Long Beach

The beach along Lake Michigan at Long Beach is shown in this May 2017 photo. A Long Beach couple, who no longer own the property, lost their bid to have the Indiana Supreme Court find that they own the beach land right up to the water's edge. Now they are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule whether the beach along their former lakefront property belongs to the state or is private property. 

The beach belongs to the people.

It's the short answer, already provided by the Indiana Supreme Court, to anyone who would try to restrict public access to Lake Michigan waterfront contiguous with their properties.

Now in a misguided move, proponents of homeowners' rights trumping those of the public, the matter may be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It's a waste of everyone's time, particularly when considering the original homeowners who are pursuing the case, Bobbie and Don Gunderson, no longer reside in or own the Long Beach property that spurred the case to begin with.

It could be a long shot for the highest court in our nation even to accept the case. Nonetheless, it's time to end the pursuit.

And local authorities need to continue to send a strong message that the highest Hoosier court has ruled on the matter. Property owners attempting to impede access to nearby public beaches are breaking the law.

In February, the Indiana Supreme Court decisively ruled that the shoreline is owned by the state, held in trust for all Hoosiers. It specifically ruled that the property of lake-adjacent landowners ends where the soil becomes beach, also known as the ordinary high-water mark.

Yet, as detailed on today's Times front page, private Long Beach homeowners hired private security to restrict access to the beach Saturday.

The homeowners and contracted security attempted to push dozens of people off the public beach contiguous with the private property. The beachgoers had gathered for the annual Great Lakes Grand Prix boat race, which originates out of Michigan City.

Long Beach police had to be called in to set the property owners straight.

It shouldn't have come to that. The well-publicized ruling makes it clear, and property owners need to follow the law.

Meanwhile, the Gunderson case should be allowed to wash away with the waves.

It's time for the Region to move on from this issue.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Regional News Editor Sharon Ross, Assistant Deputy Editor Andrew Steele.