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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO One of many volunteers who staffed the Shelter Island Public Library in 1984, Dorothy Shaw was helping to prep for the 100th anniversary back then.

One of many volunteers who staffed the Shelter Island Public Library in 1984, Dorothy Shaw was helping to prep for the 100th anniversary back then.

GOP chairman critical of Griffing appointments

Suffolk County Republican Chairman Arthur Cromarty in July 1964 criticized Evans K. Griffing for appointments to a commission formed to explore establishing a separate county for the East End Towns.

While acknowledging that Mr. Griffing’s choices were good, he said they should have included some non-government officials who would have significant contributions to make to the discussion. Mr. Griffing, a former Shelter Island supervisor, was chairing the special commission. The action came in the wake of a Supreme Court decision calling for legislative reapportionment based on population rather than area and East Enders feared their representation would be cut back.

Mr. Griffing said at the time he was loathe to have any division take place between Suffolk County and East End towns, “but if the courts force us, it’s all we can do.”

POSTSCRIPT: Driven by varying motives throughout the year, the call to secede from Suffolk County and form Peconic County continues to be a live issue to this day. But there is no real evidence that such a split is apt to take place. Still, East End legislators are often heard complaining that other parts of the county get more attention when it comes to doling out money and taking actions that most benefit towns to the west.

Town library celebrates its 100th birthday

In July 1984, they were rolling out the red carpet for a celebration of the Shelter Island Public Library that then boasted about 18,000 volumes and a record collection considered second to none. The library had been in its present spot since 1965, though its first home was a small wooden building on school grounds, approximately where the gymnasium sits today.

While proud of what existed then, librarian Peggy Dickerson described the operation as “a small country library.”

POSTSCRIPT: It may be only 30 years, but today’s library, providing access to a wide array of media and activities, continues to serve the Shelter Island community and extended summer community in ways that weren’t even imagined in 1984.

Warnings issued on water use

The Shelter Island Town Board and Heights Property Owners Corporation, following a three-month drought, agreed in July 1994 to each impose separate water use restrictions and a similar declaration was expected from Dering Harbor.

The town’s declaration called for avoidance of “unnecessary use” of water in order to conserve it, but didn’t specifically define what it considered “unnecessary use.” The Heights put restrictions on lawn sprinklers with regard to hours and frequency and threatened fines to those who violated the rules.

At the same time, then Heights General Manager Bernie Jacobson said the effort would be to enforce the restrictions through peer pressure rather than to impose fines.

POSTSCRIPT: The Irrigation Committee is about to offer its advice to the Town Board about what restrictions, if any, should be imposed on automatic irrigation systems and offer other recommendations to conserve water and avoid salting wells.

District names interim superintendent

In July 2004, faced with the long-term absence because of illness of Superintendent Ken Lanier, the Board of Education appointed former Superintendent Gil DeCicco. While he said he was sad about the circumstances of Mr. Lanier’s illness, he was pleased to be back and would stay as long as needed. At the same time, the Board accepted the early resignation of one of its members, Amber Williams, who said she couldn’t devote the time the job warranted. Ms. Williams term wasn’t set to expire until 2005.
POSTSCRIPT: Today’s Board of Education has embarked on a search to replace Superintendent Michael Hynes, who leaves on July 25 to take the helm at Patchogue-Medford.

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