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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


The 25th Amendment to the Constitution ­— dealing with presidential succession in the event of a temporary disability, resignation or death — was adopted.

United States troops began one of the largest air mobile assaults of the Vietnam war aimed at destroying Viet Cong military bases.

Elvis Presley released “How Great Thou Art” that won a Grammy for the ‘Best Sacred Performance.’

Moscow forbade its satellite states from establishing diplomatic relationships with what was then West Germany.

American actress Lili Taylor, who has won a prime time Emmy for “American Crime” as lead actress in a limited series or movie was born in Glencoe, Illinois.

And on Shelter Island …

Brutal winter of 1977 has residents awaiting thaw

A particularly brutal winter with more than a few snowstorms had Islanders looking ahead by late February to what they hoped would be an early spring.

But mounds of ice were still having their way with ferries and other boat traffic coming in and out of the Island and there were plenty of warnings that Old Man Winter might not be willing to give up the hold on winter weather.

Despite persistent cold, at the end of February the Reporter  opted to celebrate the hardy spirit of residents here who went about their days working and pursuing leisure activities with an attitude of defiance toward the cold and ice.

POSTSCRIPT: We’ve had only a couple of snowstorms of any significance and a seesawing of temperatures from frigid to almost spring-like this year. Still, some Islanders who stayed while the snowbirds went south are experiencing cabin fever,  hoping that the swings in temperature will soon give way to honest spring warmth.

Criteria needed for state land purchases

The year 1987 and the town was awaiting state criteria for land acquisition that would affect whether sensitive properties along Gardiners Bay might be bought with state money.

Country Legislator Tony Bullock was heading a task force that helped  develop the town’s bid to preserve fragile lands in Hay Beach and on the Ram Island Causeway.

But word came that the state would be putting $30 million to work on acquisitions of such sites instead of the $250 million that had been expected.

The needs throughout the East End were estimated to cost between $125 and $150 million.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, thanks to the creation of the Community Preservation Fund, East End municipalities can acquire land in need of preservation with tax money that flows into its coffers from purchases of real estate who pay a 2 percent tax.

Towns often look to do deals in cooperation with Suffolk County and/or New York State, but can opt to do some on their own.

Town gets okay to sue LILCO for fraud

Shelter Island 20 years ago got a go-ahead from a state Supreme Court judge to file a suit against LILCO on six counts, including fraud, deceptive practices, negligence and breach of contract.

The town was seeking a judgment for back taxes it said the utility owed after it was promised an additional $275,000 annually for allowing LILCO to install a nitrogen-cooled power line in 1992.

It took until May of 1997 for a negotiated settlement to be reached and the court imposed a non-disclosure clause on the settlement. LILCO admitted no wrong doing but paid the town $400,000.

POSTSCRIPT: Islanders may have had plenty to complain about when it came to LILCO and LIPA, but since PSEG has been on the job, the utility company’s  response to outages has been rapid .

PSEG has kept its word about stationing crews here throughout major storms to ensure that if lines go down, they are repaired quickly. Town officials from Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. and Police Chief Jim Read have praised the job PSEG has done for Islanders.

Objections to beach concessions heard

Islanders weren’t crazy about commercial food concessions at town beaches 10 years ago.

A proposal from Gerry Corva of Hay Beach to establish a concession had come before the Town Board and the feedback was swift from residents who let it be known they weren’t enamoured of the idea. Mr. Corva had also requested that he be the only operator of a beach concession and was told earlier that wasn’t going to happen.

Without an exclusive, then Supervisor Alfred Kilb Jr. said he didn’t think the business would be viable and knew he and his fellow Town Board members wouldn’t grant an exclusive. Other Town Board members said they heard from constituents who opposed the idea.

The town had no concession permits and no prohibition to peddling in public areas and there had been ice cream trucks that had done so in the past. Mr. Corva was looking to park what he called a “mini diner” at beaches from early morning until after dark.

POSTSCRIPT: A few years ago there was a request from a young man to sell ice cream at Crescent Beach from a bicycle equipped with a freezer but that didn’t fly.

One concern at the time was that such an operation would hurt business for the Island’s two ice cream stores — the Tuck Shop and Whale’s Tail — that are permanent structures, paying taxes in the town.

Still, there are no provisions banning such operations or establishing a means for licensing them.

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