Reporter editorial: Effective citizenship

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO Dan Fokine, left, and Tim Purtell of the Green Options Advisory Committee, presenting a new map of preserved land to the Town Board Tuesday.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO Dan Fokine, left, and Tim Purtell of the Green Options Advisory Committee, presenting a new map of preserved land to the Town Board Tuesday.

Showing up almost everywhere, alongside the ubiquitous map of the Island, will soon be a handsome new addition.

Due to the coordination among Island businesses and town government and led by two dedicated citizens, “A Map of Walkable Open Space and Preserved Lands” will now be available to residents and visitors.

In August, Tim Purtell and Dan Fokine presented the idea of producing a map that would guide residents and visitors through many of the natural wonders on the Island, marking out 16 walks and what to look for once you head into the preserved spaces.

Mr. Purtell, Mr. Fokine and their colleagues on the town’s Green Options Advisory Committee worked to complete the map and a first run printing of 2,500 copies. The Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce footed the bill for the printing and will promote and display the maps at Island businesses, including here at the Reporter.

We salute the players on this team who pulled together to produce a win for Shelter Island.

And our thanks also goes out this week to Town Engineer John Cronin, who has persistently voiced concerns about the quality of water Islanders drink.

In April, Mr. Cronin went before the Town Board to say that “this is not a situation that’s going to get better, it’s going to get worse without some radical changes.”

The problem is dangerous pollutants, especially nitrogen compounds. The engineer has since informed the board and the public that the typical system here removes only about 15 percent of nitrogen, while the federal Environmental Protection Agency requires that drinking water standards have nitrate levels of 10 milligrams or less per liter.

Many parts of the Island, Mr. Cronin noted, have nitrogen in drinking water much higher than that value.

What is to be done? Mr. Cronin said this week that the problem has to be identified using hard numbers and called for well testing on the Island to create a database.

Water Advisory Committee Chairman John Hallman agrees. Mr. Hallman knows water, and was a strong voice on the Irrigation Committee to push members into considering that the quality of Island water is as important as quantity.

The problem, as in almost all instances when a community is faced with a challenge, comes down to money. Testing is expensive, and elected officials rightly keep a close watch over the pennies. But when it comes to the health of residents, plus the health of our surrounding waters, being penny wise may someday make us look much worse than merely foolish.

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