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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO The old Shelter Island Library back in 1964 before it was replaced by today’s building that has since undergone its own expansion.
The old Shelter Island Library back in 1964 before it was replaced by today’s building that has since undergone its own expansion.


A pair of heavy-duty pruning shears cut through wild shrubbery around the old Shelter Island Library revealed, 50 years ago, a building that was “a tumbling down shack with an expanded front, complete with decrepit stoop,” according to a Reporter editorial of the day.

The neglect of the library was blamed on the pace of modern living and an apathy toward book learning, despite the fact that hadn’t happened in other communities. The paper predicted a rebirth as contributions began rolling in for a new building to be constructed at the present site at Route 114 and Bateman Road.

The editorial cautioned that if the library was to be revived in a new building, it would take a lot of support to make it a reality.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s Shelter Island Library, thanks to director Denise DiPaolo and her competent, enthusiastic staff, is not only a center for books and other media, but a center for many community activities.

School repair plan discussed

It was in July 1984 that the Board of Education heard a plan from architect Gordon Wise for renovations. He was proposing an expanded library, a combined auditorium and cafeteria, inspection and possible work on heating and plumbing systems and replacement of all door locks. Plans also called for lockers throughout the building and some reassignment of space.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, the Board of Education is embarking on another major overhaul that includes fixing its faulty heating and air conditioning system along with upgrades to the boiler room and steam radiator replacements with unit ventilators; new zone pumps and piping and two hydronic boilers and accessories; mechanical upgrades to three rooms that have no heating and ventilation systems; installation of a 2-ton cooling split system for the computer room; and replacement of a fuel oil tank with an alarm system and piping; and repointing of masonry.

Town takes over West Neck Water

After being courted by the Suffolk County Water Authority, Bill Payne relinquished his West Neck Water District to the town. The transition was not without controversy as Mr. Payne had threatened to abandon the water system and he was also facing fines of up to $30,000 for failing to have a state Department of Environmental Conservation permit to operate the district.

At the same time the Heights Property Owners Corporation was jumping on the opportunity to get a permit for operation of its private water system.

POSTSCRIPT: The town continues to manage the West Neck Water District in addition to its original system while HPOC and Dering Harbor both operate their own water districts.

Ready, aim . . . run

The Town Board was debating a location for its new highway barn back in July 2004 and armed with a clear cut engineer’s report that called for locating the new barn at the landfill site on Bowditch, instead “folded” in the face of highway workers objections.

The workers, led by Rob Gorcoff, said they feared a methane problem at the landfill site and wanted the new barn to be built on Route 114. The Reporter, at the time, favored the Bowditch site and chastised the Town Board for “wasting a block of time” in pushing forward with the project and increasing the risk of failure of the project.

POSTSCRIPT: The barn and office rest at the Bowditch site. The place once touted as appropriate is now being looked at by PSEG for an electric substation on Shelter Island.

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