2007-04-05 / News

Beachfront home is a summertime nightmare

By Sam Bari

Bob Vickers stands beside a nest of fishing line, debris and garbage left by late night anglers at the back of his property on Seaside Drive. Photo by Sam Bari Bob Vickers stands beside a nest of fishing line, debris and garbage left by late night anglers at the back of his property on Seaside Drive. Photo by Sam Bari Bob Vickers is tired of removing trash and cleaning up after fishermen who dispose of everything from nests of tangled fishing line to soiled baby diapers on his Seaside Drive property.

Vicker's home is the first house north of the Jamestown Bridge. In 1992, he and his wife moved in and have since had a daughter. "Every summer has been a nightmare, particularly on the weekends," Vickers said. "All week long fishermen come down through the cleared right-of-way by the bridge and fish on the shore. But they don't stay by the bridge. They walk the shoreline to the back of my property, then walk up the path and onto my land, which is well above the high water mark. Here, they leave their trash. This goes on all week long, and it's three times as bad on weekends. Since the old bridge has been torn down and the brush is cleared away, they have easier access to my land. The trash is an eyesore, attracts vermin, and it smells," he added.

Over the years, Vickers has had property stolen and fishermen have used his lawn furniture as if it were theirs. They have left empty and broken beer bottles and other debris, and he constantly has to clean up the mess after they throw parties at his expense. He said that they are occasionally noisy and stay all night long.

When asked if he ever tried to establish dialogue with the offenders, he said "yes." He also said that language was often a problem, because most of them don't speak English. Occasionally he found someone who seemed to understand what he was saying. He said that they were polite and appeared to listen. "When I told them that they are leaving a mess and that I have to constantly clean up after them, one of the men said he would tell everybody, but the next morning nothing had changed. It was worse than the night before." he said.

Vickers said that on one occasion his wife walked down the path on his property that goes to the water, and found a man defecating at the side of the walkway. "She hasn't gone down there by herself in the evening since," he said.

He said that he hasn't called the police about the problem in some time. "There isn't much they can do unless they catch them littering and trespassing. As soon as a patrol car arrives, they'll just move a few feet down to the shore. It's a very difficult situation," he said.

He also said that he believes that the ocean and shoreline should be accessible to everybody, but he doesn't believe that people who own seaside property should be victimized by those who abuse the privilege.

Vickers is not the only property owner with a problem in that area. He said that the owner of the first house south of the bridge suffered from the same fate. The owners of that house are summer residents and were not available for comment.

According to Police Lieutenant William Donovan, this is not an isolated problem. To improve the situation at the town-owned wooden pier at East Ferry, additional trash receptacles have been put in place and the restrooms at the Community Center have been opened around the clock. The police have also put extra patrols in the area. However, "they can't camp out at everybody's house that has a problem and hope to catch some off island fisherman trespassing or littering," Donovan said. "When the problem becomes untenable, people should call and let us know," the lieutenant added. "I'm going to call Mr. Vickers in the next few days and talk to him to see if we can help him. He's right. Nobody should have to be victimized by people who are inconsiderate. Trespassing is against the law and should be dealt with appropriately. We get calls from people all over the island about this problem, but when it's after the fact, there isn't much we can do, especially after the perpetrators have left the area. If residents see people behaving irresponsibly, they should call us so we can take appropriate action," Donovan said.

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