Nightime Portsmouth beach parking restriction irks neighbors
Town Administrator Richard Rainer said police will not infringe any person’s right to use the McCorrie Point Beach responsibly. But they just can’t park there after 9 p.m.
PORTSMOUTH — Last Saturday night, the police told Carolann Ferrell she had to move her car from McCorrie Point Beach. She couldn’t be parked there after hours, but she could return by foot, the officer told her, after she moved her car.
A sign at the beach explains why. It cites a town ordinance that prohibits vehicular and pedestrian traffic and parking there from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. McCorrie Point Beach is town-owned property.
But when Ferrell, who lives near the beach, parked on McCorrie Lane — where the officer told her to park her car — a resident complained she couldn’t park there.
Restrictions on residents who wish to access the beach after hours for quiet, lawful activity drew about 20 people to a gathering on the beach Wednesday night for a discussion. Some residents acknowledged that there are problems with litter on the beach and loud music. Some said they accepted the occasional noise and disturbances that come with living close to a beach in a town with teenagers.
“I haven’t called the cops in over a year” for beach disturbances, one woman said.
Portsmouth Police Lt. John Cahoon confirmed that police check the beach area and other town properties every night after 9 p.m. and generally ask people to leave. “We have received numerous complaints from the residents in that area regarding late night traffic arriving at or leaving the beach,” he wrote in an email to The Daily News. “As a result, we are now strictly enforcing the 9 [p.m.] to 6 [a.m.]”
But Cahoon said police do make an exception for some at McCorrie Beach.
“The only exception at McCorrie Beach is for people who own property in certain parts of the surrounding neighborhood,” Cahoon said. ”[H]owever, they are still restricted from having their vehicle on the beach between 9 [p.m.] and 6 [a.m.] Basically, they must walk to the beach if they want to be out there after hours.”
At the beach gathering, some said they believed the beach is exempt from the town ordinance because it’s considered a right-of-way. Some people pointed to deeded rights to after-hours beach access.
The topic is up for discussion at Monday’s Town Council meeting.
Town Administrator Richard Rainer called any characterization of the neighborhood as a deeded rights community “misleading.”
“There were some plots in the neighborhood granted bathing and boating rights by the original owners. This is not universal,” Rainer wrote in a July 2 letter to the Town Council.
“Most plots have no mention of specific ‘beach rights’ in their associated deeds. In fact, the deeds presented to you are typical of most deeds in that the deeds specifically highlight the right to access McCorrie Lane. This was necessary because the road was a private dirt lane at the time most of the deeds were written (and it was the only way in and out of the neighborhood).”
Rainer said the town is sensitive to resident concerns and will not infringe any person’s right to use the beach responsibly.
“We believe the preponderance of the objectional behavior stems from the people driving, parking, fishing, and or partying on the beach late at night,” Rainer wrote. “By enforcing this ordinance, we hope to keep violators off the beach. We allow people who tell us they are residents to remain on the beach but ask them to move their vehicle. We also tell them they can bring the vehicle back down when they’re packing up.”
Rainer said over the past month, complaints about speeding cars, loud music, fires without permits and people urinating or defecating on public and private property in the area “have all but disappeared.” But some residents Wednesday expressed desire for leaner police detail and fewer rules and regulations.
“We just want it the way it was,” resident Chuck Dietz said. “Just leave us alone.”