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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO A new buoy in West Neck Harbor was installed by Suffolk County scientists to track the environmental health of the Peconic Estuary.
A new buoy in West Neck Harbor was installed by Suffolk County scientists to track the environmental health of the Peconic Estuary.

Library dedicated in formal ceremony

At a ceremony marking the dedication of what was then the new Shelter Island Library, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Director Walter Curley praised the staff for keeping pace with the best of libraries in the county and leading many others with its collection and programs.Similar praise came from Supervisor Evans Griffing and others who also had kind words for those who had raised the funds necessary to building the new structure.

POSTSCRIPT: Shelter Island’s libray, like many small libraries on the East End, may look too small to handle the amount of material residents would like. But thanks to excellent leadership, an astute staff, dedicated volunteers and the Cooperative Library System, it continues to provide access to a large volume of books, magazines and media. It also provides many community programs that appeal to everyone from very young children to the oldest adults.

Baymen blast waterways law

Baymen’s Association members took issue 30 years ago with a newly enacted Waterways Ordinance limiting where nonresident boaters could anchor. They argued at the time that the town was using shellfish protection as a scapegoat for the measure and said that boat fecal discharge would encourage pollution, not minimize it.

A study by the Northeast Technical Services Unit, found that boats generally weren’t major contributors to pollution when dispersed. But by concentrating boats in an area, pollution was increased.

Supervisor Evans Griffing said that the ordinance hadn’t provided any protection for shellfish and said there was “no reason to put an unwelcome sign on Shelter Island.”

POSTSCRIPT: While the Island still has restrictions on the amount of time nonresident boats can anchor in its waters, the practice of discharging wastes into the water has been replaced by use of pumpout boats.

Supervisor declares water emergency

Hoot Sherman was town supervisor 20 years ago when drought conditions forced him to declare an emergency that called for no washing of vehicles, sprinkling of lawns or golf fairways. Vegetable and flower gardens were allowed to be watered by hand. Brackish water was appearing in ponds throughout the Island.

The Heights Property Owners Corporation had previously imposed restrictions on water use for those connected to its water distribution system.

POSTSCRIPT: Whatever water use limits exist by town resolution, the Town Board always has the option to impose tighter restrictions in drought conditions.

New buoy placed by county to test West Neck water

Islanders found a new buoy in West Neck Harbor 10 years ago and learned it was placed there by Suffolk County scientists in an effort to test the environmental conditions of water in the Peconic Estuary. The buoy was equipped with a microcomputer, solar power and a cellular antennae.

Robert Waters, supervisor of the Suffolk County Bureau of Marine Resources for the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, said the buoy would test water samples at the surface and at some depth every 15 minutes with data on salinity, temperature and dissolved oxygen being fed back to a Yaphank computer.

What prompted the testing was algal blooms in Peconic Bay that endangered fish.

POSTSCRIPT: The Town Board is currently considering a much more sophisticated method of testing Shelter Island water quality after hearing a presentation this week from officials representing the United States Geological Survey. It’s expected the town and the USGS within a few weeks could negotiate a contract for such testing.

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