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North Shore Beach Property Owners Association

The yellow gate to the right is owned by the North Shore Beach Properties Owners Association, and is only accessible to members. The ramp to the left is owned by Brookhaven Town, and can be accessed by town residents. The confusion this creates has often led to confrontations between overzelous security and residents. Photo by Kyle Barr

One of the perks of living on Long Island’s North Shore is access to miles of beachfront, though some Rocky Point residents have said that enjoyment has been cut short well before sandals touch sand. Part of the confusion revolves around the complexity of who has access to the many miles of beachfront property.

The area before the mean high tide line is owned by the NSBPOA. Photo by Kyle Barr

Several residents have lately been making complaints on social media about security personnel at the beach ramp on Hallock Landing, a portion of which along with the majority of that beach is owned and operated by the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association. People on social media have complained of being yelled at, physically confronted and not being told or shown the correct access for Brookhaven town residents versus members of the NSBPOA. Some residents have rallied that overzealous security have made accessing the beach via the public ramp an issue. 

Residents have sent complaints to the association, Brookhaven town representatives as well as Suffolk County Police. Many complaints lacked video or picture evidence to confirm what exactly happened in these instances, though many residents say previous complaints about security have gone unheeded for the past few years. 

And as the hotter weather rolled in while pandemic restrictions were released, more and more people have sought to cool their heels in the Long Island Sound during the past few holidays and weekends. The issues were only exacerbated by more out-of-town people looking to use the beachfront after restrictions were lifted allowing Brookhaven residents to use the beach.  

Michael Gorton, a past president and current treasurer of the NSBPOA, said the association created a Security Review Board after the board received a complaint about security in June, which the board found “was unfounded and verified by witnesses that accusations were false,” he stated in an email.

According to a statement by the property owners association, the review board has “been made aware of all situations regarding complaints at Hallock Landing,” and has since acted and made changes to security protocol, though a request for clarification on what those changes was not responded to by press time. The association’s board decided to increase security at the location this year.  

“In the emails or phone calls directed to members of the board or to the association, the board took these complaints seriously,” the statement read. “Allegations or complaints from Facebook [posts] will be ignored and we will not address any of them. This has been the policy for years whether they are from last year or this year.”  

Complaints have centered around two volunteers who belong to the association, husband and wife Tom and Leah Buttacavoli, who were acting as volunteer security at the beach’s edge alongside another security guard. The third guard’s name could not be confirmed by official sources, though NSBPOA released a statement saying he is an ex-NYPD officer and a licensed security guard. Guards, the statement says, do not carry tasers but the one hired guard does carry pepper spray to be used in self-defense. Many residents have complained online of that guard’s overzealous nature in maintaining the beach’s private status, including alleged instances of threatening to pepper spray individuals on the beach during Fourth of July or running along the beach in the morning. 

Though police have been called to the location, requests for comment to the SCPD were not responded to by press time.

The stairs leading down to the beach is accessible by all Town of Brookhaven residents. The water outflow pipe is also owned by the town. Photo by Kyle Barr

Thomas Buttacavoli did not respond to requests for comment via Facebook, though in June in posts to a community Facebook group he denied several claims he was the instigator of an issue with a group of young people at the entrance, saying he had been accosted by the individuals and that police responded and had concurred with his assessment of the situation.

The Town of Brookhaven and police have received numerous complaints of people coming from as far as New York City to come to private beaches on the North Shore, including areas around Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai and Rocky Point, according to several local officials. The town has hired its own private security guard to check for Brookhaven residents along its right of ways, including its access ramp next to the association-owned access.

Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said she has spoken to the NSBPOA about the security issues. The town-hired guard only checks for some kind of proof of town residency, which could be anything from a driver’s license to a library card. Those residents are allowed up to the mean high tide mark, which is considered public property. Bonner said residents cannot be restricted from accessing that space using a town ramp.

“We have easement agreements with all private associations, this instance at Hallock Landing, that is town property, that is our right of way, and we have permission to use their property for our stormwater infrastructure,” Bonner said. “Hallock Landing is a public access site, and [residents] have been restricted where they shouldn’t have been.” 

As an entity, the NSBPOA owns the ramps at three separate locations in Rocky Point, some parts of the roads leading up to the beaches and the clubhouse located right off of Lincoln Drive. The association is very private about its membership as well as the people on its board. The names of trustees are not publicly available on the website. 

Part of the Hallock Landing area before the ramps down to the beach is privately owned by the association, and one of the ramps is only accessible by members. The area that is part of the stormwater runoff pipes is owned by Brookhaven and is a town right of way. The private portion goes from the western-most part of the yellow gate to points north and east, as well as the rain garden and parking spaces right of the ramp. 

“We have the right to prohibit access to our property to non-dues-paying members at the yellow gate that is in front of the ramp, due north and east of it,” the NSBPOA statement reads. “Public access can only be attained via the town right of way.” 

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Broadway Beach in Rocky Point still shows major storm damage. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town of Brookhaven highway officials are completing the final FEMA-funded project to shore-up Brookhaven shoreline following Hurricane Sandy, the storm that wrecked Long Island’s coastline nearly 7½ years ago.

At its Dec. 5 meeting, the Town Board voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association to go in and add a new stone revetment and bulk heading to halt erosion, but also adding an interceptor unit at the end of Broadway in Rocky Point, one that town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said will treat runoff for sediment and organic material before it outfalls into Long Island Sound. The project is expected to start early in 2020 and finish by Memorial Day. Losquadro said he doesn’t expect any major difficulties in construction.

“The storm presented an opportunity — building it stronger so it doesn’t get damaged later,” he said.

While the town only got federal approval for the project last year, the costs comes in at about $1.2 million, with 90 percent being taken up by Federal Emergency Management Agency funds secured in part, Losquadro said, by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1). The last 10 percent, or $120,000, comes from the town’s highway budget as a capital project.

The interceptor unit is a large concrete drum that will lie somewhere under the road.

Losquadro said the town has been involved with 10 other Sandy-related projects on the North Shore since the storm hit, which not only look to repair storm damage but help prevent future injury to the shoreline. The town has spent around $12 million in FEMA and their own funds with these construction projects, he said.

Many of the roads lying nearest to the shore are named some combination of “gully” and “landing,” with many of these streets being low-lying areas where water naturally congregates. Where once they were dirt and gravel, paving them has led to drainage complications. Much of the land is privately owned, such as the case of the end of Broadway and the connected beachfront. 

“There’s been a number of homeowner associations we’ve had to work with,” the highway superintendent said. “A lot of these drainage easements go through private properties.”

A representative of the NSBPOA did not return calls for comment from their clubhouse.

Resident trying to repair cracked bulkhead calls fee "highway robbery"

Rocky Point resident Susan McCormick lives along Culross Drive beach. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Things are rocky between the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association and surrounding residents.

Locals from the close-knit beach community of Culross Drive in Rocky Point are voicing their frustrations over what they call an egregious hike in fees and membership requirements put in place by board members of the private beach association in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

According to residents, the association has been charging homeowners who live on the bluff up to $3,800, and now possibly more, just to gain access to their beach. If a Culross Drive resident has a bulkhead in need of repair, the fee is for vehicles to drive a few hundred feet over the association’s private beach in order to reach Culross Beach homes.

Rocky Point resident Susan McCormick, who lives on Culross Drive beach, is having issues with a fee from the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association to access a cracked bulkhead for repair. Photo by Kevin Redding

There is no other way for the machinery to enter Culross Beach, residents said, and in the past all who needed access through the association’s property were charged with a performance bond of about $250 and asked that the contractor include the association on their construction insurance policy in case any damage to their beach occurred.

The North Shore Beach Property Owners Association so far has not provided an explanation to residents as to why the fee was raised so high, despite numerous attempts to get answers by email and phone.

The group did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Only members can log onto the website in order to read the constitution and by-laws.

While repairs to bulkheads are usually few and far between — as most are projected to last several decades — bulkhead maintenance is crucial for those who live in the beach side community, according to Susan McCormick, a Culross Drive resident since 1981.

“We are religious about it here,” McCormick said. “Every single one of us, at some point in time, have needed bulkhead repairs. If you don’t maintain it, all of the sand slides down, the bulkhead could disappear and then the sand would  just creep onto the next property. Once all that slides down, the top of your property is going to go. It’s cost me a fortune over the last few years — after the two hurricanes — to repair.”

McCormick, 66, the co-owner of School of Fish Swim and Scuba in Rocky Point, said she first heard of the hiked-up fee about a month ago when she pursued the replacement of a cracked piling on her bulkhead.

“It’s cruel and they don’t need this money. I can’t imagine what they’re even using it for or what their excuse is for doing it.”

— Susan McCormick

After a neighbor informed her of the $3,800 charge just to get the repair equipment over to her property, she called the association. She didn’t receive a response, and proceeded to contact members of local government, including Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), and a representative from the Environmental Conservation Office in Stony Brook.

While she said those in Brookhaven have been sympathetic and supportive of her concerns, McCormick was told there was nothing the town could do about it because the beach belonging to the association is private property.

She said the association did not waive the fee, even for a neighbor whose house was and still is in danger of sliding down the bluff due to severe damage from Hurricane Sandy.

“It’s wrong what the North Shore Beach Association is doing and I’m not giving up,” McCormick said of her determination to speak with someone on the association’s board. “I would never do to another person what they’re doing. It’s cruel and they don’t need this money. I can’t imagine what they’re even using it for or what their excuse is for doing it. We’re not doing any damage to their little section of beach. This is what I call highway robbery — they’re making money from people’s misfortunes.”

Pete Falcetta, president of the private Culross Corporation said McCormick is doing the right thing.

“[She’s] trying to make an emergency repair the proper way by stopping the bleeding, and yet she’s being forced to pay this exorbitant fee that’s more than the original repair,” he said.

Mickey Wolcson, one of McCormick’s neighbors who has lived on Culross Drive for 11 years, said he’s long thought about filing a lawsuit against the association ever since he became the first and last person to pay the $3,800 charge two years ago. His house and bluff plantings were in danger of sliding down, so he needed to make the urgent repair. He said he was flabbergasted when he discovered how much it would cost.

Rocky Point resident Susan McCormick’s cracked bulkhead. Photo by Kevin Redding

According to Wolcson, the association also pushed a 10-year membership on him in order to maintain his bulkhead. When he called and finally reached someone on the board at the time, he said he received no sympathy.

Recalling the conversation, Wolcson said when he informed the board member he didn’t want the 10-year membership, explaining that he had his own beach, he was told, “that’s the only way that this can happen.”

“They’re forcing you to become a member even when you don’t want to be one,” Wolcson said. “There’s no justification in this. I think it’s just pure greed. I don’t think they want more members, they want more money. Are they running on a deficit? Why are they stealing money from their neighbors?”

Losquadro called the access charge “excessive and unwarranted” in an email.

“I have been contacted many times about this issue and the sentiment is always the same; the association is just punishing the very neighbors they are purportedly protecting,” Losquadro stated.

Bonner said she is also continually contacted by people losing bulkheads and running the risk of losing their homes because of the charge.

“One of the nice things about Rocky Point is that it’s a very cohesive community and everyone works very well together, except in this instance, and it’s very disappointing,” the councilwoman said. “It’s just not neighborly and is an instance where some compassion and kindness would go a very long way, especially when you’re talking about people that run the very real risk of losing their house.”

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By Kevin Redding

The North Shore Beach Clubhouse became a young girl’s paradise.

On July 23, the historic Rocky Point clubhouse hosted the 6th annual Dollie & Me Tea Party, where girls were encouraged to bring their favorite dolls for a day of dress up, filled with snacks, raffles, prizes and more.

Presented by the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association, and organized by longtime club member Maureen O’Keefe, the two-hour fundraising event brought moms and daughters, and aunts and nieces, together to help girls form new friendships, and even provided medical tables for treating and taking care of the dolls as part of its “dollie hospital” theme.

In the large, spacious room of the clubhouse, the girls rotated between different stations like the “medical” area, a hair and makeover spot for dressing up their dolls, and another to get their own nails polished by adult volunteers. Rows of dining tables served tea and bagels. At the end of the event, O’Keefe raffled off prizes, which ranged from her homemade doll accessories to store-bought craft kits.

She decided to get the event going when her grandnieces were young, and obsessed with American Girl dolls. With a knack for sewing, O’Keefe saw an opportunity to give girls something to look forward to every year.

“They learn how to care for their dolls and for one another.”

—Rory Rubino

Even though the $10 admission for each adult and child will go toward the organization — which holds several fundraising events every year — and clubhouse maintenance, she says that the children’s events are more about goodwill. By bringing all the parents and children together, there’s a strong feeling of community cohesiveness.

“Everyone has a ball,” she said. “The girls just love getting their nails done, their hair done; getting the attention. You know, girls will be girls. And you’d never know that a lot of them didn’t know each other before today. In an event like this, we probably average 500 dollars. All the food is donated, and the [money from the] doll clothes we sell will be given to VFW.”

Rory Rubino, an auxiliary officer for the association, thinks the event will be a “wonderful childhood memory” for the girls — one they’ll always remember.

“They learn how to care for their dolls and for one another,” Rubino said. “They learn how to get along and make friends. It’s a lot of work, but we do it for the children. These are the events that really glue everybody together.”

O’Keefe plans to continue the event for as long as possible, but recognizes that she herself won’t be able to run it forever. Once she and the association ages out, O’Keefe said that she’d love for some of the younger parents and families to take it over.

Colleen Tornabe, whose 5-year-old niece was one of the doll-carrying girls in attendance, was in awe of the event overall.

“This is the first time I’ve come here, and it’s wonderful,” she said, excitedly. “It’s a great idea for young girls to just get together and have fun, enjoy each other’s company, and meet some new friends. I think it’s great.”