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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.

CORRECTION: The three Apollo 1 astronauts who perished in a launch pad fire  50 years ago were Lieutenant Colonel Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Lieutenant Colonel Edward H. White and Lieutenant Commander Robert B. Chaffee. One of several sites used to compile this history incorrectly identified the three men.


Muhammed Ali knocked out Zora Folley in the seventh round to win the heavyweight boxing title.

Students at the University of Michigan held the first teach-in after the United States bombing of North Vietnam.

NASA halted further training for three scheduled manned space missions to overhaul the Apollo program in light of the January fire that killed Apollo 1 astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham.

American figure skater Debi Thomas — 1986 World Champion, 1988 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time U.S. National Champion — was born in Poughkeepsie, New York

“Homecoming” and “Cabaret” took home top honors at the 21st Annual Tony Awards ceremony.

And on Shelter Island . . .

County stalls ferry rate action

The Shelter Island and Greenport Ferry Company (North Ferry) got a delay from the Suffolk County Legislature on its bid to raise fares. The company, owned by the Heights Property Owners Corporation, requested the rate hike to meet rising expenses, including the purchase of a new boat that was being built in Maine.

The legislature’s delay resulted from approval of the hike by the county Office of Budget Review, but with the approval came a recommendation for the rate hike to be spread over a two-year period.

Legislators wanted time to study that recommendation before taking action.

POSTSCRIPT: There has been no mention of a fare hike request, but Greenporters are now pushing North Ferry to take a rate request to the county to allow for a $1 per vehicle addition to fares. That money would be paid by the company to the village for maintenance of roads on the Greenport side.

East End supes mull taxes, housing, insurance

At a meeting of the East End Supervisors and Mayors Association 30 years ago, the main issues for discussion were the amount of taxes paid by the local municipalities to Suffolk County, the need for affordable housing and escalating costs of insurance.

Not only were the East End officials concerned that their taxpayers were sending much more in taxes to the county than they were getting back in services, but Southampton Supervisor Martin Lang said despite his taxpayers were paying far more than taxpayers in Babylon, despite that town have a much higher population.

Riverhead Supervisor Joseph Janowski talked about his town opting for self-insurance to overcome high premiums. But he was cautioned by his colleagues that the small pool of money in its insurance pool could easily get wiped out by one major multi-million suit.

As for affordable housing, all East End municipalities were struggling with resistance from residents who didn’t want the housing in their neighborhoods.

POSTSCRIPT: If the issues sound familiar, it’s because they continue to be concerns 30 years later for East End municipalities.

James Read is appointed to rank of sergeant

It was in March 1997 that the Town Board appointed Jim Read to the rank of sergeant in the Shelter Island Police Department. He had joined the Shelter Island department 10 years earlier; took a leave of absence to serve with the Suffolk County Police Department as a full-time patrol officer from October 1991 to June 1992; and became acting sergeant on Shelter Island in July 1996.

POSTSCRIPT: Chief Read runs the Shelter Island Police Department today.

Commission strives for consensus to revise community housing law

Just 10 years ago the town’s Community Housing Commission was debating questions of legislating affordable housing. Conversations involved who would be eligible for such housing, how the town would regulate properties involved.

Following a public forum on the subject the month before, the commission sought critics of the proposal to bring constructive suggestions for changes to the table.

Among the issues for the commission to discuss following the March meeting were whether preferences should go to seniors or people in the local workforce. Rather than identify a single group, members were leaning toward credits based on benefits to the community of each applicant.

POSTSCRIPT: The Community Housing Board has a public forum planned for March 27 at Town Hall at which a group of employers, public officials, representatives from the school, library, police, firefighters, emergency services volunteers and others will be discussing the needs and offering suggestions for ways to meet those housing needs on the Island. The forum is slated for 7 p.m.

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