Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Battle of "Jones Beach"

This Saturday, August 22nd, commemorates the 60th anniversary of the battle of “Jones Beach.” On that evening, with a crowd of 300 onlookers, a group of about 20 veterans, acting on orders from First Selectman Walter F. Jones, tore down a fence at the Hales Bridge Beach, erected earlier in the evening by Henry J. Carini, a Glastonbury real estate developer, who claimed ownership of the beach.

The Square Off

L - R Reporter James Costello, Alfie Royce (hat) Jackie Jacobson, First Selectman Walter Jones,
Attorney Bruce Manternack, Stanley Knotek peering over his shoulder, ??, unknow young lady,
Henry J. Carini, ??, William Knotek,Donald Markham

The fence was erected by Mr. Carini and several landowners in his development, located across the street from Lakewood Road on the beach of Lake Pocotopaug. Within a short time after the work was completed, scores of townspeople began to gather at the site. Within 30 minutes after the fence was up, carloads of veterans arrived on the scene.

First Selectman Jones, meanwhile, was in Niantic for a few days vacation and could not be reached by telephone. The veterans dispatched a messenger to him and he returned to town.
Upon getting out of his car in front of the beach, Mr. Jones shouted: “All right boys, take down the fence. I don’t care how many State Police are here or if Hickey (Resident State Trooper William Hickey) himself is watching.”

The "Fence"

L - R Alfie Royce, George Valli, Roscoe James, ??

Within a few minutes, the fence was torn down and thrown into the waters of Lake Pocotopaug. Mr. Carini and his attorney, Bruce Manternach of Robinson, Robinson and Cole, Hartford, approached Mr. Jones, who told them to “keep that fence down.” The Selectman warned Mr. Carini that he would remove any fence placed on the property in the future. State Police, under the direction of Sergeant Frank Leighton, acting commander of the Colchester Barracks, declared the beach area an emergency zone and order all cars removed from the immediate vicinity.

The Confrontation

L - R The crowd surrounds Henry Carini and First Selectman Walter Jones

A storekeeper near the lake, it was reported, called State Police during the proceedings and asked that the “riot squad” be sent to the scene. Later Captain Leo F. Carroll and others from the Special service Division drove to the beach area but found the gathering dispersing without further disturbance and no need for additional police was reported.

Sending the Crowd Home

L - R: unknown man and woman in car, State Trooper Joseph Sirkorsky , Selectman Jones, Jackie Jacobson

The encounter resulted after Mr. Carini had filed an executor’s deed on the property from the Hale family. Attorney Manternach claims that Carini owns not only the beach which has been the bone of contention but also that part of the road known as North Main Street (Lake Drive) which separates the Carini development from the beach and he contended there was unable to find any deed which ever conveyed the road to the town of East Hampton. [Personal observation - it is likely the road was part of the original partition of East Hampton as surveyed by the proprietors in 1721, thus would not have a deed.]

Onlookers Move On

L - R: Constable Joseph Sirkorsky, First Selectman Walter Jones, George Mack, foreground Willard Robinson, Jackie Jacobson

On August 13 approximately 100 men, most of them war veterans, claiming the beach belonged to the Town, dumped about 200 truckloads of sand onto the beach and place a sign reading “VFW and American Legion Beach.”

According to Carini the reason so many person think the beach belongs to the Town probably stems from the fact that for years the public used the beach. This was before there were any houses in the section and no objection was raised to public use of the beach.

Success - The Fence is Removed

L - R: ??, Jim Barton, ??, Joseph Porter, Selectman Hubert Hodge, Howard Engle (Council Chair Melisa Engel's grandfather), First Selectman Walter Jones, a very young but future Governor, William "Bill O'Neill, ??, Joseph Frontel,??, ??

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