The Ferry Landing Beach road will reopen this weekend, after the North Hudson Village Board adopted updates to its municipal code on parks and beaches at a special meeting on July 23.
Village President Stan Wekkin closed it at the beginning of July, citing safety and staffing concerns. Wekkin said the demand for the park exceeds its capacity, and the village has had problems with ordinance compliance and threats.
The issue stems to complaints about users on the water, many connected to a group of jet skiers that are on the water most weekends.
Several residents who live near Ferry Landing spoke to the village board at its regular meeting on July 2 about the issue. The residents expressed concern about safety for families and possible property damage, as well as noise.
Many residents told the board at the July 23 meeting that they were upset by the closure, and did not see the need to close it or the stated safety concerns. Two Facebook groups to reopen Ferry Landing were made, with citizens posting concerns and frustrations.
Laura Brown said she tried to access the beach and was met with a locked gate with no explanation. Brown said she has a physical disability and needed access to the handicap parking spot closest to the beach. When she tried to walk down the hill, she slipped.
The American with Disabilities Act requires roads, parkways and beaches must be accessible to persons with a disability, Brown said. The closure of the beach restricted her rights to the public beach, she said.
Brown said the code says the president and trustees have the power of police officers. She said she found no record of a meeting for the board to hear complaints and take action to close.
Andrew Hessler said he'd like to see the launch reopened as soon as possible. While he said the jet skiers have abused their right to be on the river, he said the board has also abused its power by closing Ferry Landing.
He said he has not been able to find any police reports about the threats, and that they can't be true.
Margaret Harris said the three-week closure is a long time in short summers. She questioned the reasonings given for the closure, including the threats and capacity.
"I don't believe having a busy access point is justification to slap up a sign and call it safety," she said. The concerns expressed about the jet skiers have nothing to do with where they launched their crafts, Harris said.
Any improvements to ordinances should be made while the gates remain open for tax paying residents, she added.
The updates approved at the July 23 meeting prohibit the fueling of any watercraft or motorized vehicle within Ferry Landing Park, watercraft parking on that portion of the shoreline, anchoring of watercraft stands on the shore or in the water adjacent to the shore, use of vehicles and parking on the pedestrian mall and placement of chairs or similar items on the pedestrian mall. Loading and unloading of watercraft is limited to 15 minutes.
Wekkin said the wording closes loopholes that the village has been informed of, and makes the code more enforceable.
"I want the boat launch open as much as anyone here," he said. Village Attorney Paul Mahler said the amendments are not designed to prohibit any one type of user.
Village Trustee Cathy Leaf asked Police Chief Mark Richert about the enforceability of the changes. Richert said the 15-minute limit will be difficult to enforce unless an officer is sitting in the area. Like with other things, if someone makes a complaint, police can respond using the information provided, he said.
Trustee Tim Zais said it's important that the public safety committee discusses enforcement at its next meeting.
Leaf also asked for clarification of language on closing the gate "by order of the Village Board by line of succession."
Mahler explained the line of succession only kicks in in an emergency, under certain conditions defined in a different ordinance, such as a flood or tornado.
"You don't have time to round up the board, if you have a situation like that," he said.
The two ordinances to amend the codes were passed. The ordinances can be found on the North Hudson Village website.