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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO One of the original six affordable houses the town had built on Bowditch Road, but despite an effort to build more in 2004, the six remain the only town-sponsored affordables with little call for more.
One of the original affordable houses the town had built on Bowditch Road. But despite an effort to build more in 2004, the six remain the only town-sponsored affordables with little call for more.


In a controversial move, Pope Paul VI announced he would sell the tiara he wore when  declared Pope with the money to be distributed to the poor. But Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York intervened and bought the tiara for the Catholic Church of the United States.Bob Pettit, who played 11 years for the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks, was the first National Basketball League player to top 20,000 points in a professional career.

Actress Calista Flockhart, best known for her portrayal of the flaky Ally McBeal in the David E. Kelley television series, was born.

Author Ian Fleming, who gave us Agent 007, James Bond, died of a heart attack at the age of 56.

West Berliners attacked a Soviet Army car and smashed a heavy truck and trailer that were halfway through the western police barriers protecting the communist wall that had at that time stood for three years.

And on Shelter Island …

Resigns Planning Board over ‘interest conflict’

William Payne resigned from the Shelter Island Planning Board in November 1964 after citing his frustration with a lack of support from the Town Board.

While the planners are appointed, the Town Board must stand for election and Mr. Payne said that has resulted in decisions being made based on public response, not even consulting with the Planning Board about a number of issues.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s Planning Board members cite no such frustrations, but Shelter Island planners do function differently than their colleagues in other municipalities. Here, the Planning Board concentrates primarily on property subdivisions and lot line changes.

In other municipalities, planners review applications requiring full site plans to assure consistency with existing codes and concerns about impacts on neighboring properties. When an application gets to those planners and is  inconsistent with their codes, they refer it to the Zoning Board of Review to decide whether a variance is in order and planners only move forward after a variance has been granted or a plan changed so it doesn’t need a variance.

School bond to get another go-around

After voters rejected a $1.9 million school building bond in 1984 by a close margin of 398 to 393, the Board of Education opted in November not to monkey with the plans or try to scale back the numbers. Instead, they opted to schedule a new vote in January 1985 on the same bond question.

The Board took a lot of criticism for failing to scale back the plan and when the January 24, 1985, referendum rolled around, voters gave the bond another drubbing — this time rejecting the bond  by a vote of 525 to 503 — and sending the Board back to the drawing board.

POSTSCRIPT: This year’s Board of Education put a bond issue before voters for a new heating and ventilation system not to exceed $1.63 million and the community solidly embraced the spending by a vote of 159 to 21.

Island voters back water district

In a November 1994 referendum, voters gave a 2-to-1 nod to creating the West Neck Water District that is operated by a board of directors who operate it with the town’s backing,  which is necessary to secure bonds for repairs so no town money would be needed to support operations.

The referendum created the separate water district, keeping the Suffolk County Water Authority at bay. The vote tally was 764 to 350.

POSTSCRIPT: To this day, the water district, once a privately held operation, has continued to supply water needs of customers in that area of the Island.

Panel plans six affordables on Bowditch

After months of debate and planning, the town was preparing to secure a 4.4-acre plot on Bowditch Road where additional affordable houses could be built. Private lenders were prepared to put up the money to buy the site that belonged to Ryan Farm/Open Space LLC. Then supervisor Gerry Siller declared the purchase price would be about $50,000 per acre.

POSTSCRIPT: The original affordables built in the mid 1990s are still largely occupied by the people who bought them at the time, but additional affordables haven’t been constructed and there has been little call for them in  recent years.

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