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This week in Shelter Island history

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO A wary wild turkey making its way around the Island this week.
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO A wary wild turkey making its way around the Island this week.


Tens of thousands of Vietnam War protesters picketed the White House and then marched to the Washington Monument.President Lyndon Johnson was told by his Pentagon advisers that if major operations aimed at neutralizing the Viet Cong were to succeed, he would have to increase American troop levels from 120,000 to 400,000.

France launched a rocket bearing its first satellite, Asterix-1, and became the third country to enter exploration of outer space.

Dodger second baseman Jim Lefebvre was named National League Rookie of the Year.

Actor Ben Stiller was born to comedians and actors Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller in New York City.

And on Shelter Island …

County dredge tackling three Shelter Island projects

The Suffolk County-owned dredge moved into West Neck Harbor 50 years ago this week to tackle three projects. The first was to deepen the channel at the tip of Shell Beach. The 275-foot channel there was to be widened to 425 feet.

Congdon Creek was to be excavated from the town dock out about 2,000 feet into the harbor so pleasure craft could navigate the waters safely.

POSTSCRIPT: A major dredge project has just been completed by the county at South Ferry where there was concern at low tides of ferries dragging the bottom.

Councilman Peter Reich told the Town Board last week that he expects the county to get out of the dredging business altogether, noting that some municipalities are charged for overtime on projects.

He sees that as a step in the direction of more dredging costs being passed to municipalities.

State says Island waterways law unenforceable

After much wrangling on Shelter Island, a new town ordinance was passed 30 years ago requiring nonresident boaters to anchor in designated areas in Coecles and West Neck harbors if their stay was to exceed three hours.

Nonresident boaters were allowed to anchor in the designated areas for up to 48 hours within a 72-hour period. Those who were convicted of violating the new ordinance were subject to a $250 fine or up to 15 days in jail or both and their boats could be towed.

But the director of the Marine and Recreational Vehicles Bureau Nelson Porter said that while the town has the right to institute ordinances that protect local conditions such as speeding and safety laws, this ordinance went beyond that right. The state would have to pre-approve proposed ordinances dealing with navigation and moorings, Mr. Porter said.

POSTSCRIPT: The ordinance on the books today provides that between May 15 and September 15 nonresidents can’t anchor boats in inland waters except in transient anchoring areas of Coecles and West Neck harbors for more than 48 hours in any 72-hour period and from September 15 to May 15, no nonresidents are allowed to anchor for more than three consecutive days.

Merger issue surfaces in commissioner race

With a proposal on the table in November 1995 for another study of whether the Heights and Center fire districts should merge,  Center Commissioner James “Zippy” Reeves said he voted against the study along with three other commissioners at the time.

While Mr. Reeves said he favored a merger, he considered the study a waste of time in view of strong opposition.

While Mr. Reeves wasn’t a candidate in 1995, the issue of a merger study was front and center in the upcoming commissioners’ races that year. In the Center, Ignatius Avona was running against Andy Steinmuller. Mr. Avona opposed a merger study while Mr. Steinmuller favored the study. Mr. Steinmuller won the election in a squeaker, 146 to 143 votes for Mr. Avona.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, there is one fire district combining both the Center and the Heights and current Commission Chairman Andy Reeve is seeking re-election to his seat in a vote scheduled for December 8. He is running unopposed.

Turkeys come back — but not here

Turkeys that Ben Franklin once wanted to make the national bird for their abundance as a food source, were scarce on Shelter Island in November 2005.

But they were beginning to make a comeback on the South Fork. In hidden fields and woods in Sag Harbor, Southampton and Amagansett, they were spotted by hikers.

On Shelter Island, the only turkeys locals were expected to see would be on their dinner tables at Thanksgiving.

POSTSCRIPT: Wild turkeys have returned to Shelter Island in considerable numbers today and can frequently be found strutting their stuff on roadways and even in the Reporter’s parking lot. It’s not unusual at this time of year to observe drivers stopping to let a rafter of turkeys to cross roads.