said Mary Pellegrino, a member of the Representative Town Meeting who frequents the islands. "I think it's awful."

Greenwich owns the islands two miles offshore. Fearing another lawsuit like the one the town lost that forced it to open its beaches to nonresidents in 2001, officials quietly changed the ferry policy this past off-season.

Selectman Lin Lavery called on the Board of Selectmen to revisit the policy.

"I think the Board of Selectmen should be briefed on the fees that are charged, how they are comparable to other communities and what the cost of the services are," Lavery said.  Selectman Peter Crumbine said he empathized with residents upset over the change.
 
"I agree with them entirely," Crumbine said. "We pay not only to maintain the beaches, but we pay a considerable amount to operate the ferries."

At the same time, Crumbine said residents must consider the repercussions of impeding nonresidents' access to the islands.

"I support anything that will avoid further lawsuits and legal expenses," Crumbine said.

Beset by a series of costly lawsuits against the town, the Law Department exceeded its $600,000 budget for outside legal help by $1 million this fiscal year. Among cases that ate into the budget was a lawsuit brought by a Stamford resident who said Greenwich's daily admission fees at its beaches were onerous. The town prevailed in the case but has gradually lowered its daily admission fee from $10 per person to $6 and then to $5.  A round-trip ferry ticket is $8 per person for nonresident adults, compared with $3 for residents with beach cards. A card costs $27 for the season and is available only to a resident.

Pellegrino, meanwhile, said residents were being forced to cede more and more of their town to nonresidents.

"Come on, I've got a front porch here. I've got to let them on it and be nice about it?" she said.  The opinions of longtime residents like herself should carry greater weight with elected officials such as Tesei, Pellegrino added.

"Are the people in the Bronx voting for him, too?" she said.


Beach card arrest nixed
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor,
Staff Writer
Article Launched: 05/28/2008 02:31:13 AM EDT

Prosecutors have denied a police application for a warrant to arrest a town man in an alleged beach card counterfeiting scheme.

In memo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the Stamford-Norwalk state's attorney's office said police needed to submit more evidence to arrest the subject of a three-month criminal investigation.   Police believe they have enough evidence to charge the suspect in the case with 16 counts of second-degree forgery and one count of second-degree larceny, according to a warrant application affidavit that was also obtained under FOI.  Much of their case against the town man hinges on evidence and testimony provided by his ex-wife, however, something that police said they were told by prosecutors undermines their chances of getting a conviction.

"There's not enough hard evidence to prove the case in a court. That's certainly their prerogative," Chief David Ridberg said. "We'll try to do a bit more to meet their needs."

In the memo, prosecutors told police not to resubmit the warrant request unless they could provide actual forged passes that were distributed to individuals.  A message seeking comment was left yesterday with the Office of the State's Attorney for the Stamford-Norwalk judicial district.  In February, town officials received a binder from the suspect's ex-wife containing photocopies of what were alleged to be fake beach cards, parking stickers and marina permits. It also identified the person allegedly running the operation.
 
Detectives later said they determined the materials to be forgeries during the three-month probe. As part of their investigation, police said they received sworn statements from three individuals whose names appeared on the forged materials and a fourth alleged to have been offered a fake beach card by the suspect. They also interviewed four other individuals whose names appeared on the counterfeit items and attempted to question the suspect, who declined to cooperate with the investigation through his attorney. Attempts to interview three other individuals whose names appeared on the forgeries were unsuccessful, police said.

According to the warrant request, police checked for fingerprints on the forgeries and searched a laptop computer provided by the suspect's ex-wife but came up with no evidence. They were able to get copies of telephone records showing that the suspect spoke to some of the witnesses during the investigation.  First Selectman Peter Tesei, who called for a criminal probe of the matter, said the use of police resources and breadth of the investigation were justified.

"To do anything less would be to short-change taxpayers," Tesei said. "More importantly, (not fully investigating) sends the wrong message to the community about unacceptable practices."

Only residents can buy a beach card, which costs $27 per person for the entire season. Each cardholder is entitled to a free parking sticker for the season if his or her vehicle is registered in town. Stickers for vehicles not registered in Greenwich cost $100 for the season.  Anyone without a beach card, including nonresidents, must pay a $5 daily admission fee per person to enter the beaches. Daily parking is $20 per vehicle.  The 16 counts of second-degree forgery represents the number of counterfeit items allegedly produced by the suspect. Police sought the additional charge of second-degree larceny because the forgeries were intended to defraud a public community.  Ridberg said the department isn't giving up on the case and could try to resubmit its request for an arrest warrant.

"I recognize it's important to the town," Ridberg said.

Greenwich Time received a binder with materials similar to those described by town officials. It contained photocopies of beach cards from the 2005 and 2006 seasons with the names of several individuals and their supposed addresses, which were all in Old Greenwich.  None of the individuals named were listed in telephone directories at the addresses printed on the cards, however. One of the individuals was listed as a Stamford resident.

Photocopies of beach parking stickers from the 2006 and 2004 seasons also were included, as well as several marina permits from 2006.


Kempner continues battle over beach
Greenwich TIME
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 05/27/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

A Stamford man whose challenge to the town's beach access policy for out-of-towners was dismissed last week will ask a federal judge to reconsider and decide whether the town's sale of beach passes at two off-site facilities is unduly restrictive, his lawyer said.

In a decision released Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall ruled that the town restricted the free speech rights of Paul Kempner three years ago when police cited him for trespass and the town attempted to charge him a $10 entrance fee to Greenwich Point. The town, which later lowered the entry fee to $5, was ordered to pay Kempner $1 in damages.

Hall ruled against Kempner's bid to have the town's current beach-access fee declared in violation of the First Amendment, saying Kempner showed little evidence of the required intent to visit Greenwich Point or other town beaches in the future.

Kempner declined to comment last week.

"There has been progress here but at a great price," said Joseph Bainton, Kempner's Manhattan-based lawyer. "I think it's sad that it hasn't been decided."

Bainton said he believes it is only a matter of time before Greenwich's beach-access policy and fees for out-of-towners are challenged and overturned because, he said, they restrict free speech and political discussion.

The ruling did not address the substance of Kempner's contention that the current $5 daily beach access fee for nonresidents violates a 2001 state Supreme Court decision that ordered Greenwich to offer reasonable terms of access to nonresidents not accompanied by a town resident.

Town residents may obtain a season pass to town beaches by paying a $27 fee. In addition to the $5 entry fee, out-of-towners must pay a $20 daily fee to park their vehicles at town beaches. Out-of-towners are not allowed to board town ferries unless accompanied by a town resident.

"I think Mr. Kempner is done because he's had the beach policy under which he was arrested declared unconstitutional," Bainton said. "But I'm disappointed Judge Hall didn't want to decide the constitutionality of the current policy during an election year where there is heated debate over who will be the next president of the United States."

As it stands, Bainton argued, the current policy would require a presidential campaign worker to spend $5 to enter Greenwich Point, and another $20 in parking fees to campaign at the park, a clear cut impediment to protected free speech.

"Suppose you lived in Westport and wanted to campaign in Greenwich and advocate for any of the three senators running for president," Bainton said. "That would cost you $25 bucks a day. Say you want to go 10 times. You do the arithmetic. I suspect somebody thinks traditional public forums should be open and will bring suit sometime before Labor Day."

Michael Shea, the Hartford litigator who defended the town from Kempner's suit, said that though Hall did not determine if Greenwich's $5 daily access fees is constitutional, she did uphold the town's right to collect fees to cover the cost of the running the facility.

In April the town argued to Hall that the cost of maintaining and running Greenwich beaches came to about $5 a visitor, justifying the price charged out-of-towners, Shea said.

"Though she didn't decide the merit of Mr. Kempner's challenge an encouraging thing for the town was that she said the town has a right to collect fees to pay for the cost of running the beach," Shea said.


Beach fee case dismissed
Greenwich TIME
Martin B. Cassidy
Article Launched: 05/22/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

Saying a Stamford man offered little proof that he visits Greenwich Point, a federal judge yesterday dismissed his challenge of the town's current beach access fees, but ordered the town to pay him $1 in damages for violating his free speech rights in 2005.

In a decision released yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall ruled that the town three years ago curbed the free speech rights of Paul Kempner, 77, a Stamford shoreline resident and bicyclist, by charging the $10 admission fee. Kempner sued the town claiming the fee restricted his free speech rights.

But Hall also ruled that Kempner and his younger co-plaintiff, James Schwarz, 50, also of Stamford, lacked standing to sue over the current fees because of little evidence they planned to visit Greenwich Point or other town beaches in the future. Kempner has not visited the beach in more than two years, the judge said.

The ruling did not address the substance of Kempner's contention that the current $5 daily beach access fee for nonresidents violates a 2001 state Supreme Court decision that ordered Greenwich to offer reasonable terms of access to nonresidents not accompanied by a town resident.

In granting Kempner nominal damages, Hall said the town did not attempt to defend or justify its earlier $10 fee, and that its decision to adopt the lower $5 a day fee for the 2008 beach season supports Kempner's claim that the prior fee unfairly restricted nonresidents from visiting Greenwich Point.

Kempner filed a federal lawsuit in 2006 arguing the town's beach access policy curbed the individual free speech rights of out-of-towners by charging them more for access to town beaches.

Hall dismissed a second claim of discrimination, finding that a town policy change made giving free access to those 65 years and older rendered Kempner's claims moot. The policy change was made after Kempner filed suit.

Town Attorney John Wayne Fox said it's important that Hall's decision upheld the town's argument that Greenwich had a right to collect fees needed for the beach's upkeep.

For a hearing in April the town submitted detailed calculations that showed the average cost for each visitor to the beach is about $5, Fox said.

"It is and continues to be our position that the beach is open to the public and that we are entitled to charge a fee that is reasonable to support and reimburse the town for the costs incurred in maintaining this facility," Fox said.

Since Kempner filed suit in 2006, the town has relaxed its beach access policy for out-of-towners several times.

Kempner sued the town after being issued a trespassing infraction in June 2005 for riding into Greenwich Point without paying the beach access fee.

Prosecutors dismissed the case and a $95 fine, but Kempner pursued the civil suit.

Kempner, and his Manhattan-based attorney, Joseph Bainton, said they had not read the ruling and declined to comment yesterday.

Hall also dismissed another complaint by Kempner, added this spring, challenging the town's practice of selling beach passes to out-of-towners only during business hours at Town Hall and the Greenwich Civic Center.

Kempner should have included the complaint in his original suit, but only included it in his final filing for summary judgment, Hall said.


Kempner gains ally in beach access case
Greenwich TIME
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published October 19 2007

A younger man has joined a Stamford bicyclist's lawsuit challenging Greenwich's beach access fees for out-of-towners to prevent a new town policy that allows senior citizens from anywhere into parks for free from weakening the case.  Paul Kempner, 77, a resident of Stamford's shoreline, filed a class action lawsuit last year claiming the town's beach access policy violated the state constitution by charging non-residents higher fees than town residents.

Before the past season, the town revised its beach access policy allowing Kempner and others over the age of 65 into beaches for free regardless of where they live, and has argued that change makes Kempner's claim moot.

"They changed the rule to let in senior citizens, but that doesn't change the grounds for the lawsuit," Kempner said yesterday.

In a filing in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, attorneys for Kempner asked that James P. Schwarz, 50, of Stamford, be added as a plaintiff to represent state residents under 65.  In a trial, attorneys for the town might argue that because Kempner is a senior citizen with free access to town beaches, he lacks standing to represent residents who are restricted by the fee policy, the filing said.

"Mr. Schwarz, who is more than ten years younger than Mr. Kempner, has monitored this case and the circumstances from which it arises with great interest because he subscribes to the same principles," the motion reads. "Mr. Schwarz has chosen to join (the case) in order to cure any procedural impediment arising from the fact that Mr. Kempner is over 65 years of age."

This summer, a federal judge granted Kempner the right to sue the town's beach access policy on First Amendment grounds, but dismissed a second claim that the town's policy of charging out-of-towners higher fees discriminates against people from other Connecticut towns.

Kempner refiled the lawsuit in August revising the dismissed claim, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Janet C. Hall, has not yet ruled on the amended claims' merits.  Kempner said that Schwarz' age bolsters the suit's claim that the policy discriminates against out-of towners, because unlike Kempner, Greenwich's policy continues to restrict access to those under 65.

"We want to prevent them from avoiding a hearing of this case on the merits," Kempner said.

Schwarz and Kempner's attorney, Manhattan-based Joseph Bainton could not be reached for comment.  Kempner filed the lawsuit in 2006 on behalf of non-Greenwich residents in the state, claiming he and others have suffered nominal losses by being deprived the right to enter Greenwich Point, which they argue is a public park.  In June 2005, Kempner was cited for trespassing for riding through Greenwich Point without paying the $10 entrance fee. Prosecutors dropped the charge after Kempner indicated he would fight it.

Kempner continued to use the park, and offered to pay the town's seasonal beach fee for town residents, $27.

Then, earlier this year, the town revised the beach policy, lowering the daily nonresident fee to $6 and allowing those 65 and older free admission regardless of where they live.  Town attorneys then touted the policy change as having erased the basis for Kempner's claim since he was eligible to enter the parks for free.

Michael P. Shea, a Hartford-based attorney representing Greenwich, could not be reached for comment.


Bicyclist files new suit over beach policy
Greenwich TIME
By Martin B. Cassidy, Staff Writer
Published August 10 2007

A Stamford bicyclist challenging the town's beach policy for out-of-towners has revised his ongoing lawsuit to fight the dismissal of a claim the town's beach fees violate the state constitution.

Last month U.S. District Court Judge Janet Hall ruled Paul Kempner could sue Greenwich over its beach access policy on First Amendment grounds. But she dismissed a separate claim that Greenwich's charging higher fees for out-of-towners violates the state constitution because it discriminates against residents of other Connecticut towns. The judge said there was insufficient information to back up the claim.

In the revised suit filed Wednesday, Kempner's New York City-based attorney Joseph Bainton argues that the higher fee structure for nonresidents is counter to the state constitution's requirement that towns operate parks for use by the general public and not just its own residents.

"We just want what's equitable and nothing has changed," Kempner said yesterday. "We feel the area should be available to all Connecticut residents in accordance with the Leydon ruling."

Kempner filed a class-action lawsuit in 2006 on behalf of non-Greenwich residents in the state, claiming he and others have suffered nominal losses as a result of the town's beach policy.  Hall has yet to certify Kempner as a representative of Connecticut citizens.

In June 2005, Kempner was cited for trespassing for riding through Greenwich Point without paying the $10 entrance fee. Prosecutors dropped the charge after Kempner indicated he would fight it.  Kempner continued to use the park to ride his bike, and offered to pay the town's seasonal beach fee for town residents, $27.

This year the town revised its beach policy, lowering its daily fee from $10 to $6 for nonresidents, and allowing all over 65 to enter the parks for free.  Hall rejected the town's argument that the policy change made Kempner's suit moot, because he was now eligible to enter the park for free.

Bainton said that the town has the legal right to charge people who drive into the beaches parking fees, but access by foot or bicycle to parks should be free.

"That would be a possible solution to this," Bainton said.

Michael P. Shea, a Hartford-based attorney representing Greenwich, declined comment on the new filing.



Town relaxes beach polilcies
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published February 10 2007


Despite objections from a group of homeowners who live on the waterfront, the town decided yesterday to relax its admission standards for nonresidents at town beaches this summer.  Beachgoers 65 and older from out of town will be allowed to visit Greenwich Point and Byram parks for free for the entire season under the plan approved by the Board of Selectmen.

Another prominent change reduced the $10 daily admission fee charged to adult nonresidents to $6 per person, matching the fee charged to guests of residents.  Members of the Lucas Point Association challenged the changes, however.  The group, which owns the lone causeway into Greenwich Point, complained that the changes had not been properly vetted by residents since being introduced last week.

"You're actually favoring nonresidents over residents," said Horst Tebbe, the association's vice president. "There's something wrong with that picture."

Town officials have said that the changes are being made to simplify the admission procedures at the beaches.  But others say litigation over public access to the waterfront is driving concessions such as reduced admission for nonresidents.  The town developed its current admission policies and fee schedule after the state Supreme Court ordered it to open its beaches to nonresidents in a landmark ruling in 2001.

Advocates for public access to the waterfront have steadily accused the town of violating the spirit of that ruling by charging nonresidents $10 daily admission and $20 to park, which will remain the same under the new plan.  Residents, in contrast, are eligible for beach cards for the entire season costing $27 per person and free parking for vehicles registered in town.

Paul Kempner, 77, who sued the town after he was hit with a trespassing infraction for riding his bike into Greenwich Point without paying the fee in 2005, can now visit the beach for free. The Stamford man is eligible for free nonresident senior passes, each pass good for 10 visits to the beach with proof of age. The passes will be available only at Town Hall and at the Greenwich Civic Center in Old Greenwich.

Kempner, whose lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in New Haven, declined comment when reached yesterday at his winter home in Florida.  Selectman Penny Monahan reluctantly went along with the plan after she unsuccessfully proposed extending the $6 entry fee for adult nonresidents to seniors from out of town.

"I won't be supporting that," said First Selectman Jim Lash. Explaining his vote in an interview, Lash said he wanted fees to be consistent for seniors.

"I didn't want to distinguish between 65-year-olds based on where they live," Lash said, noting that the changes make it possible for elderly former residents who live in nearby assisted living facilities, such as Edgehill in Stamford, to visit the beach.  The selectmen did agree to slight changes to another aspect of the policy, however.

Nonresidents will be able to visit Greenwich Point and Byram parks without paying for admission or parking before May 1 and after Oct. 31 -- the initial proposal set Sept. 30 as the cutoff date for the high season.

Nonresidents previously received free admission but had to pay for parking from mid-April to mid-May and from mid-October to mid-November during what was known as the shoulder seasons, which were eliminated.



E-mail flap figure exits Kelly Houston stepping down
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor and Hoa Nguyen, Staff Writers
Published January 12 2007


A year after her e-mails on town race relations sparked controversy, Greenwich Affirmative Action Officer Kelly Houston is stepping down, according to a member of the advisory committee that oversees her position.

"She's definitely out as affirmative action officer and it could be of her own choosing," said Bob Carey, a member of the town's Affir-mative Action Advisory Committee.

Carey said the committee received an e-mail Wednesday from town Human Resources Director Maureen Kast, to whom the affirmative action officer reports, about Houston's status.

"While Kelly is not in the office this week, she is still employed by the town. However, Kelly and the town are discussing her future employment with the town, and Kelly has indicated to me her desire to resign her position," Kast said in the e-mail quoted by Carey.  Carey said it was unclear from the memo whether Houston, who is also assistant human resources director, was leaving altogether or only resigning her duties as affirmative action officer.

Others said Houston's final day as a town employee is today, however.

Reached at her home yesterday, Houston had no comment. Several messages seeking comment from Kast were left at Town Hall, where Houston's voice mail was changed to a general departmental message and her e-mail account appeared to be disabled.

Selectman Penny Monahan, filling in for vacationing First Selectman Jim Lash, said she was not aware of the memo about Houston's resignation.  Held by Houston for about nine years, the job of affirmative action officer was made a full-time position by the town in February 2003. The officer is responsible for mediating disputes that involve issues of race or gender and for helping recruit women and members of minority groups for town jobs.

"She's been fairly good at it, one of the better ones," Carey said.

Houston became embroiled in controversy in December 2005 for a series of e-mails she sent regarding a discrimination complaint against the town, however.

Houston, the lead investigator in the case, found no merit to allegations by a group of minority women that they were denied entry to Greenwich Point Park on June 7, 2005, by park employees because of their skin color.  The women, who included the wives of two former New York Mets, accused Houston of contradicting her findings in several e-mails she sent to a personal trainer they hired to exercise with them at the town beach.

"Seeing a group of Black people that they do not know is going to draw attention," Houston wrote in the June 8 e-mail, which was obtained by Greenwich Time and contained Houston's name, title and town e-mail address.

"I do think that you can use the facilities. However you will have to be discreet and if you are asked you are going to have to say you are just working out with friends. If you are doing a black group, you are going to need to cut your numbers down. Welcome to Greenwich!"

An investigation into the women's discrimination complaint by the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities is still ongoing after a failed settlement attempt. The terms of the settlement had called for Houston and several other town employees to attend anti-discrimination and/or diversity training classes.

The story of the e-mails was highly publicized, with Houston even earning a swipe from MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann. Though Affirmative Action Advisory Committee member Carey lamented the incident, he said he was not told whether it played a role in Houston's resignation.

"That was unfortunate," he said of the e-mail. "She was probably telling the truth. Of course, nobody ever expects their e-mails to go public."

Asked earlier in the week why Houston's voice mail had been changed to a general departmental message, Kast said there would be a "shifting of duties" in the human resources department.

"I can't really comment on what the future is," she said. "It's still in discussion stages. More to come."


Greenwich beach saga continues
DAY
By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer
Oct 5, 5:16 PM EDT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) -- The wealthy town of Greenwich is trying to end a long-running battle over access to its pristine beaches, arguing Thursday that a lawsuit objecting to higher fees for out-of-towners should be dismissed.

Paul Kempner, a bicyclist from neighboring Stamford, is suing the town in federal court over its policy of charging nonresidents $10 per day, which works out to more than $1,000 per season. Residents can get season passes for $27.

Greenwich officials developed the fee structure after the state Supreme Court struck down the town's residents-only beach policy in 2001. In a case involving Stamford lawyer Brenden Leydon, who tried to jog into Greenwich Point Park in 1995, the high court ruled that the town's restrictive policy violated nonresidents' free speech rights.

Kempner said the fees are discriminatory like the original policy banning nonresidents. He said he was given a trespassing ticket that was later dismissed.
 
"There is no just cause or excuse for Greenwich's willful violation of well-settled Connecticut law," Kempner's attorney, Joseph Bainton, wrote in August.

But the town urged a judge to dismiss the lawsuit Thursday, saying the earlier case involved a policy that barred nonresidents from entering the beaches but did not address fees. The town also rejected Kempner's argument that his free speech rights were violated, saying the fee policy does not prevent anyone from speaking on the beach.

"Because bicycling is not protected by the Constitution, he may not challenge the town's fee policy as it applies to him on First Amendment grounds," attorney Michael Shea wrote for the town.

Kempner, a retired real estate developer, said he wanted to express his views about the fees at the beach.

Selectman Peter Crumbine said Greenwich looked at other towns in developing the fee policy.

"We feel in general that our fees are consistent with other towns," Crumbine said.

Greenwich also was involved in a case brought by a group of women, including the wives of two former New York Mets players, who said they were turned away last summer from a town beach because of their skin color. The town said it was because they were not carrying the proper beach entry cards. The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities has not yet made a decision on the case.



Full hearing likely in bias probe
Grenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published June 1 2006

Nearly a year after a minority group of women said they were discriminated against at Greenwich Point Park, a full investigation of the incident looms for the town and several of its employees, who could be questioned at open public hearings about the case.

Town Attorney John Wayne Fox said yesterday that the town was waiting to hear from the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities about potential witnesses that may be called in the case.

The commission filed a complaint against the town in August, three months after Sheila Foster and Millie Bonilla, the wives of former New York Mets players, and a third resident, Claudette Rothman, said they were prevented from exercising together as part of an organized fitness group on the basis of skin color.

The women later filed their own complaints with the commission. But they rejected as insufficient the terms of a proposed settlement in the case in April that would have required the town to conduct diversity training for several of its employees, incorporate anti-discrimination language into its beach policy and repay the women's legal expenses.  While the town and the commission could have reached a settlement on their own and left the women to pursue their individual cases, Fox advised against a bilateral agreement.

"If it was not a global settlement, we were not interested in pursuing it any further," Fox said. "There would still remain the underlying issue, the underlying complaint. Well, they (the women) would always be looking for more."

Fox said the hearings are likely several months off.

CHRO Executive Director R. Hamisi Ingram described the breakdown of the negotiations as unfortunate, saying that the commission preferred to settle the case, even if meant without having the women's approval.

"We had a good agreement," Ingram said. "The town stepped up to the plate and said they would be accountable. But the complainants, the three principals, it just wasn't enough for them. I don't know if they're going to get any more when it goes to a full hearing."

Joseph A. Moniz, the Hartford lawyer who represents the three women, would not comment about the case, saying he was frustrated by the public discussion of the proposed settlement terms.  Bonilla and Foster, who are the wives of former New York Mets Bobby Bonilla and George Foster, said they were denied entry to the beach on June 7.

A town investigation into the allegations found that the women were not carrying the necessary resident beach cards required to enter the park.  Rothman, who is of West Indian descent, said she was allowed to enter the park but told that group exercise was not permitted.  The town's investigation said that group exercise is prohibited for liability reasons.  At least two other groups have been allowed to exercise at the beach, however.

Greenwich Time featured a women's fitness boot camp at the park in May 2002. The newspaper early last month also profiled a fitness clinic for child triathletes at the park.  When questioned about the most recent situation by the newspaper, park employees said the group will no longer be able to use the beach but could use other town fields with a permit and proper insurance.

"I don't think an activity like that hurts the town's case at all," Fox said. "If, in fact, you want to engage in a commercial activity, everyone is treated the same. You need a permit. We're not inclined to have you do it on the beach because of the nature of it being so small. No discrimination there. No discrimination with these women."

A message seeking comment from the clinic's organizer, Bill Bogardus, was left at his home.  Ingram said he was not sure if the commission would make an inquiry about the potential inconsistency.

"It sure is interesting that they said there would be no group activity and then there's group activity," he said.



Town OKs bias settlement
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published March 23 2006

The town accepted the terms of a proposed settlement of a civil rights complaint yesterday, eight months after a group of women that included the wives of two former New York Mets said they were victims of bias at Greenwich Point Park.  Several municipal employees, including the town's affirmative action officer, will be required to attend anti-discrimination and/or diversity training classes under the terms as described by R. Hamisi Ingram, the executive director of the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

 The proposed settlement also calls for the town to incorporate language guaranteeing equal access to parks in its beach policy and provides reimbursement of the women's legal expenses, which are estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. Officials refused to release a copy of the agreement until the commission and the women approve it.

"This is a good resolution of a difficult issue," First Selectman Jim Lash said.  Ingram hailed the proposal's unanimous approval by the Board of Selectmen at a morning meeting at Town Hall and said his agency had agreed in principle to its terms. A final vote by the commission is scheduled for April 11 in Hartford.

"I think that's fantastic," Ingram said. "It's a very good indication of what happens when folks cooperate."

The commission filed a complaint against the town in late August, three months after the wives of former New York Mets players Bobby Bonilla and George Foster said they were denied entry to the beach at Greenwich Point Park on the basis of skin color.  A subsequent town investigation into the June 7 incident found that town residents Millie Bonilla and Sheila Foster, who are Puerto Rican and black, respectively, were not carrying beach cards required to enter the park.

That investigation also contested claims by the women that the remaining members of their organized fitness group who did have beach cards were told to disband by park employees because they were mostly minorities.

Town Affirmative Action Officer Kelly Houston found no merit to discrimination claims in her investigation.  But the women filed their own complaints against the town in December, saying that Houston's findings were severely compromised by a series of e-mails that she exchanged before the conclusion of her investigation with a personal trainer the women had hired.

"Seeing a group of Black people that they do not know is going to draw attention," Houston, herself a minority, wrote in the June 8 e-mail, which was obtained by Greenwich Time and contained Houston's name, title and town e-mail address.

"I do think that you can use the facilities. However you will have to be discreet and if you are asked you are going to have to say you are just working out with friends. If you are doing a black group, you are going to need to cut your numbers down. Welcome to Greenwich!"

CHRO officials have said that Houston and several other employees in the town's Human Resources and Parks departments will be required to attend a 10-hour antidiscrimination training seminar in June and 5-hour refresher classes every year indefinitely.

Efforts to reach Houston yesterday were unsuccessful.

Hartford lawyer Joseph A. Moniz, who represents Bonilla, Foster, and a third town resident, Claudette Rothman, said he was not prepared to comment on the proposal because he had not seen it. His clients have yet to decide on the terms of the proposal.  Town officials, meanwhile, said that their acceptance of the proposed terms was not an admission of wrongdoing.

"In this agreement, the complainants continue to assert that the town violated their rights, and the town asserts that we did not," Lash said.

The town's chief elected official compared the settlement process to the mediation used in other disputes, such as a divorce.  "It's called conciliation," he said.  Ingram, CHRO's senior official, disagreed with Lash's comparisons.

"I wouldn't like to think of it as a divorce," Ingram said. "I would like to think we worked together for a common good."


Town: No report on beach access inquiry
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published January 7 2006

Challenged to turn over an investigator's report on an alleged bias incident at Greenwich Point, town officials say no such report exists on the incident involving the wives of two former New York Mets.

First Selectman Jim Lash said yesterday that the town tried to resolve the matter informally through interviews rather than resort to a full-scale investigation because the alleged victims never filed an official complaint with the town.

Millie Bonilla and Sheila Foster blasted the town after the latest disclosure in the controversial case, which is the subject of a civil rights probe. The town is engaged in settlement talks with the state's civil rights agency and the women, who are the wives of Bobby Bonilla and George Foster. The women said yesterday they were shocked to learn that the town had no documentation to support findings by its affirmative action officer that beach employees were following protocol when they denied them entry to Greenwich Point Park on June 7. Bonilla and Foster, who were part of an organized fitness group of mostly minority residents that tried to use the park, did not have beach cards required to use the facility, according to the officer's informal investigation.

"What investigation?" said Bonilla, who claimed she was denied entry to the beach because she is Puerto Rican while a white member of the same exercise group was admitted to the park without a beach card.

Lash said the town's handling of the inquiry was consistent with past practice, however.

"Every item of this kind that comes to the affirmative action officer is taken seriously and the key people are interviewed, but most of the time the result is to resolve the issue itself rather than produce a report, because that's what most people want -- action not paperwork," Lash said.

Formal complaint or not, the nature of the allegations merited a full-scale investigation, the women said yesterday.

"It is appalling that they've tried to minimize this whole conflict," said Foster, who is black. "I think that they didn't want to deal with this."

Greenwich officials say the town has a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination and that beach users must carry a beach card or pay a $10 daily admission fee to enter Greenwich Point.

In addition to finding that Bonilla and Foster were not carrying beach cards, Town Affirmative Action Officer Kelly Houston's investigation cited liability concerns -- not race, as the women had alleged -- as the reason for the town's refusal to allow the fitness group's remaining members who did have beach cards to exercise at the beach.

At the time she released her findings on June 28, Houston said she had interviewed seven of the nine people who were part of the fitness group and four town employees about the incident.

The women contested those remarks yesterday, saying they were never interviewed by Houston, who also is the town's assistant human resources director and is a member of a minority herself.

"They didn't take us seriously -- This was a bunch of housewives -- they'll go away," said Claudette Rothman, a resident of West Indian descent. Rothman, who also is a party to the settlement negotiations, has said she was admitted to the park but told the group could not exercise together.

Houston had no comment yesterday when asked about the scope of her investigation, one that the women say was contradicted by a series of earlier e-mails that she exchanged with a personal trainer who they hired to lead the fitness group.

"Seeing a group of Black people that they do not know is going to draw attention," Houston wrote in the June 8 e-mail, which was obtained by Greenwich Time and contained her name, title and town e-mail address.

"I do think that you can use the facilities. However you will have to be discreet and if you are asked you are going to have to say you are just working out with friends. If you are doing a black group, you are going to need to cut your numbers down. Welcome to Greenwich!"

Lash said he did not have "firsthand knowledge" of the scope of Houston's inquiry. Greenwich Time requested a copy of Houston's findings under the state Freedom of Information Act, but was told no written report existed.

While the state does not require public or private entities to issue a report in response to bias allegations, a high-ranking civil rights official said it "would be wise to write up something" in such a case.

"Usually you make a written report based on their activities," said R. Hamisi Ingram, executive director of the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. A proposed settlement between the town and the commission would require Houston and other employees in the town's Human Resources and Parks departments to attend a 10-hour anti-discrimination training class in June.

Those workers also would be obligated to be retrained each year indefinitely during a five-hour refresher course as part of the settlement.

Other terms of the settlement include a provision that would force the town to incorporate language guaranteeing equal access to parks in the town's beach-access policy and display anti-discrimination posters in town facilities.

"I am not happy with the terms that are on the table," said Bonilla, who, along with Foster and Rothman, said they were leaning toward rejecting the proposed settlement's terms.

Rothman called for stricter penalties to be brought against the town.

"Giving a minority woman 10 hours of anti-discrimination training is an insult," Rothman said of Houston.




State drops trespassing case

Staff Writer

Published August 25 2005

STAMFORD -- A trespassing infraction against a Stamford cyclist stemming from his refusal to pay the town entry fee for Greenwich Point Park was dropped yesterday by prosecutors, who said the cost of a trial outweighed the benefit.  Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Steve Weiss said potentially spending thousands to try the infraction was a key factor, noting that the cyclist, Paul Kempner, hired two attorneys to challenge it.

"The case involves a 75-year-old man riding his bike who went out and hired an attorney, at some expense I assume . . . it seemed silly (to continue the case)," Weiss said.  On June 8, police fined Kempner $92 for riding his bike into Greenwich Point without paying the fee.  But Weiss said the decision was not based on any questions as to the constitutionality of Greenwich's beach access policy for out-of-towners.

"This wasn't done on constitutional law grounds," Weiss said. "We're not saying there should be parades of bicycles in the park."

Kempner, a retired real estate investor who lives nearby on Stamford's shoreline, said the dropped charge seemed like a repudiation of the town's $10 daily entrance fee for nonresidents. The town also charges out-of-towners a $20 parking fee, bringing a visit by one person in a car to $30.

"I feel completely vindicated," Kempner said. "I don't know why the town takes this stance with cyclists, walkers and runners who pass through the park without using any services."  Kempner said he would return to the park to bike today.

In a motion to dismiss, lawyers for Kempner questioned the fairness of fees Greenwich established for out-of-towners after a 2001 state Supreme Court decision that ordered the town to open its parks to nonresidents. The decision said the town's policy of barring nonresidents from its beaches and public parks violated the First Amendment right to free speech because parks are forums for public discourse.  The decision said the town could charge reasonable fees for admittance.  Town officials said they expected the case's dismissal to have no impact on the collection or enforcement of the town's beach policy.

Town Attorney John Wayne Fox defended the fees the town charged yesterday, and said that Weiss' decision did not raise concerns about whether Greenwich's beach policy was enforceable.  The 2001 Supreme Court decision opening Greenwich beaches did not prohibit charging higher fees to nonresidents, Fox said.

"From our perspective, the fees being charged are comparable with fees charged in other communities," Fox said. "If he wishes to challenge it, it is certainly within his rights."  First Selectman Jim Lash said he considered the out-of-towner fees fair, and that he expected that trespassers would be cited and fined for disregarding it.  The higher nonresident fee takes into account the fact that Greenwich residents pay high property taxes, partially to maintain the beaches.

"We don't set out to cite people, but if they blatantly ignore instructions, we are going to," Lash said. "We hope in fact our citations will be enforced."

Police Chief James Walters said officers would continue to issue trespassing infractions to out-of-towners who don't pay beach access fees, unless prosecutors take issue with it.

"If they did, we'd have to see what other options we have or whether the ordinance needs to be rewritten," Walters said.
Kempner and his attorney, J. Joseph Bainton said dropping the charges signaled a reluctance to defend the beach access policy for out-of towners.

"When challenged, the prosecution was abandoned," Bainton said. "If they think they had a right to preclude him, they should never have dismissed the case."  Bainton said the $10 daily fee violated the First Amendment rights of Kempner to access public lands, because it is high enough to discourage nonresidents from using the park.

"If Greenwich were ever to try to cite Mr. Kempner again they could face a very serious federal civil rights lawsuit," Bainton said. "They can choose to do so again, but if they do it is at their own peril."  Kempner said that he didn't object to the town's parking fee, which is linked to the site's limited number of spaces.  Before being cited, Kempner said all but one gatekeeper at the Point allowed him into the park without paying for a period of several years.

"Nobody questioned my right to be there," he said.  William Dunlap, a professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law said that in itself the decision not to prosecute Kempner would not curb police from citing out-of-towners.

"It's not a precedent of any kind," Dunlap said. "It might be an indication for other people that if they hire a lawyer and file a brief they can beat it . . . but for the next person it may not be worth it."  But Dunlap said the state Supreme Court could address the issue whether towns are justified in charging out-of towners higher fees than residents, and if so how high the fees can be.

"It could have political implications if enough people think the town won't prosecute or if the town begins to crack down on it."  The fees charged by the town for beach access seem unreasonably high and could be challenged legally for prohibiting use by nonresidents, said Stamford lawyer Brenden Leydon, who sued the town over its residents-only beach-access policy after being denied entry to Greenwich Point in 1995.

"It materially infringes going there by charging way more than most people are willing to pay," Leydon said. "This could cause problems to Greenwich by exposing constitutional flaws to what they are doing."



Beach traffic grows

Neil Vigdor - Staff Writer, Greenwich TIME
May 12, 2003

Made famous by a landmark court case, Greenwich Point experienced an 8-percent increase in beach attendance last month compared to the same time last year, parks records show.  While overall attendance at the 147-acre park rose from 43,519 last year to 47,326 in April this year, the number of single-visit passes validated by gatekeepers plummeted from 121 to 82 for the same period. The $10 passes are typically used by out-of-towners who, for the first full season last year, were allowed to visit Greenwich beaches without being accompanied by a resident.

The change came after the state Supreme Court declared the town's residents-only beach-access policy unconstitutional in July 2001. The ruling ended seven years of litigation between the town and Brenden Leydon, the Stamford lawyer denied access to Greenwich Point while jogging.

While Greenwich Point attendance rose last month, the number of beachgoers to visit Byram Park declined by 26 percent compared to April 2002. The park welcomed 8,431 visitors this year, compared to 11,365 last year. Gatekeepers did not validate a single daily pass at the park, whereas eight were used during the same period last year.  April 14 marked the start of the beach season in Greenwich, which requires proof of residency from beachgoers or the purchase of a daily visitor's pass.

As Memorial Day and the first official day of summer approach, parks officials announced Thursday that they had processed 31,000 resident beach card applications this season and have 1,100 outstanding requests.  "It's still going pretty strong," said June Davila, who the town hired in February to head its beach card office.  Davila estimated it would take her office two weeks to process each new beach card application. To obtain a beach pass and accompanying parking sticker from the town, beachgoers must supply the parks department with proof of residency and a copy of a current vehicle registration showing their car is on the Greenwich tax rolls. One application can be used for all family members.

The town has raised the price of beach cards for those 14 and over, which will be required through mid-November, from $20 to $22. The cards cost $5 for children ages 5 to 13 and are free for seniors and toddlers.  Residents whose vehicles are not registered in town can purchase seasonal parking stickers for $100 each or pay the daily $20 parking rate charged to out-of-towners.

Nonresidents must visit Town Hall or the Greenwich Civic Center to buy daily passes and parking stickers, the cost of which is the same as last year.



Greenwich: Where Candidates Go For Cash;  Residents have already given presidential contenders $1 million 
DAY
By Alison Leigh Cowan , New York Times News Service    
Published on 5/28/2007

 
Greenwich — Sen. John McCain made his pitch to this gilded seaside suburb back in April.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts came on May 7, followed one night later by former President Bill Clinton on behalf of his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Last weekend, it was back-to-back appearances by Sen. Barack Obama topped off on Sunday with a visit from Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor.

With the mansions along its winding back roads now awash in hedge-fund money, Greenwich has joined New York, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley as must stops on the presidential fund-raising tour, with prominent locals now boasting of candidate scuff marks on their basketball courts, Secret Service T-shirts in their closets and framed pictures of their children with the candidates on their mantels. For a town that has wealth and corporate clout to spare, the fund-raisers fill a void: access to a potential White House resident.

“The people I know are absolutely thrilled to have presidential candidates come in because, as you know, Connecticut is somewhat irrelevant in the primary process,” said Adam Wood, a longtime Democratic organizer in Connecticut. “So it's a great opportunity for Connecticut and for Greenwich to have the future president of the United States there.”

As Connecticut's richest town, Greenwich has always held some allure for politicians looking to raise money and make influential friends, but with several of the current presidential contenders wanting to raise upward of $500 million to stay competitive through the general election, the richest of the town's 61,000 residents are being wooed more than ever.

An analysis of campaign filings by The New York Times through March 31 tracked $1.038 million in gifts related to the presidential race from donors with Greenwich ZIP codes. That windfall is roughly two-fifths the $2.56 million kicked in by those same ZIP codes during the entire 2004 presidential race. The preliminary 2007 tally does not capture more than $1 million believed to have been raised since then, as the pace of fund-raising here has intensified.

In one notable break with the past, Greenwich money is increasingly going to Democrats, a reflection of national trends. Of the $1.038 million donated through March, six Democratic candidates shared 54 percent of the pot, and three Republicans claimed 46 percent. Democrats got 45 percent of the $2.56 million raised the last time around, and the incumbent Republican candidate, President Bush, whose father was born here, swept the other 55 percent.

People who are active in politics offer several explanations. With Greenwich's hedge fund industry booming, many of its newest moguls do not have entrenched political allegiances and reflect the larger shift toward Democratic candidates seen elsewhere in Fairfield County. Last year's Senate bid by Ned Lamont, a local Democrat, may also have left the town more fluid than it once was, as some Republicans registered as Democrats for the primary and then switched back.

With so many events to choose from, some well-to-do residents are attending more than one, taking comfort in the fact that donations are generally capped by law at $2,300 for primaries and $2,300 for the general election. “Some people just like to see the candidate and don't mind buying the ticket,” said James Lash, the town's first selectman. “It's like going to the theater.”

For those who can, the protocol becomes clear. Eat first because campaigns can be stingier with the treats than hosts would be if they were paying for the spread. Allison Frantz, for instance, acknowledged that holding the Romney event in her home was “a challenge because it was a really small budget” but said she found ways to be creative, like using cookies in lieu of floral centerpieces. “They're not going for the food,” her friend, Elizabeth Oberbeck, said of the crowd.

Do not expect anything expensive to drink for the same reason. Ooh and aah when the hostess shows you her child's history project that the former president signed or regales you with details about how this politician or that tossed a football with her brood.

“The money is getting younger, so all these people have young kids,” said a frequent guest who requested anonymity because she did not want to offend her hosts. She called the mementos “the newest trophy” for the set that has it all.

“It's cool and impressive to be hosting these things,” the guest said. “It's what do you do when you can have it all and your money can buy you so many things. But to actually have a presidential candidate or former president come to your home and visit with your friends, it's a rare experience, and it's joining the things in Greenwich that are de rigueur about living in the community.”

Harry Clark, a public-policy consultant based in Greenwich who was a co-host for a McCain fund-raiser at the Belle Haven Country Club in April, said, “Everyone on the Republican side is window-shopping, and on the Democratic side, there's tremendous curiosity about Obama.”

A former top aide to Jack Kemp, the former quarterback and Republican politician, Clark was intrigued enough himself to have written a check that entitled him to attend one of Obama's recent “drop-bys,” as the Obama campaign called them.

Judging from what was reported through March, the current leaders of the pack in Greenwich are Romney, with $200,627 on the Republican side, and Sen. Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, with $190,900 on the Democratic side. Close behind are Clinton, a New York Democrat, with $166,550, and Giuliani, a Republican, with $154,350. McCain, an Arizona Republican, raised $124,000, and Obama, an Illinois Democrat, raised $106,000.



NOT-SO-NEW-NEWS FLASH...FIRST SELECTMAN OF GREENWICH 
NOT RE-ELECTED NOVEMBER 6, 2001...BOARD OF SELECTMEN DEMOCRAT MAJORITY;  policy continued next year because...no big influx of non-Greenwich people!  Link HERE to how beaches in separate towns are organized, post-Greenwich ruling...NOTE:  local election of 2003 won by Republicans, new First Selectman in Greenwich, in majority on Board of Selectmen.
  Re-elected in 2005.



Housing authority to take down clotheslines at Quarry Knoll I
Greenwich TIME
Frank MacEachern, Staff Writer
Published: 09:55 p.m., Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The clothesline dispute at Quarry Knoll I may be wrung out.  Residents were notified Wednesday that the handful of clotheslines at the senior citizens complex will be removed Thursday.  Unlike last year when residents opposed the Greenwich Housing Authority removing the clotheslines, this time the residents requested they be taken down, said Anthony Johnson, the housing authority's executive director.

"It was the residents who wanted them down. Joan Yankowski (president of the residents council) came to our board meeting and asked us to take it down," he said. "I think some residents think it is unsightly and dangerous."

According to the notice to Quarry Knoll residents, the vote in favor of removing the clotheslines occurred at a residents' meeting Oct. 27, last year.  Johnson said it only came to the housing authority's notice last week and they acted upon the request.  Yankowski couldn't be reached Wednesday to respond why there was a 10-month gap between the vote and the request to the commissioners.

One resident who agrees with the move is Sandy Stracuzzi, 79, a 13-year resident at Quarry Knoll I.  Pointing to a clothesline near him, one that he rarely used, Stracuzzi said they are unsightly.

"They have not been taken care of and I think they are an eyesore," he said.

He prefers to use a washer and dryer in a community room at the complex.  Controversy erupted last year after a number of residents complained about the housing authority's attempt to remove them.  At the time the authority said they were unsightly and posed a potential threat for a lawsuit. The authority feared someone would go running through the senior complex at night and become entangled in a clothesline.

Clothesline proponents couldn't be reached or declined to comment Wednesday.  The affair attracted national attention as environmentalists said clotheslines help to reduce energy consumption.

George, 71, and Kiruba Lall, 71, said they use an "umbrella" type clothesline behind their unit for items that they don't want to put through a dryer.  Neither of them see the clotheslines as unsightly but said they have no power over whether they should remain.

"This is not my property," Kiruba Lall said. "They (the housing authority) are the landlords they can make any changes they want to."

Quarry Knoll I is a 50-unit complex of bungalows built in 1962 and subsidized through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Adjacent Quarry Knoll II is a 40-unit complex built in 1980 with state financing.  Johnson said Quarry Knoll I is the only one of the public housing complexes in town, including nearby Wilbur Peck and Armstrong Court in the western section of town, that has allowed clotheslines.



Not the law in CT yet...and not close - was this one used as a "mule" to hide some not so nice environmental switcheroo?  Or was that 5991?

General Assembly    
Raised Bill No. 6429
January Session, 2009     
LCO No. 3322  
*03322_______ENV*

Referred to Committee on Environment   

Introduced by: 
(ENV).




CT General Assembly    
Proposed Bill No. 5991 
January Session, 2009     
LCO No. 1828      

Referred to Committee on Energy and Technology    

Introduced by: 
REP. JOHNSON, 49th Dist. 
 
AN ACT CONCERNING THE RIGHT TO DRY.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That the general statutes be amended as follows: (a) For the purposes of this section, "governing body" means any municipality, political subdivision of the state, fire district, sewer district, village, beach or improvement association or any other district or association or any condominium or cooperative association; and "direct solar energy" means direct sunlight or ambient outside air warmed by sunlight.

(b) No governing body may impose an ordinance, regulation or other restriction prohibiting the drying of clothes using direct solar energy through the use of clotheslines, drying racks or other apparatus in any residential setting.

(c) No deed restrictions, covenants, landlord-tenant agreements, private contracts or similar binding agreements running with the land shall prohibit, or have the effect of prohibiting, the drying of clothes using direct solar energy through the use of clotheslines, drying racks or other apparatus in any residential setting, provided such clotheslines, drying racks or other apparatus do not affect public safety, including, but not limited to, hampering access to public buildings or impeding rapid emergency egress.

(d) Notwithstanding subsection (c) of this section, a governing body may prohibit the drying of clothes using direct solar energy through the use of clotheslines, drying racks or other apparatus in any residential setting if (1) nonpermanent alternatives, such as folding racks, would provide the same drying service as permanent installations of clotheslines and supporting structures; (2) functionally equivalent alternate drying facilities, such as indoor drying rooms, are available, provided said facilities do not rely on the use of electricity or fossil fuels specifically for drying; or (3) such prohibitions incorporate aesthetic considerations, provided such restrictions do not substantially interfere with access to direct solar energy for drying purposes.

Statement of Purpose:

To facilitate energy conservation.