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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Still drawing fun lovers seeking a game of miniature golf is this course at the Whale’s Tale that was revitalized with a nautical theme 20 years ago.
Still drawing fun lovers seeking a game of miniature golf is this course at the Whale’s Tale that was revitalized with a nautical theme 20 years ago.


Health Department warns of Spotted Fever

In May 1964, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services reported a single case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a disease then commissioner Dr. George Leone said was a rarity in this area.

There were seven cases reported in the county in 1962 and only one in 1963, but despite the decline, Dr. Leone was warning residents to take precautions and check themselves for ticks after being in grassy areas where the carriers of the disease dwell.

POSTSCRIPT: While other tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis are more common in this area today, an rare case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is still detected through blood tests.

Frankel dock application denied

In May 1984, Dr. Stanley Frankel lost his bid to extend an existing dock 120 feet into West Neck Creek to accommodate a bunker boat.

After most of the 50 neighbors who attended an earlier hearing on the application objected, the Town Board determined, on advice from its Docks & Waterways Committee, that the long dock would interfere with navigation in West Neck Creek and adversely affect other docks and aquatic life. Dr. Frankel had argued that other applications were considered without judging the sizes of boats that would be docked.

POSTSCRIPT: The same judgments that were brought to bear on this turn-down have continued to be considered by today’s Waterways Management Advisory Committee in recommending approvals or denials of applications.

What’s new for the summer

In the spring of 1994, the Whale’s Tale opened its doors at the intersection of Manhanset Road and Ram Island Drive with a new 18-hole miniature golf course and a building housing an ice cream parlor and gift shop. The site had previously been home to an old miniature golf course that had seen better days.

The new course was created with brightly colored pre-cast fiberglass figures, including a large whale sitting in the middle of a man-made bay.

POSTSCRIPT: The Whale’s Tale continues to do a brisk summer business, attracting both those in search of a fun game of miniature golf and/or an ice cream treat.

Mashomack in midst of visitors center renovation

In the spring of 2004, the visitors center was getting a makeover — its first in more than 100 years. When The Nature Conservancy bought  the Mashomack property in 1980, the building was in poor condition, according to preserve director Mike Laspia.

But until the building showed recent signs of structural weakening, there was no action to renovate it, he said. The building was lifted while a new foundation was laid and a full basement created and an addition was added to the east side of the structure.

Solar panels were installed along with waterless toilets and display space was added. Local fund raising paid for most of the $300,000 project.

POSTSCRIPT: In November 2012, the Town Board granted The Nature Conservancy a wetlands permit enabling it to move a house across the beach at the Mashomack Preserve.

The house, donated to The Nature Conservancy by Jeff and Jane Lightcap, was to be used for staff housing. It was barged from its site across Smith Cove to the preserve and placed well beyond the wetlands, closer to the manor house than a building that had been torn down and that the moved structure replaced, Mr.  Laspia said.


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