Some tough days at the Naples Town Beach

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — The Naples recreation director has been called a “Nazi” and the “Gestapo.” He has heard phrases like “I pay taxes in this town,” and “I don’t have to listen to you.”

No, those are not words fly into the air during a baseball game or while he is refereeing a youth football game.

They are some of the words he has heard while stepping into the role of enforcing the rules at the Naples Town Beach.

According to Naples Recreation Director Harvey Price, one of his duties this summer includes trying to make sure people are following the posted rules.

The beach “is a family environment. I don’t take my kids down there to hear someone swear and smoke,” Price said.

“People are drinking (alcohol) and smoking and jumping off the dock,” Price said.

“Smoking has been a huge issue. Vandalism — three of the five bathroom toilets have been broken. The lights have been broken,” he said.

Last summer, caretakers resided at the beach and were not only responsible for some janitorial duties, but also with reminding people of the posted rules. This summer, those people bowed out of the unpaid job after someone purchased their camper. Price said he has spent 10 to 15 hours a week enforcing the rules and responding to complaints.

“It’s anytime. I’ve kicked people out at 11 at night. I’ve kicked someone out at 9 a.m. for drinking,” Price said.

He came to work one morning and from that previous night, there were half-dozen complaints about activities on the town beach.

“It fell on me being the person who is in charge of the facility. If not, it would be free-for-all,” he said.

Often, Price tells people that he does not make the rules, and that the rules are posted.

Consuming alcohol in a public place that is not licensed for drinking is against state law. A town ordinance prohibits smoking on the premises.

There are also some parking rules. Six parking spaces are set aside for trucks with boat trailers.

“There are six boat spots: That is really the only place that people can park their boat trailers. If I park my truck in one of those spots, now there is no place for them to park,” he said.

It creates a bottleneck for the people trying to use the public boat launch, he said.

Also, in the ordinance: the beach is only for use by Naples residents and their families, and guests accompanying them.

“In order to be a legal guest, it is really tricky to prove. They need to be with the resident or taxpayer,” he said.

To prove someone is a resident of Naples, they must display in the vehicle windshield a sticker for the Casco-Naples Transfer Site, he explained.

During a 10-day period that occurred from mid to late July, there were 24 vehicles without a dump sticker. There were five or six nonresidents who were asked to leave. A few of those people said they would park across the street and walk to the beach.

A few years ago, at Naples Town Meeting, citizens decided to enforce the rule that stated only residents could use the town beach.

“If you look at the old beach sign that has always been the rule. But, it is something new that we are really enforcing it. When the town purchased (Kent’s Landing) for $75,000 and built the facility, the people decided that,” he said.

However, being a Naples’ taxpayer does not excuse people from following the rules, Price said.

“I don’t enjoy telling people what the rules are, or kicking them off the beach,” he said.

Another less obvious rule: Toddlers and babies must have a swim diaper on.

Price said it was no fun to tell a father and his three children to leave because the toddler was wearing a dirty diaper; and the dad didn’t have a supply of diapers designed for swimming for his youngest child.

That rule helps to protect the water quality; and prevents the spread of E Coli which, if found in the water, could result in the closure of the popular swim spot, Price said.

“Since then I have purchased a box of swim diapers so that I don’t have kick someone off the beach for that,” he said.

“There was a young man that I threw out because he had jumped off the dock with his bike,” he said.

One day, Price had a conversation with the boy and his friends about jumping off the public dock or riding their bikes off the dock. Price explained that repeating that activity would get them kicked out.

“Fifteen minutes later, there he was riding the bicycle down the hill and off the dock,” he said.

While the bicycle whizzed by, Price was talking with some parents.

“They were flabbergasted with how rude he was,” he said.

Adults are equally impolite.

“One man asked me who I was to be harassing him. I said I was the recreation director. He asked why I was yelling at him. I said that was because he was 150 feet away from me, jumping off the dock. Then, he said there are signs telling him what not to do, and he did not need me for that,” Price said.

“A lot of people say, ‘I pay my taxes here so I can do anything I want to here,’ ” he said.

“There are a lot of people who pay their taxes, and want to enjoy it as a fun, family beach. Who wants to feel uncomfortable because of people breaking the rules?” Price said.

Meanwhile, Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine has been trying to negotiate next summer’s caretakers for the town beach.

The perks will include a place to moor a boat and park a camper for the summer and a waterfront view. But, the less appealing part of the gig — the responses of some people when it comes to being asked to follow the town beach rules.

 

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