Letters to the Editor

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

To the Editor:

Is the health of an oyster more important than health of the children on Shelter Island? Several phosphor-impaired ponds in the Hamptons were deemed a public health risk after blue-green algae blooms were confirmed. A dog died after drinking pond water in East Hampton last year. There are numerous reports of humans and animals becoming ill in New York State and around the country.

Fresh Pond on Shelter Island is also polluted, as per the 2012 DEC 303(d) impaired water body list. The main pollutant is also phosphor. The resulting blue-green algae bloom on Fresh Pond usually appears in early spring (as it did this year) and in late summer. Even after the water clears, the toxins remain active in the water until the next winter. Last year, the bloom started in June and became more intense throughout the summer.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services originally demanded that swimming be prohibited on Fresh Pond. The town negotiated a compromise by posting the confusing and unenforceable “NOT A BATHING BEACH” sign at the Fresh Pond town landing. They also agreed that they would not promote swimming on the pond, although people still swim at their own risk. But what are the risks?

Other than the DEC inspections of Fresh Pond, the water quality is not otherwise monitored or periodically tested. It has been declared polluted due to fertilizer run off, road run off, septic systems and water fowl. It is also known that the always present e.coli bacteria levels spike for a few days after a rain storm. What are the blue-green algae cyanobacteria and coli form levels in Fresh Pond? How hazardous is it to humans and pets?

When necessary, other local ponds, lakes and beaches are closed because of dangerous bacteria levels. But Fresh Pond never is. (No testing, no problem.) Water borne illnesses might appear immediately or years down the road. Young children, seniors, pets and those with weakened immune systems are the most vulnerable. Each day, we witness unwitting parents allowing their toddlers and kids to swim and wade in the pond. They believe that the pond is sanctioned as safe by virtue of the beach parking permits required and the word “fresh” in Fresh Pond. It is not.

There is no notice at the town landing about the fact that Fresh Pond is declared polluted. Scientists at the SCDHS, DEC and SUNY Stony Brook are raising a “red flag” about swimming in toxic algae infested waters. Southampton is employing a new technique to remove the algae from Mill Pond, which is twice the size of Fresh Pond. We are doing nothing.

As town supervisor, Mr. Dougherty has often said (on this subject and others) that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” Mr. Dougherty has achieved his goal of a much less than perfect environment for people to recreate in. On Fresh Pond, advances in health science, warnings by experts and the state sanitary code are nullified by “tradition” and political egos in Town Hall.

The town must inform the public that “not a bathing beach” means that the polluted pond water is assumed unsafe. No one, no child, should be exposed to an unnecessary and preventable health risk. Governing by deception and omission is negligent, dishonest, and in this case, dangerous.
VINNIE NOVAK
Shelter Island

Googling Republicans

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to Ms. Georgiana Ketcham (see Your Letters, August 1).

I just googled “Republican” as you suggested, and am still downright confused as to why a Republican would be so against private fundraisers? It seems to me that someone so against “big government” would applaud the opportunity to donate to the causes that she finds personally important, as opposed to paying a general tax. The nonprofit organizations on Shelter Island work tirelessly year-round to keep this beautiful community thriving. Your comment insinuates that those who support fundraisers on Shelter Island are pompous, highbrow snobs. Hopefully you have not shamed an entire political party into not contributing to the charitable organizations they find important.

Regardless of political party affiliation, we all need to recognize the magnitude of good these private foundations accomplish for our little Island. Google that.
SAVANNAH HARMS
Shelter Island

Show some backbone

To the Editor:

After reading the Reporter’s August 1 article (“Zoning Board, homeowner locked in battle”) about the Ietta Silver Beach property, I simply must express my objection to the project.

OK, one neighbor condones the construction at 12 N. Silver Beach Road. On the other hand, Mr. Bennett, the Ietta’s attorney, even while on bended knee, is once again trying to use emotion, not reason, in defending the actions of his clients. In the end, it is the obligation of the owners to supervise the contractor, who apparently bit off more than he could chew and tried to get away with it. Mr. Bennett’s choice of words such as “punitive” and “significant hardship” in his spiel to obviate the results of ignorance and sleaziness (my opinion) on the part of his clients and their contractor, does not, and should not, fly. The owners have only themselves to blame for any financial loss, and restitution can be sought through legal channels from their contractor.

Mr. Bennett’s defense of the owners by asking “how is anyone harmed” and “whose ox is gored by this” is simply unprofessional. It’s an indication of his lack of respect not only for the laws of our town, but more so, for the hardworking members of our Town and Zoning boards. He must think, along with his clients and their contractor, that our laws can be flaunted at will and then claiming financial hardship will supersede, even if it is 100 percent self-inflicted!

By willfully disregarding vital stipulations in the building permit, there is no one to blame other than owners and contractors who are trying to hoodwink the ZBA members, though they may otherwise be “law abiding citizens.”
Mr. Bennett’s pathetic appeal (in my opinion) should not be given any credence — it is not deserving! Besides, it is time that we, as a town, show some backbone, so as not to be derided by all who look to pull the wool over our eyes!
BARBARA ALLEN-LIEBLEIN
Shelter Island

Preserving our history

To the Editor:

The Shelter Island School held part one of a two-part Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on June 13 in the school’s auditorium. The Selection/Induction Committee wants to express its sincere appreciation to the 10K Community Fund for its very generous gift that supported the purchase of beautiful wood frames, as well as plaques and certificates for the individual and team inductees.

Now the committee and school are seeking additional financial support to help enclose the beautiful wooden showcases that were constructed in the hallway just outside the gymnasium area. By enclosing the showcase, the picture plaques and write-ups can be defined as a special venue where these artifacts can be displayed, enjoyed and preserved. The remaining portion of the showcases can be used to display additional awards which will highlight the school’s past and current athletic history.

Our goal is to raise approximately $5,000 which will enable the school to complete the hallway construction project in its entirety. Thank you for your assistance and your generosity.
Anyone interested in making a donation can do so by writing a check payable to:

Shelter Island School c/o“Showcases” and send it to:
Shelter Island School
Attn: Showcases/Business Office
P.O. Box 2015
Shelter Island, NY 11964

Your continued support is greatly appreciated. We are looking forward to our next Induction Ceremony on November 29, 2013.
JIM COLLIGAN
Chairman, Shelter Island
Athletic Hall of Fame Committee

Bike guru

To the Editor:

Last summer I saw your article about Cris DiOrio and his bike shed where he teaches riders to fix their own bikes. I finally got to Cris’s shop last Thursday on Sylvan Road. Cris is a wonderful teacher, imparting his knowledge in a way that translates into skill for the student. I came away with my bike problem fixed (by me) and a much improved understanding of the workings of my bike. The entire experience was so much more rewarding than I’d have guessed. Thanks Cris.
PAT KING
Shelter Island

Memory trigger

To the Editor:

Seeing the cover photo (“Moving house,” August 8) brought back a story my mother, Bea Hunkele Brennan, used to tell about a hot summer night that must have been around 1948.

My grandmother, Mildred Hammond Hunkele and Marguerite Young were babies together in Greenport during the late 1800s. While Marguerite remained a full-time resident of the area and my grandmother’s family ended up in “the city” and spending summers on Shelter Island, the families remained connected through the decades.

There was a brutal hot spell that particular summer and my newlywed parents were suffering away in Brooklyn, wishing for some respite from the heat. My grandmother suggested that they contact Tom and Marguerite to see if a visit to Shelter Island was possible. After some hesitation, they did and it was.

My parents drove out and were so relieved to feel the breeze coming off the bay at the Youngs’ house. This was my father’s first taste of Shelter Island and he loved it. My father was also a huge Yankee fan and wondered if there was any way to find out how the game had gone. My mother suggested that he ask Marguerite, who proceeded to take him through the game and all of the highlights that she had picked up while listening to the game on the radio. Another loyal fan!

This is a small story about one night in the history of these families and Shelter Island, yet it sums up so much for me.

Thanks for the memory.
TERI BRENNAN
Shelter Island

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