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Letters to the editor


Things held dear
To the Editor:
In my position, there is considerable risk in engaging the “Editorial Tar Baby,” but I feel the need to clarify what was, and was not said at the work session that was written about in last week’s scorching editorial (“Showing respect, August 28).

I never “winked” at anyone, nor was there a wink implied or hoped to be inferred by those watching. I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. There is “the public,” and then there is “The Public.” I serve the former, the people of Shelter Island, in my own humble way, as best I can, and by my own light, not the Reporter’s editorial staff.

As for the new open space map, the creation of which I fully support, and the zeal of its dissemination being the only concern I expressed, I can only say, yes, I am protective of the things I hold dear, like all of us who have made our lives here. If that makes me “small minded,” then so be it. It could be argued that I am not the only one so afflicted.
Councilman, Town of Shelter Island

A group effort
To the Editor:
In regard to last week’s editorial about a “Map of Walkable Open Space & Preserved Lands,” I’d like to clarify that the map is a product of the Town’s Green Options Advisory Committee, with committee members appointed by the Town Board. Aside from the map and the recent Green Expo, our committee’s ongoing projects include promoting protection of our aquifer and bays, alternate energy and fertilizer and pesticide reduction.
Chair, Green Options Advisory Committee

Open to all
To the Editor:
I’m certain a nature-lover like Paul Shepherd would not mean to exclude any member of the public (however defined) from enjoying the beauty of Shelter Island’s “open spaces.” With the new map, when available, the problem of inadequate signage and access would seem to be solved. It might help matters if an annual walking tour of the “open spaces and preserved lands” could be organized, such as our English cousins do for their public footpaths, to assert and maintain the public’s rights in this matter. Is this a job for Mr. Purtell and his associates, or indeed, for the Open Space Committee?
Shelter Island

Liberty and justice
To the Editor:
While trying to determine exactly who might have access to “open spaces,” as required by law, Town Councilman Paul Shepherd said “… there is the public, then there is the other public.” His fear is that the dirty “other public” will litter his hiking trails.

Who is the “other public?” Many of them will be veterans and their families who visit Shelter Island. They will be of other religions, other ethnic groups and races. They have all earned the right to walk on any public land that they choose to. Other public taxes have also paid for our open spaces. Stereotyping and separating the “public” from the “other public” seems to be un-American, if not illegal.

The “other public” has been encouraged to swim in Fresh Pond, deceptively told that it is “healthy and safe.” Much of the established and ordained “public” here understand that the pond is and has been polluted for many years. They know that eye and ear infections are common. They are savvy enough to know how harmful blue green algae blooms on Fresh Pond can be.

The “other public” is led to Fresh Pond like lambs to the slaughter. I have simply asked that a sign be posted informing the unwitting “other public” of possible health risk for their babies and themselves. The Town Board denied my request.

Why such contempt and disregard for a segment of the population? There has always been a prevailing attitude of “them and us” in the ether here.

As individuals, we can bar folks from our private property as we choose too. But when elected officials allow such attitudes to determine how law is applied, then the concept of “liberty and justice for all” is ignored and nullified. A concept that many have died for while protecting our constitutional rights.
In communist Cuba, citizens must first prove that they are loyal and trusted party members before they can get permits or gain access to other areas of the country. Seems similar to our Town Board’s style of governing.

Councilman Shepherd only verbalized the stink that emanates from Supervisor Dougherty’s administration. The fact that there was no dissent by the board is more disturbing. Mr. Shepherd might regret what he said. As a public official, he should regret that he even attempts to micromanage the citizenry. The “public” is not just friends, voters and tax payers. It’s everyone.
Shelter Island

Town must step up
To the Editor:
As a long-time resident of Tarkettle Road I have followed with concern the articles in the Reporter detailing the results of various studies on the Island’s fragile aquifer and wetlands. We have all been on notice regarding the need for careful water management and cautious development, most notably in the form of the extensive 2012 NYS Watershed Management Plan commissioned by the town — shelterislandtown.us/public_ftp/WaterbodyandWatershedInventoryReport.pdf — that singled out low-lying peninsular and coastal areas, with their shallow aquifers, as particularly vulnerable relative to other parts of the Island.

Therefore it was with great dismay that I recently learned that the Town Board is considering granting a variance to allow a residence of over 8,000 square feet, 10 bathrooms and multiple water needs to be built at 6 Charlie’s Lane, on a narrow lot at the heart of one of the shallowest of the Island’s aquifers.

Of further concern is that the project’s scale is distinctly out of sync with the character and feel of West Neck Bay and the surrounding communities of Menantic Creek, Silver Beach, Montclair and Tarkettle.
Given even just these set of facts I wonder on what basis could the board, considering its own Town Code Section 133-35, permit such a construction? To do so calls into question the integrity of the town’s zoning review process.

I urge the Board to carefully consider the interests of the community as it weighs this decision. As the money flows in, the lobbying pressure from hired experts making promises about water usage systems, adequate septic flows and minimal environmental impact will only increase — promises that are all but impossible to monitor and enforce once the projects are built. In the face of such challenges, town officials must be especially mindful of their duty to protect the Island’s resources as well as the character and feel of our unique neighborhoods.

No one is opposed to a house being built at 6 Charlie’s Lane. However, it should adhere to the established zoning regulations and not adversely impact the water rights of other residents nor the enjoyment of our properties. This is one of those times when it is important for the town to do what is right, not for individuals or interested parties, but for the community as a whole. This is a precedent-setting decision that will surely have repercussions on all Shelter Islanders and the future of the Island as we know it.
Shelter Island

Cold comfort
To the Editor:
The recent letter from two senior educators addressing possible misinterpretation of information contained in a recent article in the Reporter regarding reading scores was timely and revealing. These educators assured us that our students’ performance on the reading test was on par with the rest of the students in New York State.

This is hardly comforting when one considers par indicates a failure rate of 70 percent.

What is quite disconcerting is the fact that these leaders of our school system seemed quite satisfied with our students’ performance, inferring that other factors such as grit and determination could compensate for poor reading ability.

I would expect that the parents of our the third grade students — where the failure rate was a whopping 92 percent — would wish our school district, which spends $40,000 per student (way above par for the state) and has small classes (well below par for the state) would hire and elect educators that are somewhat less complacent with high rates of failure and have higher aspirations for our students.
Shelter Island

A solution
To the Editor:
I have been successful at putting a stop to annoying flyovers of airplanes, helicopters and Google drones over my home.

I wish to share my methods with my fellow Islanders. When I hear an approaching aviator, I strip down and go stand in my backyard, in plain view of the plane.

Since starting this practice, I have noticed a dramatic downturn in fly overs over my property.
Now, I am not encouraging the ladies of Shelter Island to follow my lead, that would just encourage pilots to increase their voyeurism. Instead, I am asking my beer-bellied brothers to come out in full force. The bigger the gut, the bigger the impact on the over-flown passengers.

Wave to the helicopters. They will find another flight pattern and our quiet skies will be restored.
Shelter Island