A look back: This week in Shelter Island history

FILE PHOTO | Part-time resident Alex Ypsilanti revived the effort to make drivers aware that this is the time of year when turtles are crisscrossing roads in search of water.

Open space rules called a problem

Town officials worried about pending legislation from the state that would require municipalities to hold public hearings on proposed open space acquisitions only after appraisals had been completed and a contract signed. Local officials worried  the requirement could slow progress and result in a loss of potential deals. The legislation in the Assembly was sponsored by Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) while similar legislation was being introduced in Albany by Senator Kenneth LaValle (R,C-Port Jefferson). The law would also impose disclosure of requirements on gifts of land from private citizens, but local officials argued that could discourage such gifts. Mr. Thiele said at the time that local concerns were an over-reaction and that because increasing amounts of state and county money were being used in such purposes, there was a need for “increased accountability.”
POSTSCRIPT: Today, municipalities are required to hold one or more public hearings even though much of the work on a potential acquisition might be done by volunteer groups not subject to the Open Meetings Law. A major debate has been raging this year about whether or not the remaining land at the former St. Gabriel’s Retreat on Coecles Harbor should be acquired by the town or left to a private developer. The Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board didn’t favor such an acquisition while Supervisor Jim Dougherty has pushed for its consideration.

Turtle crossing signs hatch

It was at this time in 1993 that first grader Lisa Stelljes appealed to Shelter Island’s Environmental Awareness Association to initiate a project to alert drivers to turtles crossing town roads. Teachers Wendy Clark and Stephanie Needham embraced the project and Jack’s Marine, Shelter Island Hardware and Riverhead Building Supply donated materials for signs to alert drivers. First graders painted the signs and erected them  near their homes.
POSTSCRIPT: Just a year ago, Island weekender Alex Ypsilanti picked up the theme alerting motorists to the increased numbers of turtles typically seen cross roadways here during this season.

Fireworks set for Saturday

In 1983, Shelter Island held its fireworks display close to Independence Day and was gearing up for the big event that was to take place on July 2. But that year a rain date was cancelled after town officials determined it was too expensive to line up police and other workers for a second day in case the original date got rained out. It was also a time when the town started reaching out to residents and business owners for contributions to offset the costs.
POSTSCRIPT: Last July’s fireworks never happened following an original postponement because of technical problems and subsequent attempts to reschedule that ultimately proved too difficult to arrange. Fireworks are slated this year off Crescent Beach on Saturday, July 13.

Teen canteen opens two nights per week
The Teenage Canteen at the American Legion Hall began operating two nights a week at the end of June 1963. All high school students, whether here on Shelter Island or those vacationing here from other schools, were eligible to participate in the summer activities.
POSTSCRIPT: Fast forward 50 years, and teens still lack their own center and are still using the American Legion Hall for many of their activities.



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