It is understandable that the Village of Sag Harbor is strictly enforcing its residents-only permit for Havens Beach and not issuing non-resident permits as one way to reduce the daytime beach population, and with it the risk of coronavirus transmission.
However, collateral damage are the people who for decades have used the rear park area to exercise their dogs, as well as themselves.
For the 38-plus years I’ve lived in Sag Harbor, more than half of those years have been in the village itself, the other years right outside — such as now, in Bay Point. Obviously, it was no problem to walk my dogs in the Havens park area when I had a village beach permit, but it was also no problem when I didn’t, because I was not about to park at or use the beach, plus I’d be gone in less than 30 minutes. Attendants simply waved me through, and that had been true of others, too.
Now, however, I am effectively banned from the Havens park area. “It’s because of COVID-19” was the blanket explanation given by the youngsters at the entry booth, who have been unfairly put in an awkward position.
This is a hardship for dog owners who are often older and who don’t want to risk the hazards of busy village streets and may not have any other options for the next two months. And it just doesn’t sit right that we are no longer welcome at a local park.
Again, I completely understand a desire to reduce the virus risk. But it seems like overreach to prohibit dog owners from spending 20 to 25 minutes in the relatively remote park area where we are not 6 feet but 100 feet apart.
There are also local people who are not specifically village residents who like to stroll through the park area, especially now, when beautiful yellow flowers are blooming on the cactus bushes. Let me emphasize that I am not calling the area a “dog park” but a park that traditionally has been open to both people and dogs. The village obviously understands this or it would not erect signs acknowledging it and provide dog-waste bags and a garbage can.
We do not wish to use any beach facilities — picnic tables, bathrooms or the beach itself. Is the “village taxes” distinction really fair?
On this issue, let’s not have COVID-19 divide the local population along village and the rest of 11963 lines. It is a very simple matter to instruct beach attendants to allow users of the rear park area for the 20 to 30 minutes they and their dogs are getting fresh air and exercise away from the summer crowds.
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