A look back: This week in Shelter Island history


REPORTER FILE PHOTO A Streiter anti-deer reflector in 2004, said to help keep deer off roadways to diminish accidents.

A Streiter anti-deer reflector in 2004, said to help keep deer off roadways to diminish accidents.

Town Board takes over ‘whistles’

Back in February 1964, the Town Board took over the fire alarm system on Shelter Island from the fire district. A some point, according to then Supervisor Evans Griffing, someone went out and purchased a whistle system, installed it and “started blowing.” By the town passing a resolution in 1964, it was taking back a responsibility that had long rested with the Town Board in the past, Mr. Griffing said.
POSTSCRIPT: Whatever that system was then, it is long gone, according to Chief John D’Amato. Today, fire calls are controlled through Southold Police and alarms that are used are determined by the Board of Fire Commissioners.

Merger means tax hike

Thirty years ago, it was a refrain heard regularly at school budgeting time: Merge with Greenport or Sag Harbor and it will cost less to educate Island students. Or so people thought. But in February 1984, a New York State Department of Education study disspelled that assumption. If Shelter Island sent its secondary school, grades seven through 12, to Greenport, taxes would go up 60 percent, the study concluded. The proposal at the time was for students from Southold, Greenport and Shelter Island to attend one school and it would have benefitted Greenport and Southold financially, but not Shelter Island.
POSTSCRIPT: While there is still concern about how to contain costs, especially at a time when health insurance and fuel oil costs continue to climb, there’s not a lot of talk on the Island about sending students to another district. On the North Fork, there is still talk about mergers, but it has mostly been rejected by taxpayers. But at the end of this school year, Greenport and Southold will be sharing a single superintendent as Southold Superintendent David Gamberg takes the reins from retiring Greenport Superintendent Michael Comanda.

Sprinkling moratorium on the docket

In 1994, the Town Board was scheduling a public hearing to discuss a moratorium on underground automatic irrigation systems. If enacted then, new systems would have been banned and the use of existing systems extended until August 25, 1994. The building inspector would have been told to suspend all existing permits where substantial improvements hadn’t been made. The aim was to ensure there wouldn’t be a rush on new systems while the town debated whether to ban the irrigation systems completely.
POSTSCRIPT: It was 2003 when the town imposed a delayed ban on automatic irrigation systems with a trigger date of September 1, 2013 for the ban to be implemented. Fast forward to today and a town Irrigation Committee is gathering information on the quality of the aquifer, the impact irrigation systems have on the water supply and how technology may have changed so that systems are far more efficient than they were 20 or even 10 years ago. The Town Board was to make a decision on the ban in May, but now will likely delay that decision until September 2014.

Anti-deer strategy

The town was looking into the use of Streiter anti-deer reflectors that are in use in some states with mixed results. The reflectors placed along the sides of roadways reflect headlights in such a way as to warn deer of approaching vehicles. As with just about every method of deer-control, there were reports of mixed results and no definitive proof that they decreased accidents resulting from the deer running into vehicles on the roadway. And the reflectors, even if they were 100 percent effective at keeping the deer off roadways, would solve only part of the problem since there would still be the issue of ticks feasting off the deer and spreading various diseases.
POSTSCRIPT: The town’s Deer and Tick Committee continues to explore how to deploy limited resources to try to control the tick population with most of the money going to pay for 4-posters that coat the necks of deer with a toxin that kills ticks. Some money is also being expended on culling the herd, although Shelter Island has rejected using sharpshooters.

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