Members of the Sullivan Town Council voted unanimously May 16 to take down a gate that prevents through traffic from traveling between Front Road and Lestina Beach Road along the lake. Highway Superintendent Elwin "Sonny" Centner told the board in April he had received a complaint about the gate's being closed.
"It's the first complaint I've ever heard about it," Centner said. "It's been this way for 50 years or more."
Centner has worked for the town highway department for 49 of those years, the past 32 as superintendent.
Earlier this month, an Ash Road resident approached the town board to express her frustration that the opening provided for foot traffic around the gate was too narrow.
"You can get through there," said Supervisor John M. Becker. "There's an opening."
"You can't get a wheelchair through there," the woman said.
She said the opening in the gate would not accommodate her wheelchair or other motorized mobility devices.
"That gate has never been open except in the winters for the town plow," Centner said. "Our trucks are too big to turn around down there."
After Centner brought the issue to the council, the board asked for an opinion from Bridgeport Fire Department Chief Paul Smith regarding the impact on emergency response. In a written opinion provided to the board, Smith said the gate could be a barrier to rescue operations in the area should emergency personnel be dispatched down the wrong road and wind up on the wrong side of the gate.
Becker said private citizens cannot put a barrier on a town road, and if residents want it considered to be a private road, the town would cease maintaining it.
Lestina Beach and Front roads are narrow, Centner said.
"You can't have two-way traffic travel through there safely," Centner said. "We only have a 20-foot right-of-way here."
Centner said he did not know who in the community takes responsibility for maintaining the gate or opening and closing it seasonally. He said he does not have a preference whether the gate stays up or comes down.
"It doesn't make any difference to me," Centner said. "It's up to the people who live there and the board."
Becker said he felt making the road single-directional travel would be a problem.
"I think if we put up one-way signs up there, that will create other problems, too," Becker said.