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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO A view of the American Legion Hall dressed to the nines for the holiday season in December 1964.
A view of the American Legion Hall dressed to the nines for the holiday season in December 1964.


United States population was nearing 200 million.Filming of “Dr. Zhivago” got under way.

“Funny Girl” starring Barbra Streisand was playing to mixed reviews on Broadway.

Disney declared “Mary Poppins its best film of 1964.

Billboard named the Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as its top song for the year.

And on Shelter Island

Yes, Virginia

Fifty years ago, the Reporter reprinted the classic New York Sun editorial of 1897 that confirmed to 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon that there is, indeed a Santa Claus.  The editorial assured the little girl that “as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist,” that the world would be a dreary place if there were no Santa Claus.

POSTSCRIPT: We reaffirm that sentiment as 2014 gives way to the New Year when now, more than ever, we need to focus on hopes for peace and love to dominate over hatred and violence.

North Ferry union to vote on three-year contract

At this time in 1984, North Ferry workers were poised to vote on a proposed new contract. Both company and union negotiators had reached a settlement that, among other things, called for six-hour shifts during peak hours in the summer if a third or fourth ferry was needed.

Previously, extra ferries couldn’t be scheduled unless an 8 1/2 hour shift was established. The vote to accept the contract was 10-2 with one abstention.

POSTSCRIPT: North Ferry’s union is in contract talks now. Details aren’t public since the ferry service is privately owned by the Heights Property Owners Corporation.

What’s in a name?

Turns out, everything. When the Stony Brook School of Medicine named a strain of the deadly hantavirus “Shelter Island,” Supervisor Hoot Sherman rose up in protest. So did other officials. The effect of the community economically from the name would be devastating, he said, pointing to the Island’s dependence on tourists to support its businesses.

It all developed after one person, a part-timer, became ill and speculation started that mice on the Island might be the source of his illness. It brought news vans from around the state to Shelter Island and created an unwanted focus on a problem that never blew up here.

POSTSCRIPT: As Mr. Sherman pointed out back then, the Island was already fighting Lyme and other tick-borne diseases and that had already adversely affected the tourism industry. The effort to curb problems with such diseases today continues.

Messer pushes to lift broker sign ban

The town’s prohibition on brokers posting “For Sale” signs on properties back in 2004 was challenged by Councilman James Messer, who argued the ban was unconstitutional. He said that the code allowing only homeowners to post a single sign was too restrictive and needed to be adjusted.

It began a discussion that led to allowing a single broker to place a sign on property and if that property is an open listing, brokers would have to rotate signs so that only one sign appeared on any given property.

POSTSCRIPT: The code affecting signs is back in the news this year with brokers arguing they should be allowed to post open house signs along the roadway directing those who want to visit properties to know where they’re located.

Broker Janalynn Travis-Messer was fined for such a sign this year and is seeking a change, arguing that the sign would only be posted for a couple of hours to direct people and should be treated as any event sign would be. Stay tuned as Ms. Travis-Messer pushes forward with her attempt to change the code.

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