Bayview Beach residents rally over news that beach will close July 4th
Bayview Beach has been a hub of activity on the Fourth of July for about 36 years: Neighbors organize a parade and march through the streets during the day, and in the evening, thousands of people gather at the beachside homes of friends to watch fireworks light the sky over the beach.
This year may be different; or it may not be.
Efforts to eliminate illegal fireworks from the beach may mean residents won’t have the access they’re used to having at Bayview Beach late in the evening.
About 50 Bayview Beach residents rallied Friday on a small green near the shore to protest efforts by the beach association to lock the gates at 8 p.m., and have two police officers stationed to make sure people don’t access the beach area.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, as the association appears to be split on how far they should go to try to keep illegal fireworks off the beach.
Last year, someone got hit by an illegal firework, suffered serious burns, and is suing the beach association.
Board members took steps this year to try to stem the lawsuit, and prevent more injuries, by posting signs that the beach would be closed in the evening.
Then the board decided to hire two police officers to monitor the area to keep people out.
“We’re just trying to protect people from being injured,” said Joseph Gullo, an association member.
Gullo, however, said the board may have gone too far in trying to hire police officers to monitor the beach. He thinks posting signs that the beach would be closed and that fireworks would not be allowed was enough to relieve the association of liability.
Hiring police “was a little farther than I wanted to go,” he said.
Still, the association’s intent “is to prevent injuries,” Gullo said.
Jeff Agid, a Bayview Beach resident, organized Friday’s rally because he thinks the board should have checked with the more than 300 homeowners before making such a major decision.
About 50 homeowners supported his position at Friday’s rally.
“The annual celebration of our independence has become the most exciting and most anticipated event of the year in our community,” Agid wrote in a flyer he passed out to neighbors. “The board thinks we should have a parade, then go home.”
He said closing the beach will lead to confrontations on the Fourth of July.
So while Agid hopes the beach stays open, and is upset the board voted to close it, he said the real purpose of the rally was to tell the board members they have to communicate better with residents before making decisions that affect them all.
It's unclear exactly what will happen on July 4 at Bayview. After Friday’s rally, Gullo said he believes a police officer will be on hand July 4 just to make sure no illegal fireworks are ignited on the beach.
While he understood neighbors’ concerns, Gullo said residents are welcome to share their opinions with the association members. He also pointed out that the board, for many years, has helped Bayview Beach maintain the character it still has today.
“The integrity has been maintained because the board didn’t allow too many things to go wrong,” Gullo said.