A look back: This week in Shelter Island history

JULIE LANE PHOTO | One of the original affordable houses built on Bowditch Road in the mid 1990s.

Consultant warns Task Force on housing needs

Affordable housing was Shelter Island’s prime problem in 2003, according to consultant Philip Herr. He was hired by the town to work with the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals in crafting recommendations for the Town Board to consider about changes in zoning codes. The problem of providing affordable housing “is of profound proportions, and will require effort if it is to be effectively addressed,” Mr. Herr said in his report to the town. In the mid 1990s, the town constructed six affordable houses on Bowditch Road over protests from some that home ownership shouldn’t be available to those who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to purchase property on Shelter Island. Families who qualified for the houses received subsidies of about $30,000 from state and federal grants to reduce the cost of the houses.
POSTSCRIPT: There continues to be an active Community Housing Board and Shelter Island Housing Options, Inc is still functioning, but there has been little call for affordables, Councilwoman Chris Lewis said in 2012.

Island will get first traffic light

In order to facilitate construction of the Chase Creek Bridge, Town Board members had to allow the New York State Department of Transportation the right to install traffic lights on Bridge Street. By using a single lane for both north- and south-bound traffic, the construction crew could completely remove the existing bridge and replace it in one step. The traffic light would provide control over that single traffic lane during construction.
POSTSCRIPT: Look around today; there are no traffic lights on Shelter Island.

Salary hikes disputed at budget hearing

Just 30 years ago, a handful of taxpayers showed up to protest planned salary increases contained in the Town Board’s 1984 budget proposal. Town Board members, who were receiving $3,750 were due to get a raise to $4,300. The town supervisor’s was projected to go to $20,000 from $18,000. Then Supervisor Mal Nevel said the raises were not decided in an across-the-board fashion, but based on moving salaries nearer to what other towns were paying as well as productivity. Mr. Nevel later said the town wasn’t trying to equalize salaries with neighboring towns. But added that town salaries had been “stymied” for years and said salaries had to be increased to catch up with the demands of jobs.
POSTSCRIPT: The supervisor and Town Board members in 2014 would see a 2 percent increase in salaries if the projected budget is approved.

Island group organizes Goldwater for President chapter

Just two weeks before President Kennedy was killed, Arizona senator Barry Goldwater was launching his campaign to oppose the incumbent and supporters organized to push for their candidate’s nomination by the Republican Party. Robert Conlin of Hay Beach led the local effort and said Mr. Goldwater was the grass roots candidate for the nomination. Mr. Goldwater won his party’s nomination, but went on to be defeated by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 by what was then the largest margin in history. He carried only six states and won 52 electoral votes to Mr. Johnson’s 486.
POSTSCRIPT: Although nationally there has been a movement to support Hillary Clinton running for President in 2016 and a number of Republicans have been talked about at possible candidates, there’s no local action here, given the focus on more local elections and the fact that President Obama has three years left in his term.