NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A natural spring on Staten Island that had been open to the public has been closed off after tempers boiled over.

The tap is operated on property owened by the Marine Corps League. The veterans’ organization said the spring has been serving the area for generations.

Thirsty people would show up with small bottles or one- or five-gallon jugs and fill it up with fresh spring water.

There have been several incidents at the spring. But things got out of hand last month when a truck pulled up with 40 five-gallon jugs.

“They walked in with them and they told everybody else, ‘we have the spring today. You’re not going to be allowed to get any water.’ There was a dispute, there were hands thrown and at that point we had to close it down,” Al King of the Marine Corps League told CBS 2’s John Slattery.

The gates to the tap of Sunnyside Spring have been locked up since.

Some locals who loved the free access to the chlorine-free, low-pH water told Slattery they’re sad the poor behavior of some ruined it for everybody.

“It just tastes better than bottled water and tastes better than faucet water,” Nick Shaqiri said.

“To pay for water is a shame anyway, but now that I can’t get it…very disappointing,” Primo Sala told Slattery.

The natural spring water is believed to originate in Pennsylvania and becomes a spring in the Sunnyside section, then feeds into Clove Lake.

A spokesman for the Marine Corps League says the spring had to be closed off because of a lack of control and possible liability should anyone get hurt.

For now, the tap will remain locked off until the organization can limit the hours and get volunteers to monitor the crowds.

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