Stored sailboat removed from Ocean Beach Park
New London ― Frosty depressions on the cold sand of Ocean Beach Park this week were the only indication that a private sailboat once stored at the public beach had been removed – a turn of events elected officials credited to the resident who first raised concerns over the matter.
The City Council on Tuesday was alerted by member John Satti that the Hobie Cat-brand catamaran – its owner has not been identified – was no longer on the stretch of beach across from a miniature golf course where it was regularly stored during the winter months.
Satti’s update came after several minutes of discussion by council members who questioned the fairness and wisdom of allowing a private boat to be moored at the site in the first place.
“The boat should go,” Councilor Jefferey Hart said.
And gone it is.
On Thursday morning, only a few deep divots and footprints in the snow-covered sand indicated the sailboat’s previous resting site. It’s unclear when the boat was removed, though it was seen at its sandy resting spot as recently as last week.
The matter became a topic of discussion in January when resident Franca Polimeni brought the issue to the attention of council members. On Tuesday, Polimeni repeated her concerns and called the decision by beach Manager Dave Sugrue to grant storage permission for the boat “discriminatory.”
“Let’s be realistic,” she said. “Most people who live near Ocean Beach Park have the money to store vessels in a boatyard.”
Polimeni also questioned Sugrue’s assertion he did not know the owner’s name and accused the manager of running the beach “as his backyard.”
Council member Alma D. Nartatez said she was “taken aback” after reading about the boat’s unusual storage spot in a Day article, saying the handshake agreement smacked of “privilege.”
Sugrue earlier this month said the boat’s owner approached him a couple of years ago and asked if he could use the public beach as a “safe harbor” for his catamaran during the winter months to prevent any storm damage to the craft.
Sugrue characterized his willingness to allow the request as a neighborly gesture.
Several council members this week lauded Polimeni’s outspokenness on the issue.
“It took courage,” said Akil Peck, who called the matter a “learning experience” for the city. “Thank you... for doing the right thing.”
Satti, who previously defended Sugrue’s decision, said, in hindsight, allowing the boat storage “may not have been the best idea.”
“But the situation has been corrected,” he said.
Sugrue could not be reached to comment on Thursday.
Council President Efrain Dominguez Jr. said the decision to allow the boat’s storage was “not a good idea” and applauded Polimeni’s civic-mindedness.
“Because of you coming to us, that’s why (the boat’s) been removed,” he said.
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