From our files: This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The upper portion of Kirk and Gabriella’s house at 14 Shore Drive in Dering Harbor sustained major damage in a fire on October 1, 2002.

Workmen blamed for Harbor blaze

On October 1, 2002, a Dering Harbor house owned by Kirk and Gabriella Ressler sustained damage from a fire that resulted from workers, preparing to paint the third floor, using heat guns to strip paint from the walls. Damage to the third floor and the roof were significant, according to firefighters. Although firefighters knocked down the blaze quickly, heat spread to space between floors and it took a long time to assure that the fire was totally extinguished at the more than 100-year-old house. Local firefighters had to ask Sag Harbor for assistance
POSTSCRIPT: Just a week ago, firefighters were discussing another fire that started on a stove and was put out by the homeowner. But they want residents alert to the fact that even if they think they have extinguished a blaze, they should always call the department so that trained personnel can assure there’s no heat buildup behind walls that could result in a blaze flaring up again.

Sherman’s budget proposes 0% tax increase

Twenty years ago, Supervisor Hoot Sherman proposed a budget for the following year that would cut spending by $55,000 from the $3.29 million budget  for 1992. He called for a wage freeze for all town employees and said anticipated revenues were also projected to be down, necessitating a tight budget. The budget ultimately adopted the following month was $3.6 million but the town was also able to project that tax bills would go down slightly in 1993.
POSTSCRIPT: Supervisor Jim Dougherty has been working on a budget proposal for 2013 that total about $10.3 million, close to the current year budget.  Over the next few weeks, Town Board members will be joining him in the effort to turn out a 2013 budget that keeps property taxes within the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap. Mr. Dougherty has  agreed that the Town Board should consider voting to pierce the tax cap in case spending can’t be contained enough to keep taxes within the cap.

Chase Creek closed

Inadequate tidal flow resulted in the closing of Chase Creek to clammers and those seeking to take other shellfish from the water. The mouth of Chase Creek was slated to be dredged in the fall of 1977, although it was unclear if the dredging would result in reopening the water to shellfishing. While Supervisor Leonard Bliss questioned the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to close the creek to shellfishing, the town posted signs prohibiting it. But he said he didn’t think coliform counts, while high, weren’t at a dangerous level that should have resulted in the closing.
POSTSCRIPT: Nearby Dering Harbor has been closed to clamming and scalloping since 2008, although the town is asking the DEC to reinstate a conditional shellfishing program that would allow for clamming and scalloping in the winter as long as the Shelter Island Heights sewage treatment plant is operating properly. The DEC has acknowledged there is no problem with the sewer plant, but made its decision to keep the waters closed to shellfishing because of the potential for pollution in the case of a breakdown.