Letter: Resident fights to keep fence off Woodmont beach

To the Editor:
This is an appeal to Milford and Woodmont residents. Throughout most of this past winter, the New York-based owners of a summer weekend residence at 108 Beach Avenue, with the help of Bridgeport-based Attorney Chuck Willinger, have been petitioning the City of Milford for the right to erect an approximately 100-foot long, 3-foot high fence with "no trespassing" signs declaring as off-limits and private an area that has been for over a century one of the most publicly enjoyed landmarks of the Woodmont waterfront.

Merwin Point, along with the famous Flagpole Rock right next to it, defines the area. The rocks jutting out into the water invite fishermen, children exploring tide-pools, dog-walkers, strollers, couples enjoying the sunset.

It's been open to the public since the 1890s.

But now, citing a dubious claim to "ownership" of this portion of the coast, the owners of 108 Beach Avenue (across the street from the Point) want to fence us out. So they've dubbed the Point something called "Parcel 2," a half-acre waterfront parcel that does not exist on the Milford Land Records, and for which they have never paid taxes, and have pressed their "right" to keep others out.

Their chief complaint: what they term (with rhetoric that Donald Trump would love) an "invasion" on summer weekends of fishermen and their families, largely immigrants quite frankly fishing for food. Who wants the view cluttered on a summer weekend, right?

They have supporters. Democratic Alderman Phil Vetro showed up before the Zoning Board of Appeals to support their desire to privatize the beach. So too did Woodmont Borough Warden Ed Bonessi, who wrote a letter to the ZBA expressing what he later stated was his "personal" support even though he wrote the letter on Borough of Woodmont letterhead and signed it as Borough Warden.

To his credit, Republican Alderman Dan German, who lives two houses down from 108 Beach Avenue, has stood out as the only politician willing to speak in favor of continued public access to this beautiful and dramatic section of the shore.

Denied by the ZBA in their desire to put some 8 "No Trespassing" signs all over the Point itself, the petitioner, through their lawyer, pressed the city to grant them the right to fence off the coastline, which the city did.

On Tuesday March 8, at 7 p.m. at City Hall, I'm appealing to the commissioners of Milford's Zoning Board of Appeals to see the error in that decision. I hope those who value our coastline will come and speak. Milford fathers, in their wisdom, established for us a continuous public right of way along the ocean over a century ago. Today it still is what makes Woodmont a one-of-a-kind place.

Don't let today's lackluster leaders give away that legacy, turning the public coast over to private hands, and turning our much wiser forebears over in their graves. Once this fence goes up, there will be no more prom pictures, no more weddings, no more sitting on the rocks watching the sunset. Please speak out. Please fight the fence. I can be reached at williamjohncoleman2014@gmail.com or at 203 275 6416 or by coming to the ZBA hearing on Tuesday, March 8th.

Bill Coleman