A cabal of Goose Rocks Beach homeowners is suing the town of Kennebunkport, claiming that they own the actual beach down to the low water mark. The Hangover’s first inclination is to consider this class warfare, a case of the “have’s” versus the “have not’s.” However, this cannot be the case, as the nature of the suit clearly indicates that these homeowners have no class at all. Still, as a public service The Hangover has decided to explore the nature of the impending litigation.
Newspaper reports state that the fat cat homeowners are primarily concerned with overcrowding at Goose Rocks. This is odd. There are a limited number of parking spaces at Goose Rocks, thereby limiting the number of visitors who can actually reach the beach. In middle of the summer, the designated “public beach” is not ever close to being overrun. Areas of the “private beach” are sparsely populated at their most hectic. Even at high tide, there is always room for a family (perhaps the beachfront owners are expecting the Manson’s) to spread out and enjoy themselves. Hampton Beach in New Hampshire is a crowded beach. In July and August a gnat cannot find enough room there to lay down a blanket. This is far from the case at Goose Rocks.
If the overcrowding issue is a smoke screen, there must be other reasons for the homeowners’ desires to keep people off a beach that has been used by the public for hundreds of years. Here are some possible explanations:
Revenge: As residents of Kennebunkport are well aware, there was a property tax revaluation undertaken this past year. This resulted in property taxes rising substantially for those with beachfront and waterfront homes. Perhaps these privileged landowners are angered by the fact that for the first time in 20 years they now have to pay their fair share of taxes. They are extracting their revenge by taking it out on the town and those residents whose taxes were reduced.
Self-Loathing: Twenty-five years ago, Goose Rocks was a mostly middle class enclave with the majority of its residents coming from the suburbs surrounding Boston and southern New England. The small cottages that marked the beach then have (for the most part) been torn down, rebuilt, and expanded. Many of these “new and improved” homeowners are from–as luck would have it–the suburbs surrounding Boston and southern New England. Coincidentally, many people visiting the beach also come from these regions. Perhaps the beachfront owners just don’t want to be reminded of the humble origins from which they slithered.
Health: Everyone knows that tourists emanate from anomie-infested suburbs and angst-ridden cities. They are mentally unclean and tainted. Their presence on the beach could undo the serenity brought about by rolling waves and gliding sea gulls. The horror, the horror. Those soiled must be kept away.
Wanna-be-ness: The lawsuit could be a simple case of celebrity envy. By aping various asinine celebrity behaviors, these homeowners could be hoping to view themselves as important and privileged. In 1999, Jim Belushi sued when a house painter had the audacity to walk across the beach adjoining his property. (Belushi lost in court.) Entertainment industry icon David Geffen fought public access to beaches in Malibu. He also lost. But he did get some headlines. Perhaps this could be a feeble attempt for 15 minutes of fame. Maybe these landowners are hoping to be ridiculed in Doonesbury just like “The Dark Leader” Geffen.
General Snobbery: Could it be that these homeowner’s are just your average run-of-the-mill snobs who don’t wish to associate with “neighbors” who can’t afford beachfront dwellings? This would be an ugly reality. That people so tremendously boring and base could actually exist in Kennebunkport would be embarrassing for the rest of us–and thus, we are doubly injured.
InAction As Action
One response to the suit would be to let the beachfront owners have the beach. We have to consider the future. The town would then have reason to ignore the homeowner’s pleas for help as the beach continues to erode–and erode it has over the past ten years. Picture a town manager smirking across his or her desk: “Hey, it’s your beach. You do something about it.”
Then there’s global warming and rising sea levels. As reported by National Geographic and thousands of other reputable scientific authorities, global warming will eventually cause sea levels to rise: “A one-meter sea level rise would wreak particular havoc on the Gulf Coast and eastern Seaboard of the United States.” Presumably, this includes King’s Highway and Sand Point. These homes could eventually land “below” the low tide mark. The Hangover wonders if that wouldn’t place them in the public domain. Certainly, the beachfront homeowners would see the justice in that.
(It’s interesting to note that should the beach even slightly flood this winter, these same landowners will likely call the fire department to come pump out their soaked basements. Neighbors in the form of volunteer fire fighters, although not allowed to cross their beach, would be actually allowed in the houses themselves. The fire fighters will surely be grateful.)
On the other hand, if one is inclined to act, The Hangover is all for non-violent, civil disobedient protest. When Tony Soprano needed to extricate himself from the purchase of a waterfront property from a high faultin’ neighbor, he didn’t call for a hit. He brought in the music. He had associates anchor his yacht just off shore from the would-be seller’s house and play a steady stream of Dean Martin: Live at the Sands Hotel. After several hours of Deano, the seller cracked and the deal was off.
This could work here. While many of us can’t afford a waterfront manse, we do have boats and boom boxes. Picture a pristine Memorial Day Saturday. The Hangover envisions a fleet of 100 Boston Whalers, dinghies, sunfish, and runabouts anchored just outside the low water mark of Goose Rocks Beach. Only instead of the sultry crooning of Martin, selected beachfront homeowners are bombarded with the non-stop punk-guitar crunch of The Clash. An afternoon and evening of Should I Stay Or Should I Go just might work here: