KEY LARGO -- For years, patients with developmental disabilities at Key Largo's Murphy House have used a Bay View Drive public water access for water therapy such as kayaking and swimming.
But since county officials closed the access six months ago, residents of the nearby group home have not been kayaking.
The Monroe County Commission's move came at the request of nearby homeowners, who were irritated by live-aboards loitering around the water, according to Commissioner Sylvia Murphy.
The Key Largo politician described the vagrants as "drunken pigs," who shouted obscenities and had noisy beer parties. She said certain live-aboards were making the area less safe.
The road leading to the water is straight, and boaters on dinghies could see when law enforcement was approaching and would escape.
"When they saw the police coming, they zipped up and left," she said.
Murphy said residents were reporting thefts and break-ins. Nearby Bayside Inn also reported some of the boaters trespassing into their hotel pool and bothering guests, she added.
At the direction of the county, a fence was installed and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office posted signs threatening to prosecute trespassers. Residents along the road also have put up signs warning people not to loiter or trespass.
At the Murphy House, a 24-hour operation, six patients suffering from developmental disabilities are currently under the care of the owner and a small staff.
"We were really annoyed," said Pat Murphy, who owns the group home and walked her residents to the end of the road to kayak and swim and occasionally play with dogs.
"Having the access was a great benefit when we came here," she said.
The group home had no issues with the live-aboard community, Pat Murphy added.
"We were told there were robberies," she said. "They never did us any harm."
Not having the access has left the group home residents with one less recreational opportunity.
"They really just liked to go down and see the water," she said of her residents.
She said she contacted the county to complain after the closure but the fence remains. Towing kayaks to a different put-in is a difficult task for the home, she added.
With the closure, the group home has not been able to find an alternative.
"They really enjoyed the water," she said.