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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO It was 50 years ago that a deer, trying to jump over this car on Route 114, smashed the windshield and caused major damage to the vehicle, but the driver and passenger were uninjured.
It was 50 years ago that a deer, trying to jump over this car on Route 114, smashed the windshield and caused major damage to the vehicle, but the driver and passenger were uninjured.


Civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo was assassinated by members of the Ku Klux Klan in Selma, Alabama.
South Vietnamese troops, backed up by two teams of U.S. helicopter gunships launched the first major operation into Cambodia, expanding the Vietnam War.

Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were on the cover of TV Guide.

“Stop In the Name of Love” by The Supremes topped the Billboard charts in the United States while in the United Kingdom it was Tom Jones with “It’s Not Unusual” as the top song.

An apple tree seeded this week in 1965 would have rendered 3,674 bushels of apples at 60 pounds per bushel by now.

And on Shelter Island …

People 2, deer 0

Vehicle collisions with deer aren’t a new problem for Islanders. Fifty years ago a Shelter Island couple escaped injury when a deer attempted to jump over their car as they drove along Route 114 headed for South Ferry.

The auto was heavily damaged and the animal had to be destroyed, leaving the couple “apparently uninjured,” according to the story, but having to pick windshield glass from their hair.

POSTSCRIPT: The Deer & Tick Committee believes deer numbers have increased markedly in the 50 years since that accident and they have  increased efforts to get hunters to be more aggressive in culling the herd, both to avoid motor vehicle accidents and tick-borne diseases .

Spring perspectives: Man and Sea

It was at this time 30 years ago that biologist and environmentalist Herb Stelljes launched a series of columns in the Reporter titled “Along Our Shores” about the importance of protecting the water surrounding Shelter Island. His initial column dealt with the invasion of a species most threatening the water — man.

Encouraging walks along Island beaches, he encouraged people to notice that the waters were not quite as blue as they had been in the past and the skies not as clear.

“Do not let the long-lived majesty of all this natural grandeur cause you to forget how fragile it really is,” he warned then.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, Mr. Stelljes continues his campaign to protect the environment, but has a lot of company. Town Engineer John Cronin has been in the forefront dealing with aged septic systems that are polluting Island waters, launching a study of the number of such systems here as well as championing efforts at Sylvester Manor and the American Legion Post to construct updated septic systems.

Fire district schedules pension plan vote

In March 1995, the then Center Fire District was poised for a second vote to establish a pension plan for its volunteers. What’s called a “service award program” would be based on years of service and responses to emergency calls by individual firefighters. A similar effort to establish the pension fund was tried the previous year and voters turned it down by a 31 vote margin — 182 to 151.

It was estimated at the time that the cost of the program would be $40,750 per year for the first 10 years. The aim, according to then Fire Commission Chairman Phil Power, was to boost membership by offering such an incentive program.

But fast forward to April of 1995 and voters turned down the second request by a wider margin — 301 to 171.

Mr. Power blamed a Reporter editorial that tied the pension plan to an ongoing discussion about merging the Center and Heights Fire Districts, saying that the two were separate issues and should not have been linked.

It took awhile, but eventually, the firefighters got their pension plan.

POSTSCRIPT: Voters were in a better mood in 2012, when they approved a similar pension plan estimated to cost about $100,000 per year for ambulance service members by a lopsided vote of 180 to 13.

Williams urges affordable housing plan

Ten years ago, Supervisor Art Williams called on his Town Board colleagues to consider plans for more affordable housing on Shelter Island.

It had been several years since six affordables had been constructed on Bowditch Road and Mr. Williams suggested a plan to seek money from Suffolk County to purchase land that could then be used to build the houses.

He and other Town Board members were looking at a plan where those who acquired the houses could lease the land and gradually pay back the cost of that land along with their mortgages. Board members also wanted to tie the opportunities to acquire the houses to Island residents willing to volunteer time to the Fire Department and Ambulance Corps.

The aim was to try to provide more housing for young families who wouldn’t otherwise be able to remain in town due to escalating costs of housing. The plan was also to provide some rental units, especially for seniors.

POSTSCRIPT: Although the town has a Housing Authority that would oversee such an effort, additional affordable housing has not been built and as recently as two years ago, Councilwoman Chris Lewis said there hasn’t been any major call for affordables.

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