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Nov 27, 2018 2:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Researcher Says Cartwright Island Appears Part Of Gardiners But Shoreline Could Still Be Public

Rod Richardson and members of his family paddled to Cartwright Island last summer. Mr. Richardson was arrested after he removed a sign stating the island is private and being confronted by security guards from Gardiners Island.
Nov 27, 2018 3:44 PM

A researcher told the East Hampton Town Trustees earlier this month that he has found no evidence that the low sand shoal off the southern tip of Gardiners Island, commonly called Cartwright Island, is a separate parcel of land from the larger island, as some have claimed.

Steve Boerner, the archivist of the Long Island Collection at the East Hampton Library, as well as a real property consultant, told the Trustees on November 16 that he has scoured historical records and legal documents and is left with the opinion that Cartwright Island is simply part of Gardiners Island.

Mr. Boerner had been enlisted by the Town Trustees to determine whether there was, in fact, evidence that Cartwright Island is a separate parcel—and possibly owned by the Trustees.

“At this point, I feel the title to Cartwright Island is still with Gardiners Island, that it’s part of that complex,” Mr. Boerner told the Trustees. “You can get into the legalities of evulsion and accretion, but at this point … I think common sense would be that it was part of [Gardiners Island].”

Mr. Boerner said that he also found no references to rights that the owners of Gardiners Island, the Goelet family, have claimed that they have ownership to the intertidal shoreline and underwater lands up to a depth an ox could walk. He said that absent any such specific documentation, the shores of Cartwright and Gardiners Island would presumably be subject to the same limitations as any other shoreline in the state, allowing the public rights of access to any areas seaward of the mean high tide line, or apparent wrack line.

Last summer, Amagansett resident Rod Richardson was arrested after he and members of his family paddled to Cartwright Island and, when confronted by Gardiners Island security guards, pulled up a sign stating that the narrow strip of sand was private property. Mr. Richardson told the Trustees that the Suffolk County district attorney’s office produced no evidence of ownership or any special rights to the “foreshore” of Cartwright Island at a recent court appearance in the case.

Mr. Richardson also reiterated his point that the Goelets, or any other private land owner, cannot impede public access to the intertidal lands of any shoreline, regardless of ownership or specific covenants.

“Even though the king could grant submerged lands as private property, his grant was subject to the paramount right to use public waters,” Mr. Richardson said, reading from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. “This look into who owns [Cartwright Island] doesn’t matter, because the public trust rights to public access still exist … irrespective of who owns the island.”

Mr. Boerner told the Trustees he still had some additional research to do and would be issuing a final report at a later date.

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Great.. I look forward to beer cans and half burned logs along the shoreline..
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Nov 30, 18 10:49 AM
2 members liked this comment
By watchoutnow968 (56), Southampton on Dec 2, 18 12:23 AM
It offends me when hoi polloi steps on my private island.
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Dec 2, 18 9:49 AM
Beach access is non negotiable!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 2, 18 10:05 AM
1 member liked this comment
Leave the very small spit of sand to the nesting terns...
By harbor (415), East Hampton on Dec 3, 18 9:28 AM
Mike Wright gets it right on public beach access, in his story on Cartwright Island. Some folks want to confuse the public, so thank you for clarifying that no matter who owns the island, the public has the right to access every beach in NY.  

But I was sorry to see a major error in the lede. It seriously misinforms the public about their rights. The story opens:

“A researcher told the East Hampton Town Trustees earlier this month that he has found ...more
By Rod R (30), East Hampton on Dec 10, 18 2:39 AM