BORDER CRISIS: Seaview ‘Safety Program’ Sparks Controversy Among its Fire Island Neighbors

By Isabella Braddish ~ The implementation of Seaview’s new safety program has led to commotion among residents of both Seaview and Ocean Beach, as many are left to wonder what prompted this sudden decision and how it will be carried out effectively in the upcoming summer months.“After careful consideration for the health and safety created by the dramatic increase in golf carts being driven on our walks, the Board of Directors of the Seaview Association has decided to create a permit process for any cart being driven through Seaview by contractors and essential service providers, effective May 28th,” reads a published notice on Seaview Association letterhead dated May 12, 2021.What the letter did not mention were the barricades placed along walkways connecting Seaview to Ocean Beach and Ocean Bay Park.“More and more residents have been purchasing electric and gas carts with no regard for stop signs, pedestrians and even children walking to and fro,” said Seaview Association President Thomas Ruskin when commenting to this publication. “Walkways are approximately 8 feet wide. With most carts being 5 or 6 feet wide, pedestrians are left with little to no room on walkways.”However the notice, along with the barricades, sparked immediate outrage.Comment threads on social media outlets lit up as residents voiced opinions on the new safety protocols. Some questioned the legality of the situation, while others stressed the reciprocal and often dependent relationship Seaview has to its neighboring communities both east and west. Many see these new barriers of entry as completely contrary to the Fire Island way of life and mentality.“I was amazed to see a blockade at Midway and Surfview, as well as Surfview and the Bay. How unfriendly and how unneighborly can you get?” wrote Judy Klein Steinman on the private Facebook page known as the Ocean Beach Bulletin Board. Judy lives on the Ocean Beach/Seaview border on Surfview Walk.“Ridiculous!! Perhaps we should think twice about Seaview residents patronizing our restaurants and stores,” said Melissa Caporaso Reiersen in the same thread. “Not to mention letting their kids take part in our camp! Their summers would be really boring without access to all the amenities Ocean Beach has to offer!!”Another commenter who goes by the handle of Jason Elias Dyrland even went as far to suggest that calling the Town of Islip might be an effective solution: “Call Town of Islip. What they are doing is totally illegal and will be dealt with in time. No way this lasts the summer.”However, Ruskin sees it differently.“Seaview walkways are owned, maintained and funded by the residents of Seaview out of the Association fund,” he said. “As you come into our community, it very clearly states these walks are privately owned and funded by residents,” and he further insists that this action is in response to “homeowners [who] have started to complain about the over abundance of golf carts and motorized vehicles coming into and through Seaview.”While Ocean Bay Park resident and contributor to this publication Barbara Placilla concedes that there are brass plaques that bear a no trespassing warning embedded in the Seaview walkways saying that the streets are private property, and also agrees that there are certainly fast drivers on the streets, “Does that mean every time we go into Seaview we are trespassing?” she asked. “This has a negative impact on property values in Ocean Bay Park. It makes us look undesirable.”Concerns have also arisen specifically with regard to the residents with documented medical need to use motorized transportation and how this will affect them. The Seaview Association letter states these types of carts will be registered in the permit system with no additional charge.“Seaview is not looking to restrict the valuable contractors we rely on and who rely on us for their income,” Rusken added. “Ultimately, it is not the contractors who are driving recklessly. The contractors have been very supportive and understanding of our policy. Safety is the paramount responsibility for the stewardship of a community. The Seaview Association takes this responsibility very, very seriously.”