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Letters to the Editor: Cell tower, McCrossin, deer


Get real on tower
To the Editor:
I attended last Monday’s Fire Commissioners meeting on Mr. Mooney’s cell tower (“Residents pack cell tower meeting,” February 27). The Commissioners identified three communication needs:

1. Shorter term improvement to the Fire and Police department low band radio systems;
2. Longer term (3 to 5 years) conversion from low band to the high band radio system;
3. Elimination of residential cellphone dead zones on the north end of Shelter Island.

The short-term low band topic is important to firefighter safety. I think the commissioners made a strong case that a firefighter who is not in contact with others is at significant personal risk. Sadly, it seems to me very unlikely that any new system (tower, antenna nodes, whatever) could be installed quickly enough to improve the low band weakness before being made obsolete by the high band system.

The need for the high band system is a “must do,” in order to communicate with county and Southhold fire departments. It will provide certain radio contact to personnel throughout the Island. The commissioners advised that the high band system will be costly, as it requires a tall tower (140 feet was mentioned), updated central radio command center, and new radios for all of our service personnel. They have budgeted for some portion of the costs, but taxpayers may need to add additional money to install all elements of the high band system. If it is true that a tall tower is mandatory, having a commercial entity, such as Mr. Mooney’s company, pay for it sounds like a win for Shelter Islander taxpayers.

The reduction of residential cell phone dead zones would be nice to have, and if I have the story correct, that is the financial driver for Mr. Mooney’s tower. Cell phone booster gizmos may also satisfy improved service.

Given all this, I think future tower discussion should focus on the longer-term high band topic — the best functional location, reduction of the high band conversion costs to taxpayers, tower aesthetics and safety considerations like fall-down zones and visibility at night.
Shelter Island

Facts first
To the Editor:
The reporting of the meeting regarding the proposed Cobbetts Lane cell tower cites reports of “dead spots” and “dead zones and dropped calls” for public safety personnel.

No engineering studies from the proposed contractor were reported. Before further consideration, I urge that these assertions be settled or at least explored with a technical study. It is difficult to impose a visual burden on our rural community to endure for a long time without any cost/benefit analysis. Further, if the primary goal is to provide coverage for our responders, I would also urge that less intrusive options be explored before a large cell tower is approved.
Shelter Island

Defending McCrossin
To the Editor:
I have known and worked for the McCrossin family, maintaining their home for over 22 years and could not sit idly by while they are being dragged through the mud. (“Board wrestles with ‘wedding house,’” February 27.) During this time, the focus of their summer rentals has been and continues to be that of a full season rental. It was not until the market crash of 2008 that this climate changed for not only the McCrossins but for all of those who rent their homes for full seasons.

Yes, there have been occasional weddings on the property over the years, but never has it been a weekly event as implied by [Building Inspector William Banks and Building Permit Coordinator Mary Wilson], let alone a commercial venture. Those that have used the property for their event have always rented for one or two weeks, never just a day or weekend and have used that time to enjoy the Island and contribute to its economy. Why do I feel this resonates of a “Salem Witch Hunt” mentality?

I have never found evidence of excessive litter in my examining of the property after an event and would be curious as to how many complaints of noise were made to our police department per event. I also polled several other clients of mine who live in close proximity to the McCrossin property and none have ever complained about the occasional wedding that has taken place. During these inquiries, I also learned that none of them had been contacted by the Ram Island Association regarding this issue. Who were these “20” selective members?

I take issue with Mr. Clancy, for he purports to be a non-partisan journalist, but as evidenced by his articles, this is not the case. What type of responsible journalism is this?

My answer to this is that it is not —  his sensationalist and inaccurate reporting is shameful.

I took it upon myself to contact NorthForkWeddings.com owner Judy MCleery to inquire about the “alleged” listing of 89 Ram Island Drive. She confirmed that this property has never been listed on her site and she had no knowledge of Mr. McCrossin. Where did this information come from? Why didn’t anyone think to do some simple fact checking?

I myself live in an area of the Island where “events” have begun to take place in the past year (primarily for profit). There is amplified music, traffic, some of it parking in my driveway and lining the narrow lane that runs by my home, laughter and loud talking into the night. Do I complain? Only when my driveway is being used and directly to the property management.

As Ms. Travis-Messer stated, Shelter Island is and has been a vacation destination for over a century. Summer is a short season and we all try to use this to our advantage in some shape, manner or form. I feel this situation unfortunately portrays a clash between neighbors who are fortunate not to have the need to rent their home to maintain its costs and those who are not. Can’t we all try to get along?
Shelter Island
Mr. McCrossin has declined an interview with the Reporter on the issue. All reporting has come from public meetings and correspondence to the Town Board from Mr. McCrossin and others. The Reporter has also quoted Ms. Travis-Messer in her defense of Mr. McCrossin. —Ed.

I’m with Jack
To the Editor:
Thank you, Jack Kiffer, for your wonderful article (“Re-thinking Deer Management, February 27).
Shelter Island

No knowledge
To the Editor:
The ignorance spewed forth in the recent “Prose & Comments” column  by Mr. Kiffer is a sad commentary on the author’s lack of knowledge, and a disappointing endorsement by the editorial staff of this paper by not encouraging a knowledgeable discourse.

Should one choose to believe that there is no deer/tick problem on Shelter Island and that tick-borne diseases are at “acceptable” levels, despite all the scientific and common sense evidence, then one might agree we do not need to spend another dollar on 4-posters, deer management and tick reduction.

However, most rational people do recognize a problem.

Recognition of a “problem” by a worried Shelter Island public is what led to the formation of the Deer & Tick Committee in the first place; the function of which is not to lead “inefficient, ill-informed, naïve and non-functioning government,” but to provide well-reasoned recommendations to the Town Board.

Perhaps that advice is not well received by everyone, but I can assure you that the volunteer members of the committee spend a great deal of time and effort researching and consulting with scientific experts prior to offering any advice. Describing our efforts as “self-serving” and “non-productive” shows little understanding of the mission, efforts and accomplishments of this committee.

The proposed wildlife manager would be a person hired to oversee the tasks of deer management and tick control in a more efficient manner, thereby relieving those town employees currently assuming those responsibilities in addition to their already full-time jobs.

You don’t have to agree with all the recommendations put forth by the committee, but you should realize they are the considered opinions of a group of dedicated individuals that includes professionals in the fields of wildlife science, medicine and public health, and not the ramblings of individuals ignorant of the facts.
Chair, Shelter Island Town  Deer & Tick Committee
The Reporter doesn’t “endorse” any position or opinion taken in its Prose & Comments column. —Ed.

Save what’s left
To the Editor:
I and my husband are newcomers on Shelter Island. We have just completed our first year here, so I hesitate to speak up as I respect that many residents have lived here all their lives. Who am I to waltz in and offer advice? But as I read the paper and see all the land for sale, I am torn. Yes, selling houses at Hampton prices brings in profit for the sellers, their neighbors, the real estate agents and the general economy. But I would like to share a cautionary tale.

I grew up in an old farmhouse in Amagansett. The Amagansett of my youth was a genuine community: the post office, a small supermarket and hardware store were in the center of the village, much like what we find here. My child self could still walk across Main Street in Amagansett to visit my grandmother who lived off Windmill Lane, down past the horse pasture, up the hill with woods on both sides. Our house had huge potato fields behind it. On a summer night you could see the Milky Way blaze across the sky in the silence, a silence broken only by the litany of the waves.

But now Amagansett has gone the way of the “Disney Hamptons.” Our street is transformed into huge homes squashed into small lots.

On summer evenings music blasts from the bars, and holiday visitors talk loudly as they stumble down our small lane at two in the morning. It is now the home of celebrities and the one-percenters who want to live in “The Hamptons.” The young people who grow up there must leave because they cannot afford a simple Cape or ranch, even if they could find one. Every day the trade parade testifies to the transformation of a town into a vacation park. The workers must live elsewhere and commute to their jobs. The open fields and farms are gone. As one real estate agent put it, the lanes have been finally “upgraded.”

We had to leave Amagansett since our house was sold, demolished and replaced with a McMansion. But then we found Shelter Island. We fell in love with our old house, the beauty of the shore, the open farmland, the groves of trees, and the wonderful mix of ages and income brackets, and especially the extraordinarily friendly and welcoming people.

As a newcomer I know I have no place to argue against the financial awards of developing property, selling old homes and transforming them into mansions. But be careful what you wish for. Visit Amagansett, especially on a summer day, and ask yourself: Is this what we want for Shelter Island? We already appreciate the pride that everyone takes in living here on “the Rock.”

In the 1940s, Aldo Leopold wrote a landmark essay called “The Land Ethic” in which he argues for an intrinsic value to land as land, as an eco-system that deserves respect in its own right, apart from its monetary value to humans. I wish the town, county and private organizations could be even more proactive in helping Shelter Island preserve its open spaces before they are lost to development.
Shelter Island