Mattituck beach trespass trial enters third day

12/09/2011 10:09 AM |

FILE PHOTO | A photo of the fence during a storm. This fence, which stretches into the water near Breakwater Beach at Mattituck Inlet, has been a thorn in some neighbors sides for years, but the owner of the property says she's within her rights.

The civil trial of a Mattituck man accused of walking on his neighbor’s beach entered its third day in a Riverhead courtroom Friday morning.

Ms. Rivera was on the stand all day Thursday, describing her  understanding of her property’s boundaries and what took place on the dates in question. No criminal charges have been filed against Mr. Calabro.

Seventy-eight-year-old Paul Calabro is is accused of cutting across Christine and Richard Rivera’s Soundfront property on one occasion in 2008 and again in 2009. The Riveras petitioned the State Supreme Court to compel Mr. Calabro to stipulate in writing that he will no longer cross the beach in front of their home. They’re also seeking to recoup their legal costs.

During Thursday’s testimony, Ms. Rivera described her understanding of a judgement she and 18 other property owners in the neighborhood received in 2007 which she said “means we are the owners of any accreted beach, now and forever. If it erodes, we loose beach.”

During cross-examination, Mr. Calabro’s attorney, David Raimondo, repeatedly attempted to ask Ms. Rivera whether she or the homeowners of the West Mattituck Beach Association, of which she is a former president, paid a firm to lobby then-attorney general Andrew Cuomo during the 2007 case. The beachfront homeowners won that case by default when the state did not mount a defense.

Ms. Rivera’s attorney, Jared Behar of Central Islip, objected to most of Mr. Raimondo’s questions about the lobbying, which were then withdrawn. Ms. Rivera said during direct questioning that, since around 2007, Mr. Calabro has repeatedly set up his beach chairs and umbrella in front of her property and left them there all day while he swam and boated in the water in front of her house.

Prior to that time, she said, he always used the public beach to the east of her house.

“He says ‘you don’t own the beach,'” she said.

Mr. Raimondo asked Ms. Rivera how many times she had called the police when people walked on the beach in front of her house.

She said she didn’t know, but when pressed responded “yes” when he asked if she had called the police “less than 50 times.”

Mr. Raimondo asked Ms. Rivera a number of questions about the location of the mean high water mark on her property. By law, people are allowed to walk seaward of the mean high water mark.

She said Trustee Jim King placed a PVC pipe in the sand in front of her house to delineate the mean high water mark, but she could not recall the date. Mr. Raimondo said that took place on Nov. 19, 2010, more than a year after the most recent trespass allegation was brought against Mr. Calabro.

The Riveras’ surveyor was expected to take the stand when the trial resumes Friday at 10 a.m.