A popular Long Island beach, decimated by erosion, will be off limits to some beachgoers starting next weekend.
Field 5, a popular family destination of Robert Moses State Park, will see half its parking field closed, according to New York state parks department spokesman George Gorman.
"We'll be restricting parking," Gorman said. "Only half will be available to the public."
As a result, as many as 5,000 people a day could be turned away from field 5 just as the summer beach season is kicking off.
"That kind of upsets me because this is where we come to enjoy our family time," said Natasha Bolta of Islip, as she played in the sand with her daughter.
A lack of sand is the problem at field 5, Gorman said.
Erosion has eaten away so much of the once-expansive beach that, at high tide, ocean water covers large areas of sand, leaving little room for visitors to lay out their blankets and towels.
"If you come at low tide, you'll look at it and say, 'What are they talking about? There's plenty of beach here,'" Gorman said. "But if you come during high tide, people will look and say, 'They were right! There's no place to put my blanket.'"
The disappearing beach has alarmed many regulars, including fisherman James Saulitis.
"The erosion after the last five years has been ridiculous," Saulitis said.
For the last two years, parks officials saved field 5 by dumping thousands of cubic yards of new sand on the beach. But, according to Gorman, the stockpile of sand has run out.
The only answer, he said, would be for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge nearby Fire Island Inlet and then dump that sand at Robert Moses.
But there's no money in this year's federal budget for dredging, said Army Corps spokesman Chris Gardner. The earliest it could be done, he said, is fiscal year 2013.
"They have to find a better way," said Bolta. "A lot of families come here. What are we going to do, sit in the parking lot?"