Read this week’s Letters to the Editor

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

To the Editor:

In my many years of living on Fresh Pond there have been algae blooms. They have colored the pond’s waters brown, gray, pale yellow and green. Except for a foamy brown substance on the shore of the town landing, the pond’s water has been clear so far this year, most likely due to a cool August.

In the last of several hot summers, the entire pond became green with a heavy blue-green scum on the shoreline. In 2011 I called the cops because I thought someone had spilled paint or oil into the pond. The officer and I agreed this blue-green substance was a mystery. I snapped a photo of it on my  iPhone. Recent news stories about blue-green algae outbreaks in the Hamptons showed pictures that looked similar to my photo. I emailed the photo to the DEC and they confirmed this was indeed blue-green algae on Fresh Pond. Fresh Pond was declared polluted last year.

What I have just learned about blue-green algae is eye opening. It is produced by the phosphorous pollution when the temperature in Fresh Pond becomes excessively warm. The resulting cyanobacterium generates toxins. Of these, the neurotoxins affect a human’s central nervous system and the hepatotoxins promote tumor growth and liver disease.

These toxins remain active even after the water becomes clear again. Children, pets, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk. (Please visit the websites of the DEC, NYS Department of Health, the CDC, the WHO and the GLEON for more information.)

Two neighbors have decided the past blue-green algae blooms on Fresh Pond were not harmful because Shelter Island is a special place. Their utterly inaccurate letter to the editor (“The water’s fine,” August 22) stated that my reason for exposing this is to reduce the noise next to my property. The noise has become more tolerable since the town removed the illegal beach on the landing. I have not filed one noise complaint this season or last. Why would I wait until the end of the season if that was my intent?

If you saw a toddler about to drink a bottle of poison or run into traffic, would you intervene? We see babies and kids wade into the pond soon after rain storms. That’s when E.coli bacteria levels are much higher and more harmful. Had I known about the presupposed toxicity from past algae blooms, I would have sounded the alarm without delay.

My wife swam in Fresh Pond for years. We wonder if the cause of her sudden stage four breast cancer is a toxin ingested from Fresh Pond. There are many environmental carcinogens; Fresh Pond is now one more to consider. But it doesn’t need to be. With proper water quality testing and notice to the public, Fresh Pond might be much safer for all.
The personal attacks on us and my motivation are unimportant. The facts are inescapable. The risks are real.
VINNIE NOVAK
Shelter Island

Matching service
To the Editor:

Your August 22 headline, (“The New Normal: Ferry Traffic Jams”) contains some misinformation about the LIRR service to Greenport. Just yesterday on the Ronkonkoma train from Penn I picked up the enclosed “Train Talk” publication announcing extended service to Greenport and notice of a public hearing specifically about Greenport service taking place Tuesday, August 27 in Manhattan. This is a perfect opportunity for representatives of Greenport and North Ferry to address concerns about Greenport LIRR service.

Would it really be that much trouble to provide daily morning train service from Greenport that matches the ferry schedule even if just seasonally?
John T. Colby Jr.
Shelter Island
Editor’s note: The writer is correct.

Save St. Gabe’s
To the Editor:

I understand that the acquisition of St. Gabriel’s Retreat is not an easy or simple endeavor but I think it is feasible and a worthy idea to consider while the opportunity is still available to our community.

We have the leadership in this town to accomplish the task. We have a competent and experienced Town Board and other leaders in the community with financial expertise and negotiating skills.

Perhaps if we put forth a specific strategy to the Passionist Fathers about how we envision this property to be used for the good of many, then we could get them to be a part of a plan to preserve this open space.

One idea that appeals to me is to create a retreat for returning veterans of war to recover from their physical, mental and emotional wounds. We could obtain the cooperation of benevolent organizations to become stakeholders in our project such as the American Legion, the Wounded Warrior’s project, multiple veterans’ organizations and corporate sponsors.

Perhaps federal money would also eventually become available through grants.

We all agree St.Gabe’s is a special place and we can save it and at the same time provide our veterans with a special place.
BRUCE SAUL
Shelter Island

Taking a risk

To the Editor:
I can’t tell you how much pleasure it gives someone who is really old, like me, when someone who is really young, like Lisa Kaasik, does the right thing and does it so very, very well (“Graduate wants new school mascot,” August 22). She believed something, she wanted something to happen, she took the risk, and I know there was risk because there always is, and she acted. She was not silent.

Social psychology studies all agree — silence is universally understood as assent, agreement. Lisa Kaasik did not agree and she was not silent, and for this I congratulate her. We don’t know each other, but if I can ever be of help to her in any way, I hope she’ll be in touch. In the meantime, my warmest best wishes to her.
CAROL GALLIGAN
Shelter Island

An alumni issue

To the Editor:

I found the article in last week’s Reporter on a new school mascot to be thought provoking, to say the least. It takes courage to stand up for one’s convictions, especially in a small, close-knit community such as Shelter Island. Kudos to Ms. Kaasik. I don’t know her, but she seems like another smart graduate of Shelter Island School. I wish her all the best in her first year of college. For purely sentimental reasons (having absolutely no basis in rational or irrational political or social correctness), I would like to keep the Shelter Island Indian mascot. For what it’s worth, I also wanted to save Louis’ Beach and stop “dark skies” legislation. Oh, well.

This is an alumni issue, and as such, past graduates and current students (along with their aging parents) should be engaged in this provocative discussion.

A part of me will always proudly identify as an Shelter Island Indian or an Islander. I am not embarrassed by either; in fact, I’m quite proud of both. That said, there might be a majority of today’s students and (gasp) older graduates who would welcome a new mascot. There’s one way to find out: civil, open dialogue.

Of course, the Island continues to change, as it always has and always will. This ain’t the Island your parents grew up on, it ain’t the Island you grew up on, and it won’t be the island your kids grew up on. It’s called evolution; get over it. We each have our own connection to this beautiful place. Right or wrong, a part of mine is with the Shelter Island Indians. Go Indians!
STEVEN GRIFFING
Shelter Island School Class President, 1982

Safety first
To the Editor:

In April 2012 I requested the Town Board to consider my March request to the New York State Department of Transportation to install flashing yellow lights on the approaches to our school. Such lights are in place along state roads in Sag Harbor, Bridgehampton, Southampton, Greenport and Hampton Bays, as well as roads in East Hampton and elsewhere that are not on state roads. The Regional Office of the state DOT declared that such lights are warranted.

Unfortunately, Police Chief James Read and school crossing guard Christine Gross informed the town that they did not consider such lights to be necessary. In addition, our Shelter Island Board of Education declared that flashing yellow lights are not in keeping with the “rural atmosphere” of Shelter Island.

So I requested that the DOT install “School” lettering on the pavement of Route 114 in both directions approaching the school zone. The DOT surveyed the area and determined that such pavement markings would be installed, and additionally that school crossing road signs would be upgraded to be more prominent. The DOT promised that such improvements would be in place before school opens. I am happy to report that such markings are now in place.

However, I continue to believe that flashing lights should be in place on approaches to our school on Route 114, in view of the ongoing traffic passing from North to South Ferry — often driven by people who are not familiar with the Island, and do not know until they are in front of our school that the school is there. The safety of our students is, as always, paramount.
LINDA G. HOLMES
Shelter Island