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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor



To the Editor:
A couple of errors in the October 26 Reporter article sharing the happy news that the town came in with a modest 3.6 percent budget increase for 2018  — the important one to correct being the misstatement that $1 million is in the general fund balance.

As I advised in my email to the Reporter, as of December 31, 2016 we had $1,356,656 in the general fund balance (our “rainy day fund”), having added $452,681 last year, and so far this year we have favorable budget balances, which should be adding further to the general fund balance (only an estimate at this point, not audited).

The opening reference in the article was to a bleak budget figure last week.

This was something I, as your supervisor and chief financial officer, was totally unaware of until three different people (including a former town councilman) rushed into my office exclaiming, “Jim, what the heck is going on? The Reporter website is saying the 2018 Town Budget is up 15 percent or some such.

Are we going back to the old days?”

The Reporter had knowledge of this staff mathematical error before the supervisor and instantly publicized it. Curious. In any event, believe me, the simple mathematical error was corrected in a jiffy.
Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island
The supervisor is correct, there is $1.3 million in the fund balance, not $1 million. But as for panicked people rushing into Mr. Dougherty’s office, there was never a report of a 15 percent rise, and they should have read the October 26 Reporter story, which begins: “If Shelter Island’s budget was looking bleak at the end of last week, a weekend of review revealed that an error in a formula that sent numbers soaring was balanced by other formula errors that brought them back to earth.” — Ed.

An appeal to the voters
To the Editor:
My name is Marcus Kaasik and I am running for Town Board.

Some of you may know me, and many of you, if not all, know at least one member of my family.

Our family moved here in the 1960s. I was the first to be born here in 1969. My earliest memories are of clamming in front of the monastery with my bare feet before I could even swim as my mother watched, and fishing for flounder and blowfish with my father in Coecles Harbor.

I went to all 14 years of the Shelter Island school system. Beginning with preschool in Mrs. Klenawicus’s basement in Eeltown to kindergarten at the big school and all 12 years, graduating in 1987.

After high school I went to Europe to study developmental and cognitive psychology for two years. This is where I learned to appreciate new and fresh perspectives. I came back to the Island and started my construction business, and at the same time, enrolled in college, this time in Philadelphia where I studied finance and economics at Temple University for five years.

I continue to be a carpenter and furniture maker. Some of my pieces are in Island galleries and my work has been displayed in books and magazines.

I am a lifelong boater and passionate Shelter Island fisherman. For some years I wrote the fishing column for the Reporter. I continue to fish and I feed my family with my catch. Therefore, I am very sensitive to what we put on our grounds that can get into our water and bays.

I am 48 years old. I have a 10-year-old daughter in the Island school system. We often walk down the same beaches I did when I was her age collecting clams, crabs and fish.

All of my life experiences past, present and progressing are the foundation of my emotional connection to the landscape and people of this Island. All this knowledge is valuable and will be very helpful on the Town Board when making laws that affect our people, environment and future.

Please vote for me.
Shelter Island

All of himself
To the Editor:
This is my first letter to the editor. I’ve been in business here for 30-plus years and have five siblings living here full time.

We all love this Island, but not one of us is more spiritually and emotionally connected here than my brother, Marcus.

I was very excited when I was informed he was running for Town Council. His brilliant mind and complete understanding of the Island will be an asset to our Town Board. He began his life here and plans to stay. His knowledge of the Island from the perspectives of land and sea is like no one I know. He has always avidly participated in town meetings. He listens and observes all with perfect recollection. It is all compiled and ready to share with you.

Here we have one who is not only throwing his hat in the ring, but all of himself.
Shelter Island

Tribute to Chris
To the Editor:
As we near Election Day, I wish to extend my gratitude to Chris Lewis for her many years of service as a member of the Shelter Island Town Board.

I served for four years on the board with Chris, and recognize her as a person of extraordinary integrity, sense of fairness and compassion. Chris took on the tasks others wouldn’t touch, and has represented several important constituencies loyally and consistently throughout her tenure. The fact that she has decided to step down now reinforces all of the above. She will be missed.

I hope that the community agrees that Amber Brach-Williams keeps a balance that Chris represented, and certainly brings financial skills otherwise currently lacking in our representation. I also feel that Gary Gerth and Marcus Kaasik will bring freshly needed outlooks to town hall.
Shelter Island

Reviewing the STR law
To the Editor:
Now would appear to be an opportune time to review where we stand as a community relative to the issue of short term rentals (STRs).

A first summer with the law at least nominally in place has passed, and the date of the agreed upon Town Board review of how it has worked is fast approaching.
Elections, with significant differences in prospective Town Board candidates’ points of view on this issue, are also fast approaching on November 7.

I would offer two observations on this subject at this time. First, the law as drafted appears to respond to the perceived needs of the vast majority of Island residents and voters because: it reinforces a zoning code that already limits business activities in residential zones; it restrains the already precipitous decline in available longer term affordable/work force housing; it confirms the high priority we accord to the preservation of the uniquely residential nature of our community; and it confirms our desire to impose similar constraints on this activity as do the other four East End towns.

Second, while more detailed and formal evaluation of how we all fared during the first six months under the law are warranted and will be forthcoming, initial ad hoc assessments of its adequacy by several individuals on both sides of the issue have shown that a significantly lower incidence of noise and disturbance complaints has been observed, and high occupancy and revenue levels by homeowners renting lawfully have been registered.

Therefore, while more data is necessary to corroborate the above, it could be that the law as drafted and approved by the majority of the Town Board may equate at least roughly to what was sought by the community — an acceptable compromise such that both sides can achieve a reasonable level of satisfaction.
Shelter Island

Remembering Joe Napolitano
To the Editor:
We are fortunate to live on this Island. There are many great people who live here and do great things for the community. I take my hat off to them all.

However, there is a person I would like to acknowledge who, while known to some of you, spent these last years out of the limelight. To me, Joe Napolitano was one of the strongest people I ever met. I first encountered Joe when our kids were young and involved in Little League. Joe did not miss many games and was generally there in the stands to see his twins play. I thought to myself — what a great guy.

As time passed a horrible disease tried over and over again to make Joe its prisoner, but he would have none of it. He always rose above it even when those of us around him thought otherwise. I was not overly close to him, but our paths continued to cross over the ensuing years and he taught me a lesson about just how much a positive attitude matters.

By sheer strength of his positive outlook, Joe continued to have a real and meaningful life, persevering over a situation that would have done lesser people in. I am now sorry that I did not see him more; our last contact came about three weeks ago when I answered the phone.

It was Joe, he had called me by mistake, and we spent a half an hour on that wrong number and I am happy about that.
Thanks for everything, Joe!
Shelter Island

A pleasure
To the Editor:
It has been my pleasure — yes, pleasure — to do most of the soliciting for contributions to the two events — the Election Day Eve Ham Dinner and the St. Nicholas Day Fair Raffle — at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

In talking to the donors, I always mention that their gifts and their businesses will be publicized to make the lucky raffle winners and everyone else aware of those individuals and business owners who support our endeavors towards helping numerous needy and worthy organizations on and off Shelter Island.

Many of our donors are asked by others for contributions, but I feel especially grateful for all the people who were so generous at my request on behalf of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Women.

So, please everyone now aware of our endeavor to help others, kindly show your appreciation of the donors by actively supporting them.
Shelter Island

Keep it real, Historical Society
To the Editor:
I bring to your attention the new addition to Havens House.

The Shelter Island Historical Society was formed to display and maintain examples of how our founding families braved the elements and hardships of colonial living.

The closeness of the fresh water pond to the Havens House was by no means an accident. Fresh water had to be carried in buckets into the house for the use of the Havens family.

The existence of historical sites such as these are wonderful examples of what our founding families had to endure, to create the original 13 colonies and what was to become the United States.

Places such as the Havens House are meant to be classic examples of the difficulties our founding families had in everyday life. Mr. Havens had no access to diesel-powered concrete trucks to deliver high-strength concrete for the foundations to his original structure.

Nor did he have steel re-bar, nor wire mesh to put into his original home.  Kiln-dried lumber and plywood sheathing were other construction ingredients never even heard of in colonial days.

The new addition to the Havens House is so far removed from that type of thinking that it fails to inform young people the true purpose of an historic location.  People who chose this modern type of addition now under construction are quite proud of it. If it were anywhere else besides attached to a true colonial structure, it would be something to be proud of.

Sadly, I am afraid this new addition misses the mark for any true colonial structure.

The town’s adjoining parcel held a golden opportunity for the Society to construct a complete, independent structure for the new history center. In addition, perhaps a better parking area could also have been considered on that nearby property.

The present parking situation is very poor, to say the least. Talk about threats to the fresh water sources here! The parking of cars, trucks, etc. next to Mr. Haven’s fresh water supply would give him much concern if he were here today.

How can local politicians show so much concern for our fresh water sources, and then let a willy-nilly use of a farmers market on the grounds of the Society be a weekly event?
Shelter Island