By Sabrina Artusa
Nicole, a Miller Place resident, has long frequented Mount Sinai’s Cedar Beach, saying she has often enjoyed visiting this scenic destination with her family. In recent years, however, she has noticed one “really unsettling” trend.
“So much garbage is left behind on the beach,” she said. “It makes me sad.”
Nicole said she and some other locals have grown increasingly agitated with the Town of Brookhaven over a perceived buildup of litter and fishing debris at Cedar Beach, with some even suggesting a lack of code enforcement and security measures.
In the face of these objections, many continue enjoying the beach, according to town official Kevin Molloy, chief of staff in the supervisor’s office.
While Molloy acknowledges that some debris is left on the beach occasionally despite town efforts, he argues that residual garbage is inevitable during heightened summer activity and the “thousands of people” enjoying the beach each week.
“We comb the beach every morning, every day — sometimes multiple times a day, we will remove garbage,” Molloy noted. “We are not seeing anything different compared to past years.”
The beach contains a marina, harbor, yacht club, oyster and clam hatchery, nature preserve, basketball courts and a playground. There is also live music and sunrise yoga.
Given all this activity, Molloy says that the town is attentive to its upkeep responsibilities and that its staff is “continuously cleaning and picking things up.”
He said that the town leads an annual beach cleanup, partnering with local environmental groups before each season. The oyster and clam hatchery also works to improve water quality.
Molloy further emphasized that Brookhaven prides itself on being accessible to anyone who wants to use it as long as they follow town rules.
“There is something for everybody from the little kids with the playground to kayaking to basketball,” he said, adding, “That’s not to say we don’t have a host of rules.”
To access the beach, Brookhaven residents must either possess a $30 annual parking permit or pay hourly parking fees. The cost for seniors (60+), handicapped and veterans per vehicle is just $7 for 2023. Nonresidents can pay hourly for parking or buy the $350 annual parking permit.
Given the general cost of beach access and public resources put toward maintenance, some residents feel that the state of the beach could be better. Nicole, who pays for the permit annually, said the lack of ticketing and security is problematic.
“People are parking and not paying the meter,” she said. “They take complete advantage.”
Nicole argues that the “code needs to be enforced” by penalizing violators in the act instead of simply cleaning up after the damage is done.
She added that she and others are upset by fishermen who don’t clean up after themselves or encroach upon bathing areas.