This week in Shelter Island history

JULIE LANE PHOTO | With the end of the landfill came installation of this system in use today for bagging household wet garbage.

Opposition ends debate on dock policy

Faced with opposition in the form of 130 signatures on a petition, the Shelter Island Town Board backed off from endorsing an East End committee’s call for restricting new docks and banning CCA-treated bulkheads to protect the Peconic Estuary. Were they unwilling to be good stewards of Peconic Bay? No, but independent minded Islanders just aren’t quick to sign on to ideas initiated from other sources. And, besides, even those pushing for an endorsement, had to admit that the very policies the committee was pushing were pretty much already in practice here.

POSTSCRIPT: The same attitudes that informed the turndown of the dock policies were likely at play for those Islanders who object to a dark skies initiative. Do they love the beauty of starry nights any less than others? No. But they just don’t want government or anyone else intruding here. Still, as Shelter Island continues to attract more outsiders and the handshake that was good enough to ensure cooperation between neighbors, they may discover the need for resolutions that guarantee that one person can’t swing his fist beyond where it meets another’s nose.

Town eyes upstate consultant for next dump closure phase

Twenty years ago, Shelter Island, like other Long Island communities, was struggling to meet the requirements of the Long Island Landfill law that required the closing of landfills by December 1990. The town was able to qualify for state funding to offset the estimated $2 million cost of capping the landfill and they were about to engage Fagan Engineers from Elmira, New York, as a consultant to guide the work

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s recycling station to handle household garbage has been relocated to an area removed from residences instead of where the old landfill along Bowditch Road carried unwelcome odors to neighbors.

Fire boundary dispute may become court battle

A dispute over the boundary line between the Shelter Island Center and Heights Fire Districts grew so heated back in 1983 that it appeared it would take court action to resolve the problem. At issue were 10 parcels of land that were in the Center Fire District when they should have been a part of the Heights, according to supervisor Mal Nevel, who was also a Heights Fire District commissioner. Councilman Louis Price, a Center Fire District commissioner, agreed there was a discrepancy, but said, “I’m not sure the line is exactly the way the Heights says it should be.” The boundaries had been established in 1931 by the Suffolk County Board of Supervisors. The Heights line ended before the corner of Winthrop Road and Route 114, but if new lines were approved, the parcels along Winthrop Road and Chase Creek would go from the Center into the Heights Fire District. The new line would result in a loss of about $1,000 in tax revenue for the Center and a gain of about $3,000 in tax revenue in the Heights.

POSTSCRIPT: There’s now a single fire district embracing the entire town while firehouses continue to be operational in both the Heights and Center. But the Center Firehouse is where commissioners’ meetings are held and it’s considered the main headquarters.

Board moves to rid community of old buildings

The Shelter Island Town Board took an important step 50 years ago in ridding the town of unsightly or dilapidated buildings as it discussed an Unsafe Building Ordinance that would enable it to take action if property owners failed to do so to remove such structure. A dilapidated house at the intersection of Manwaring and St. Mary’s roads prompted the action. Any action the town would have to take if a property owner failed to have the structure removed would become a lien on the property that would take precedence over all other liens except tax liens.

POSTSCRIPT: The town has had to act to remove some properties but St. Mary’s Road neighbors were unsuccessful in the past year in their attempts to have the town take action on the land once operated as Shelter Island Gardens Nursery. That site has since been sold to Suffolk County National Bank, the sole bidder at a public auction last spring for $525,000. The bank had foreclosed on the property that had belonged to Sean McLean. It has yet to move on its plan to resell the property.