This week in Shelter Island history

Paard Hill Farms back when it was operating as an equestrian business that was described as a four-star hotel for horses, with padded floors and water fountains in many of the 23 stalls with water views.


Horseback riding lessons offered

After a lengthy battle to secure Zoning Board of Appeals and Town Board approval to operate Paard Hill Farms, owners Pieter Ruig and Ellen Lear were advertising a riding program of 10 private, semiprivate or group lessons with rates ranging from $500 for 10 private hour-long lessons to $350 for 10 hour  long semi-private lessons and $300 for one-hour group lessons. With the ads running in the winter of 2003, the couple noted that lessons took place inside a heated indoor arena.
POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Ruig and Ms. Lear are said to be in negotiation with a potential buyer to sell Paard Hill Farms for less than the original $8 million asking price. But there were details to be worked out, including a Peconic Land Trust right of first refusal on a 28.5 acre  so-called “open” parcel, according to Christopher Kent of the Bridgehampton law office of Farrell, Fitz. The town also had a right to take on the open parcel, but has no interest in doing so. Land Trust president John Halsey said he had not received a formal offer regarding donation to the trust of the Paard Hill open area to which it holds a conservation easement. Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said he beleived the PLT had no interest in buying the remainder of the property.


Heights trees come down

Long standing stately trees that lined the south side of Summerfield Place and Grand Street were cut down  after Heights Property Owners Corporation members determined they were rotting at the top, posing a danger of falling limbs. Upper limbs were dead, according to then HPOC general manager Bernie Jacobson. A lot of tree and shrub trimming took place in the triangular park across from the Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy as well. HPOC directors had approved the tree cutting and trimming back in 1991, although it wasn’t carried out until the winter of 1993 by volunteers from the HPOC. The Bartlett Tree Experts provided expert assistance with large trees, doing the work at a discount because it was the winter season and the cleanup was to be carried out by volunteers.
POSTSCRIPT: In 2011, Islander Mike Loriz discovered that all but one of 12 to 14 white oak and cherry seedlings he had donated,  planted and nurtured in three sites in the Heights had been removed. Seems members of the HPOC volunteer Landscaping Committee, unhappy with what they thought were ungainly saplings, had cut them down. Their instructions had been only to remove protective plastic sleeves from the saplings. The lone surviving cherry tree is on the triangle in front of the Chequit.


Nevel takes heat over beach passes

Although it wasn’t his edict, but one from Suffolk County, then supervisor Mal Nevel was the object of criticism for a plan to suspend beach passes during the summer of 1983. In February that year, Mr. Nevel told board members that since the county objected to people needing beach passes on Shore Road by Crescent Beach, a roadway it owned,  board members were inclined to cancel beach passes for the other two public beaches — Wades and Shell beaches. Some suggested a beach user fee instead of a parking fee, but action was delayed at the February 1983 meeting pending more input. A month later, the Town Board had another indication from the county and attorney Stanley Corwin that it might still be able to issue parking permits at Crescent Beach, even though Shore Road was a county roadway. Again, the issue was tabled pending a written opinion from county attorney David Gilmartin. The parking permits had been in effect since 1966.
POSTSCRIPT: Today, Islanders get free permits, but others have to pay for passes to park at any of the three public beaches or risk being ticketed during the summer season.


Wanted: A bar

It was 50 years ago that Shelter Island Legionnaires advertised for a bar for their post. The ad caught the eye of then Reporter editor Walter Schumann who wrote on the paper’s front page that the hunt was on for a bar at least 25 feet in length for the cocktail lounge where bowling alleys were first being installed. Post members thought they had a bar from a Nassau County restaurant, only to find out that it had already been promised to someone else, and that started the search for a bar that could be given as a gift or sold to Legionnaires at a fairly low price. But the solution came closer to home when Toots Clark, a member of the Misfits bowling team, completely refurbished the existing bar.
POSTSCRIPT: The bar at the Legion Hall is the same one Mr. Clark refurbished back in 1963.