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June 11, 2013
This week in Shelter Island history
Temporary youth center nearing readiness
Shelter Island youth were awaiting finishing touches on a temporary youth center at the town landfill back in 2002 after plans to open a center at the Presbyterian Church became bogged down in red tape. As plans were galloping along on the temporary center, it was agreed among church and town officials and the Youth Advisory Council that the center at the landfill site would operate only as long as it took to work with the Suffolk Country Department of Health Services on the siting of new wells and a septic system to accommodate the added activity at the church.
“I know that the landfill is not regarded as the best place to have a youth center,” said Jennifer Clark, who was chairing the Youth Advisory Council at the time. “But instead of nothing, I’d rather the kids have something until we can straighten things out with the church site.”
POSTSCRIPT: Today, the American Legion Hall doubles as the Shelter Island Youth Center.
20 YEARS AGO
What kind of neighbor is Plum Island?
After almost 40 years of operating as a center for research into controlling infectious animal diseases, Plum Island came in for media scrutiny in 1992 after the center, then operated by the United States Department of Agriculture, began privatizing the facility’s support services. There were charges from former employees that the move led to staff cutbacks and some said it compromised security and safety on Plum Island. The charge was denied by then director Dr. C.G. Crawford and he opened the site to press scrutiny for only the fourth time in its history to disprove the accusations. Dr. Crawford denied that changes in support personnel had compromised Plum Island security. It was then and remains today a Biological Safety Level 3 facility, but no germ warfare was being developed there, Dr. Crawford said.
POSTSCRIPT: Today, Plum Island is operated under the Department of Homeland Security with plans to close the facility and move its operations to Manhattan, Kansas. A lack of money to develop the Kansas facility continues to delay Plum Island’s closing and has given Midwest opponents time to mount some opposition to what would be a Biological Safety Level 4 facility in their midst. Meanwhile, plans here for Plum Island’s eventual future use continue to be debated.
30 YEARS AGO
Varsity soccer all-stars honored
Members of the Shelter Island High School varsity soccer team were honored for placing in the State Soccer finals. Three team members — Darrin Binder, John Czeladko and Leslie Czeladko — were named to an all-county roster and goalie Chris Johnson was named to an all-league team. Coach Luiz Coelho was named All-League Coach of the Year.
POSTSCRIPT: Shelter Island School Superintendent Michael Hynes is leading a committee creating a Sports Hall of Fame and reaching out to the community for nominations for the first group of inductees who will be honored in the spring of 2013.
50 YEARS AGO
Town Board mapping Heights parking plan
A lack of sufficient parking in the Bridge Street area in Shelter Island Heights was compounded back in July 1962 after angled parking was abandoned in favor of parallel parking. While it made it safer on the narrow street, it also decreased available space by about 50 percent. In warm months when the population and vehicular traffic increases markedly as people flock to Shelter Island as a vacation paradise, the loss of parking in an already tight area brought the issue to the Town Board by late fall. In early December 1962, the Town Board and Planning Board began examining possible solutions. Among the suggestions being tossed around at the time were filling in a portion of Chase Creek behind Piccozzi Bros. Garage and other shops on the west side of the road. That would have involved about 36,000 square feet of new land that would have been capable of handling about 30 vehicles. Another plan was to construct a bulkhead diagonally across from Dering Harbor to where Conklin’s Landing had been located and filling in the area behind the bulkhead to accommodate parking. But its estimated $100,000 price tag was considered too steep to be given serious consideration.
POSTSCRIPT: Fast forward to today and parking in the Heights remains critically tight during the tourist season with no simple solution in sight.