East Beach homeowners worried about losing a way of life - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

East Beach homeowners worried about losing a way of life

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Three friends walk their dogs on East Beach every morning.  While the dogs frolic in the sand, the friends breath in the salt air, and look at the beauty surrounding them. 

Beth Ashley doesn't have to dig for an answer over ownership of the beach.  

"I think that some of the landowners do probably own the beach based on the history of their property rights." Ashley said.  "I think they have been kind enough to share it and I think they are willing to share it." 

These friends really don't like the idea of a sidewalk being built.  

"I think that it's valid that the private property owners should have some say about it and that they own a portion of it," Adele Anderson Lawton said. 

That's not how Leonard Vergunst sees it.  He runs on East Beach Drive every morning, and fears a ruling in favor of the homeowners could end his favorite past time.  

"The beach should belong to the public," Vergunst said.  "I mean people are attracted to the beach, they want to come walk and run on the beach." 

But people who live on East Beach say that will never be a problem.  Marty Wagner and his wife Lisa have called East beach home for two decades.  They worry a sidewalk and more people would harm their quiet and peaceful way of life.  Wagner said the issue has been misunderstood. 

"Some of the residents that don't want the walking path have been misconstrued that they don't want the people down here, they don't want people walking down here, and I don't think that's the case." Wagner said.  "I've lived here for 20 years and I don't know of any resident of the beach that doesn't want people down here."

Despite that feeling, if the beach is removed from public use, Jan Ordoyne said lives would change. 

"If private owners took this away from us, yes, I would be very saddened by that." 

The judge has given the city and the homeowners until Monday to submit final written briefs concerning the lawsuit.   A ruling on the case will be made by April 23.

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