Hurricane Sandy and winter storms have wreaked havoc on Riverhead beaches, leaving the possibility of a driver getting stranded during high tide a reality.
So said Eric Biegler, president of the Sound Park Heights Civic Association, at Tuesday's Riverhead town board meeting.
Biegler said the town's beaches have all sustained damage, with Reeves Beach and Wading River beaches being hit particularly hard.
"I'm imploring the town board to take a real hard look at the town beaches," Biegler said.
He suggested that the town consider limited accessibility to beaches that might not have been so badly damaged, restricting day passes to non-residents only to beaches that "can handle it."
Biegler suggested the town issue day passes to residents only at beaches such as Reeves Beach and in Wading River.
Reeves Beach and Wading River beaches, he said, already have limited parking and, with the beaches damaged, Biegler suggested non-residents only be allowed to purchase day passes to beaches that have not been hit as hard by the storm.
"Residents are hard pressed already to get parking spots," he said, of Reeves Beach and Wading River. "Send them to Iron Pier where there are perfectly good facilities to enjoy."
In addition, Biegler said with permits already on sale, residents have begun driving on the beaches again. But, with area beaches badly damaged by erosion after the winter storms, Biegler said driving on the beach could have unexpected consequences.
"They need to be concerned that their travel routes may be blocked off," Biegler said. "Tides are extremely high and extremely low. It is possible to get trapped accidentally."
Those driving on the beach might be forced to navigate through high waters or "go through the tide cycle," before being able to drive out," he said.
Biegler suggested the town's recreation department put together a mailing for residents discussing beach access for vehicles during a time when so much of the shoreline is damaged.
"Fishermen who go regularly are aware of the tides but the casual weekend guy out with his family will forget or might not know and get trapped," Biegler said. "We all have a lot to adapt to this year."