What can we do?: The whole purpose of this website is so the Moody Beach community and the public do not feel powerless to address their dwindling access to Moody Beach. Whether through current or future court actions, raising awareness within the community, addressing issues with town/state officials, or grass-roots efforts by community members, THERE IS HOPE!! Please read the stories from your neighbors who have been denied access to Moody Beach on the "Beach Access Stories" page, learn more about Maine beach access background and current events by reading the articles on the "News & Links" page, see the thoughts and ideas of FreeMoodyBeach.com on the "Commentary" page, and if you feel so compelled please share your stories, comments, and ideas by emailing FreeMoodyBeach@yahoo.com.
Together we can give access to one of Maine’s most beautiful pieces of shoreline back to the Moody Beach community!
With beach access comes responsibility. When on the beach, please no littering or drinking, and be respectful of your fellow beach-goers - both ocean-front owners and non-owners alike.
1 Its important to note that not all oceanfront owners are alike. Several owners either directly or indirectly allow beach-goers to go on the beach in front of their property. And a select few should be COMMENDED for supporting the Moody Beach communities access to the beach.
Then: During my entire childhood (starting in 1971) and into my adulthood, access to Moody Beach was much the same as it had always been: EVERYONE had full access to the beach. Whether high tide or low tide, you could sit, sunbathe, play, walk, and swim anywhere you desired on the fine sands of the beach...... On a warm sunny beach day, go to Wells Beach or Drake's Island Beach today and that was what Moody Beach used to be like - people regardless of their property ownership status coming together as a community and enjoying beach.
Now: Now people primarily huddle into beach areas in front of the 3 public entrances. If you dare to try and get some breathing room between you and your adjacent beach-goers by sittng on the beach areas in front of one of the ocean-front houses, then you risk being asked to leave by the ocean-front owner [see note 1] or worse – have the owner call the police and then be asked to leave by the Wells police.
How Did This Happen?: This primarily was able to happen due to a 1989 Maine Supreme Court ruling on a case brought to trial by 28 Moody Beach ocean-front owners. While ownership was rather nebulous before this case, this ruling stated that the beach down to the low watermark was the private property of the ocean-front owners via a Massachusetts colonial law from the 1600’s. The ruling also stated that the public access rights to the beach were limited for the purposes of “fish, fowl, and navigation” only (the ME/MA public trust doctrine). This essentially meant that oceanfront owners could prevent sunbathing, swimming, and recreation, from occurring on the beach area in front of their houses.
What Happened After the Court Decision?: These new access laws were basically not enforced for a while. Historically, the community always had access to the beach and the owners knew all of a sudden preventing access wouldn’t fly. They claimed they only wanted to keep ‘bad-eggs’ off the beach (people drinking, littering etc.). Plus the Town of Wells basically said enforcing these laws was a low priority and if they received excessive calls they would take the beach over by eminent domain….. But as time has gone by, less and less people and owners have any knowledge of the beach pre-1989, and certain ocean-front owners now feel more and more emboldened to keep the public and community off their beach.