The Town Board opened discussions on possible changes to the town code on beach parking passes.
At the board’s work session Tuesday, Heather Reylek and Susan Cincotta, representing the Chamber of Commerce, made a request that this summer the town issue day parking passes for Island beaches.
Currently there is a residency requirement to get passes at rates of $35 a week, $75 a month or a full season at $200.
But Ms. Reylek pointed out that other East End towns had day passes and it makes sense for Shelter Island. She said the chamber had heard “numerous complaints” that there was no way some tourists just visiting for the day could have a swim. People come to the Island in the summer months for a day to eat in restaurants, shop in stores and look into the real estate market, she said, and it would be a welcoming gesture if they could have the chance to sample the Island’s beaches.
“For the sake of good will, why not a day pass?” Ms. Reylek asked. “Why require people to stay over night?”
She noted that the town could limit the number of passes. An idea that the passes could be obtained online gained no traction at the meeting. But a suggestion that a brightly colored placard with the date inscribed, to be placed in the back window of vehicles and purchased at the Town Clerk’s office during the week and at the Recycling Center on Sundays, met with general agreement.
“There’s a short season here,” Ms. Cincotta said. “We’re trying to help businesses to promote what we are, a tourist destination.”
Police Chief Jim Read, prefacing his remarks by saying he was not for or against day passes at this point, said there was “a resident issue here. Is the town at this point ready for non-residents to go to our beaches?”
Councilman Paul Shepherd said issuing day passes was “the right thing to do. He noted that the Island at times didn’t have the most welcoming reputation. “To some degree we’re proud of our orneriness,” Mr. Shepherd added. “We embrace it. But it’s not a particularly friendly way to be.”
Board members agreed to look into the issue further.
On another request to change the town code, First Assistant Fire Chief Will Anderson said the law on the books penalizing false alarms sent to the department should be revisited. The town code reads: “Any owner or lessee of property having a fire alarm device shall pay to the Town Clerk the following charge for each and every false emergency alarm to which the fire Department responds, in each calendar year.”
The code states there’s no charge for the first false alarm, but the second one has a fine of $200, the third is $400 and the fourth is $600. Fines go up $200 for each false alarm after that.
The code also states that the collected fines will be split evenly between the town and the fire district.
The resident should not be liable to alarms installed incorrectly or not maintained by the company that sold them and installed them, Mr. Anderson said. “Those who are victims of an alarm company who isn’t doing its job should not be fined,” he added.
Mr. Anderson said the law is not accomplishing what it was intended for, that “we’re discouraging people on fixed incomes from having fire protection.”
In addition, there is nothing in the law that determines that the Fire Department can designate an alarm is false, and the law is silent on where and how someone fined can get relief if it wasn’t their fault.
Chief Read disagreed on both counts. “The practice is the fire chief says to a police officer, ‘This is not a false alarm and we don’t designate it as a false alarm,’” the chief said.
And on the method to get relief for fines, Chief Read said the issue should be taken up with the Town Attorney.
But Mr. Anderson said there was nothing in the law specifically on either issue.
Supervisor Jim Dougherty said the matter would be on a future work session agenda.
In other business, the board heard from Kolina Reiter, who is against the town hiring a professional to take over deer management.
Diane Anderson told the board said she is “frustrated” the new doctor at the Town Medical Center didn’t take her insurance, which is one of the major companies.
“I want to stay on the Island for my doctors,” Ms. Anderson said. “I have enough doctors I have to go to off-Island, and now I have go for my GP.”