Illogical Reasoning

Nov 08, 2017

To the Editor:

I was at the Harvey Cedars town meeting in August and voiced my opinion along with many others who chose to speak regarding surfing on the Harvey Cedars beaches, but I feel that obviously this was not enough. I have since heard of the commissioners’ decision to try out the surfing on 80th Street only.

I don’t understand the reasoning for this. I met with Harvey Cedars lifeguard Capt. Randy Townsend and Chief of Police Rob Burnaford to discuss this issue. At the time of the meeting I asked for reasons why surfing was not allowed on our beaches as they are in all the other towns on the Island. The reasons given, to be frank, made no sense. This is not a safety issue, as we are asked to believe, because for years surfers have surfed outside the flag in other towns and no issues have arisen. To be more specific, I would like an explanation as to how riding a bike carrying a surfboard, so you can get to a surfing beach, is less dangerous than surfing on a beach near where you live. Neither Randy nor Rob could give me an answer to this question.

I have had surfers in my home for at least 30 years during which I have never heard of an incident where safety was a problem. Many years ago, my nephew worked as a lifeguard for several years and there was never a problem with or danger concerning the surfers who were surfing outside the flags. I now wonder why this has become an issue? Has there been specific occurrences which makes this an issue and if so I would welcome the facts relating to the occurrences.

Now I have my grandson surfing and find it somewhat ridiculous that he must get on his bike to go to another beach to surf when I live 200 feet from the beach. The traffic has increased over the years, bike lanes are narrow and cause drivers and bike riders serious concerns, and yet the insistence is that it is a greater danger to have the surfers on the beach near home than it is for them to travel to a designated beach.

What is it that needs to be proved? The surfers from what I have seen over the years are if anything an asset to the swimmers because being out in the water nearer to someone in danger could be more helpful to the lifeguards. Please let us not forget that the surfers are well aware of the dangers of the water. It is unbelievable to think that anyone who surfs is not a proficient swimmer who is concerned with the environment and would therefore be careless to the surroundings and other people in the water.

Consequently, I am requesting that the Harvey Cedars mayor and commissioners expand the 2018 trial of surfing outside the flags to at least three or four more beaches.         

Or, if our town executives are unwilling to do this, I am requesting that Capt. Townsend make a public presentation of the facts that he has provided to the mayor and commissioners who are using this report to justify the restriction of surfing access to our ocean for the past generation.

I welcome any replies to this letter to help me understand the hazards a surfer causes to our beaches. I also welcome any response from the governing body explaining this issue.

Marilyn Upton

Harvey Cedars


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