NewsRadio 920 WHJJ and the Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A dispute over public access to a Westerly beach is being heard in Superior Court.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has sued a handful of property owners for claiming a portion of Misquamicut Beach as their own and barring the public.

On Tuesday, the dispute that could have statewide implications went to trial.

The state contends property owners more than a century ago offered the beach to the public, creating "unbroken beach" from Watch Hill to Weekapaug.

The state alleges modern day property owners have posted "no trespassing" signs and installed fencing to block beach access and made verbal threats to people using the area.

A lawyer for the property owners tells The Providence Journal that land records don't prove such intent and the area has been private from "time immemorial."