Whether or not to lock up Diamond Point Beach when no lifeguards on duty — an action taken recently by the lake George Town Board to ward off potential lawsuits — has angered local residents, who say they are being discriminated against and that the town board is misinterpreting state law.
Off-hour access to Diamond Point Beach was restored Tuesday July 10 about 12 hours after a heated confrontation occurred between the board and Lake George citizens angry over a gate that has been locked in recent weeks during evening and early morning hours.
For about a month, the town has padlocked a gate to the Diamond Point Beach prior to 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. daily, citing that state Health Department rules — and the town’s insurance company — required access to be restricted.
Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said Wednesday July 11 that access was restored Tuesday after town board members had conversations with representatives of both the Health Department and the town’s insurance underwriter.
“We had been put on notice we were in violation of Health Department regulations, and we needed to resolve the issues,” he said. “The town board never wanted to close down the beaches — we are most interested in opening access wherever possible to our public facilities.”
Diamond Point residents had angrily criticized the lockdown at the Monday meeting, sparring with town officials. One woman wept as she voiced her objections.
Tuesday morning, the gate had been removed, and town Buildings & Grounds supervisor Jim Martino reported the gate as stolen — but another town employee had removed it for repairs, Dickinson said.
Monday evening at the board meeting, Diamond Point residents, including Ann McGarry, said the board was misinterpreting state regulations, and their beach was being singled out in the lockdown.
“We are outraged,” McGarry said, noting that dozens of other beaches both in the town and elsewhere in the region weren’t gated and locked after hours. “This is discriminatory, illegal, and can’t continue.”
She said a state Health Department official assured her that all that was required to protect the town’s off-hours liability was a sign prohibiting after-hours swimming — an opinion that was apparently conveyed to the board members on Tuesday.
Town Board member Fran Heinrich, however, said Monday that an unlocked beach meant the town was exposing itself to lawsuits if someone got hurt or drowned after hours.
Local resident Vinny Kostolni said at the meeting that if someone got hurt on the waterfront behind the locked gates, the town might face even greater liability.
Diamond Point resident Shelby Cromwell said that the beach and park were established by the town to prevent the super-rich summer residents from privatizing all the lake’s beachfront and excluding the local citizens.
“This was originally set up for the people who don’t live on Millionaire’s Row — you’re discriminating against year-round residents,” she said.
Heinrich said the board had received complaints that people were drinking there after hours, jumping off buildings, and vandalizing property there.
Cromwell said that that the problems with illegal behavior and vandalism were due to non-residents who weren’t allowed on the beach anyway — and they’d merely jump the fence if necessary to get in.
McGarry said the town should enforce their “residents only” rule, and check identification, particularly on the busy times.
McGarry said that there shouldn’t be any time restriction, as the property was deeded to the townspeople as a park, which should be open to the public.
“This beach was given to the people of Lake George, and not to the town, board, and we want it back,” she said.
Resident Carol Tanner said she’d lived at Diamond Point for 37 years, and her family members and other local residents enjoyed kayaking, fishing and meditating at the beach during early morning and evening hours.
Diamond Point resident Jen Matteo said she had bought her property because of the waterfront access. She said her family members enjoyed going to the beach in the morning, drink coffee, and watch the boats and enjoy the scenery.
Board member Marisa Muratori said she supported open access for the residents.
“This situation is absolutely unacceptable,” Muratori said, “I am deeply troubled this is happening — We should take the gate down.”
Whether or not to lock up Diamond Point Beach when no lifeguards on duty — an action taken recently by the lake George Town Board to ward off potential lawsuits — has angered local residents, who said they were being discriminated against and that the town board was misinterpreting state law. A showdown between local citizens and the town board was resolved Tuesday as open access was restored.
Photo by Thom Randall