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This week in Shelter Island history

COURTESY PHOTO It was literally raining inch worms on Shelter Island back in 1964.

It was literally raining inch worms on Shelter Island back in 1964.

Inch worms invade the community

In June 1964, Shelter Island residents were besieged by an infestation of inch worms said to be so thick there were areas like Ram Island where the worms spun webs that were so heavy driving became difficult.

They were literally dropping from trees, especially in the Rams and Silver Beach, and advice was not to spray them, but to wait until black birds eradicated them, which had happened years earlier. A Menantic Road resident found that hosing down oak trees on which the worms liked to feed provided some relief.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s concerns are with ticks that carry diseases, including Lyme, and aren’t easily eradicated by birds or other predators.

Heights parking poses problems

In June 1984, a subject of concern for the Town Board was what to do about parking problems in Shelter Island Heights. Various solutions were being studied with respect to eliminating parking in some areas of the Heights while trying to identify parking in other areas. At issue was the reality that Shelter Island Heights is a private community even though it contains the downtown stores and doesn’t close off its streets, many of which provide connections from North Ferry to other parts of the Island. But residents were seeking a solution that would maintain the ambiance they sought. Parking meters were also considered, but not installed.

POSTSCRIPT: The issue of insufficient parking in the Heights during the spring, summer and early fall seasons persists with no easy answers.

SCWA courts HPOC

In June 1994, the Heights Property Owners Corporation Board met with Suffolk County Water Authority officials who were trying to convince the private community to allow it to take over the local water system. SCWA has since made entries to the rest of Shelter Island and also tried to spread its reach to the Browns Hills section of Orient where residents depend of well water. At the urging of residents in 1994, the HPOC Board agreed to delay a decision about whether to bring in the Suffolk County Water Authority until later in the season when the entire membership could weigh in on the decision.

POSTSCRIPT: The HPOC continues to maintain its own water system today, just as the rest of Shelter Island continues to reject bids to abandon its well-based system in favor of bringing in SCWA.

Call for permit prompts minor clash

The suggestion from Councilman Peter Reich and then Supervisor Art Williams that Shelter Island require a permit to build a dock met with objection from residents Joy Bausman and Emory Breiner, who thought the town was already over-regulated. The rule back in June 2004 only required a permit if the dock work was to exceed $10,000. But the result was projects springing up that appeared major, even though they came under the $10,000 limit.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, the town’s WMAC reviews applications for docks, bulkheads and moorings and passes on its judgment to the Town Board about whether or not the projects should be approved.

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