One A string of new residences under construction on New York’s Fire Island is causing simmering tensions among long-term residents, who fear the resort is becoming overwhelmed with speculators and real estate developers. movables.
Many of the 400 “year-round” people in the island’s unofficial capital Ocean Beach are annoyed that traditional cottages and 200-year-old trees are being demolished to make way. for sparkling new properties with swimming pools.
These “huge, monstrous houses,” as one resident described them at a village council meeting in July, say, are threatening the island’s delicate ecology and are being criticized by critics. rental for drinking parties.
“I am not against progress or more efficient homes,” another local told the meeting. “But we are really losing community. We are really losing something.”
Among the newcomers that sparked outrage among locals was comedian and actor Keegan-Michael Key, who bought two homes on adjacent grounds overlooking Ocean Beach with his wife Elle.
Key and Peele The actor bought his first property for $1.88 million last December, property records show. Built in 1970, this is the first time the cottage has been on the market since 1996. It has since been demolished and the section is currently vacant.
The couple, who married in 2018, later purchased a historic 1910 cottage on a townhouse for $1.55 million in March.
The couple made plans with the village planning board to get rid of the second property and build a sparkling new residence in its place.
The combined 7,840sqm sits on a prime location just off one of the island’s main roads between the beach and the bustling commercial district, where hundreds of people walk and relax every day on the ferry. in the summer.
The Independent was told Key’s asset plan was not available for public release, and that they were awaiting additional paperwork before it could be approved.
At the Village of Ocean Beach board meeting on August 27, residents complained about erosion in their lifestyles and new buildings, which they considered an ugly encroachment.
“The whole town is turning into a giant hotel,” a 30-year resident of Ocean Beach told the meeting.
“Trees are falling and houses are up. I saw a woman literally cry as they pulled down a 200-year-old willow tree.”
In a village dubbed “the land of No” with its maze of local ordinances banning everything from eating ice cream on the beach to going topless in the mall, locals are openly wondering: can’t we ban big houses?
The Independent sought comment from Key’s rep at United Talent Agency but had not yet responded at the time of publication.
‘You don’t really get any crime’
Real estate agent Joan Woletsky recently sold a beachfront property near Ocean Beach for $5.25 million — a record on the 32-mile barrier island that shields portions of Long Island’s coastline. from hurricanes and storms.
She told The Independent Property prices on the island have risen about 25% in the past year, as New Yorkers who may have been valued outside of the Hamptons are looking for alternative locations for their second home.
“I think when Covid succeeds, a lot of people want second place.”
She said the new mansions springing up around town are a reflection of Ocean Beach’s growing popularity.
“It’s a charming little town. Without a car, you don’t really commit a crime, kids ride their bikes without any supervision. And if you need to get into the city, it’s only a 30-minute ferry ride and an hour on the train,” she said.
“There are people who want to keep things their way. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.”
Older properties in Ocean Beach are typically two- to four-bedroom, wood-paneled single-story homes, often with outdoor showers.
They are narrowed down by newer multi-tiered features on larger sections. Some are under construction on the island.
A brand new 4-bedroom, 5-bathroom multi-story property with a swimming pool and massive surround mahogany decking is currently for sale with an asking price of $2.99 million.
“If you’re going to build another house, you have to make it fit,” said a 20-year resident The Independent.
The woman said many new villas are being rented out on Airbnb and attract wealthy people “who don’t really respect our beaches”.
“This is where we live, it would be like someone coming and partying in your backyard and not cleaning up after them.”
Most rental apartments are priced well in advance in the summer and the market has shown signs of exponential price increases. As of last week, a small five-bedroom beachfront property for a weekend in August is being rented for around $1,500 a night, one of the few still vacant.
Residents complain that new structures are not built according to planning standards and inspections are not carried out properly.
“Is there a reason to encourage or allow these large houses, given their environmental impact?” a resident asked at a village meeting in July.
“We are seeing 200 year old trees being demolished and… the dilapidated cottages where our family used to live and huge places for a bunch of weekly tenants.
“So I’m asking, is there a reason, and I can’t think of, why shouldn’t we limit the absolute size of the house?”
‘Land of No’
Towns official website status Ocean Beach “combines the charm of a resort with the idyllic atmosphere and safety of a lost era”.
While promoting a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, town officials enforce strict regulations on the tens of thousands of tourists who visit each year.
Eating or drinking anything other than water from plastic bottles on the beach is not allowed and alcohol is not allowed in public places.
According to local police, the influx of renters, day cyclists and unattended teenagers who don’t respect the rules also has worrying effects on cleanliness as well as the law. law and order in the town.
“The kids are coming out, I haven’t seen them in 30 years,” Ocean Beach Police Chief George Hesse told the village council August 27.
“They are here all day, they do nothing but cause havoc here. They drink, litter, turn on the radio while they’re walking down the street. And if someone says anything you get a finger or a FU,” he said.
“It killed us this year.”
Mr Hesse said emergency services were at full capacity with everything from shark attacks to fires.
The sheriff said he had also been busy writing tickets for “non-compliant trash”.
“We have written at least 150 of them,” Mr. Hesse told village officials.
Despite the village’s nickname “Land of Zero”, police say more action is needed to tackle the lawlessness.
Village officials agreed in their monthly public meeting on Saturday that a “more draconian” solution might be needed.
Banning unsupervised minors and placing a curfew on the beach have both been put on the table.
During the busy summer months when cars are banned, holidaymakers clean up the bars and restaurants on the village’s main road on the bay side of the island.
Visitors pull the popular little red carriages packed with beach supplies, water bottles, foldable beach chairs and umbrellas on the narrow streets that bisect the island.
Wild deer snack on the foliage in the narrow alley, not minding the passing people.
Artist Kenny Goodman, who has sold handmade jewelry on the island since moving here in 1968, said residents have long resisted the change.
“People who came out in the 30s and 40s are not crazy about the people who came out in the 60s and 70s. But they built their houses anyway,” he said. The Independent.
“A second after the new arrivals receive their new home, they put a line in the sand and say ‘there are enough people here now’.”
He recalls there was a heated debate about whether to allow the installation of a telephone soon after his arrival.
“Year-rounders” feel a specific ownership of the place, while motel owners who tax against the town coffers also feel they have a stake in how it works.
“Fire Island has so many facets, so many sides, so many different needs, and so many different groups feel that they own it,” he said.
“Places and people are evolving. Things will be different and I accept it.”
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused catastrophic damage to the island, as 10 meters of water flattened beaches, eroded sand dunes and washed away about 200 homes, according to a report. study by the US Geological Survey.
Many residents are forced to make decisions about whether to repair, rebuild or flood their property by elevating or moving it inland.
A $170 million federal grant helped rebuild the island’s dunes, build sand fences, and plant vegetation to protect riverside lands.
But island builders are warned that any new development comes with an element of risk, as the threat of hurricanes is only growing due to the effects of the climate crisis.
Flood insurance is expensive: a property currently listed for $800,000 in Ocean Beach says the cost of insurance will be $5,000 a year.
Barrier islands form the first line of defense for the mainland during hurricanes, and will bear the brunt of any future weather-related disasters.
Who is Keegan-Michael Key?
Key is a successful actor, writer, and comic book writer, as well as a frequent collaborator with Jordan Peele, whom he met when they both worked on an impromptu scene in Chicago in the 1990s.
The couple worked together on the comedy sketch series MADtvbefore creating their own Comedy Central series Key and Peele, which won critical and commercial acclaim for its hilarious skits that often shed light on racial inequality in the United States. Key was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
He played a Key and Peele character on the show, “angry interpreter” Luther, with President Barack Obama at the 2015 White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
He married second wife Elle in 2018 and sold his apartment at 56 Leonard St designed by Herzog & de Meuron in Tribeca for $5 million in 2021.