Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


To the Editor:
The Reporter’s coverage of the short-term rental situation is so one-sided it shows how unfamiliar people are with the process of renting through Airbnb and the benefits of the sharing economy.

First of all, “Airbnb” is a brand name, the use of which to describe this method of renting is like calling all the islands off our Northeast coast “shelter islands.” A more accurate description is the term “peer-to-peer” rentals used by Wikipedia.

Airbnb’s service is built on trust between the buyer and seller, just like eBay. If someone doesn’t follow the rules, they get bad reviews and can’t effectively participate on the site. And, yes, the Airbnb hosts get to post rules for use of the premises which are displayed in the listing. Guests and hosts who don’t follow the rules or provide poor service get bad reviews, hence fewer options, and so the people police themselves. Hosts can limit the number of renters, number of cars parked, prohibit parties and set quiet hours, to mention a few rules.

Our town could be better served if neighbors contacted the police to enforce laws already on the books prohibiting public intoxication, public urination, illegal possession of fireworks and unsafe driving. Our town doesn’t even have a noise ordinance for goodness sake! The roar of leaf blowers starting at 6:45 a.m. obliterates many a peaceful morning in my household.

I found the Paw Print cartoon equally ridiculous, again slandering a company that has grown worldwide because of the excellent service it provides its customers.

Peer-to-peer rentals foster an inclusive community, encouraging people from all parts of the world and levels of income to participate. I have benefitted enormously from hosting people young and old, from here and various countries, most of whom currently live in Manhattan and arrive via public transportation, often with nothing but a backpack and a desire to explore our beautiful island.
Shelter Island

A courageous stand
To the Editor:
I want to applaud Reverend Fearing and the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church for their courageous stand on the issue of assault rifles in our country.

I believe that they have properly recognized the need for all of our institutions including our churches and synagogues to respond to the epidemic of gun violence that we witness on almost a daily basis. It is truly a public health crisis and should be dealt with as such.

Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control, the federal agency charged with investigating and responding to every other public health crisis, is not allowed to investigate gun deaths in the same way because of the inordinate power of the National Rifle Association.

I also take exception to a recent letter to the editor (“Your Letters,”June 30) that calls on our houses of worship to be places of passive solace. It is a lot to ask that a Divine Presence take full responsibility for providing us with solace when bad things happen without asking us to take responsibility to take action to prevent the preventable.

I believe that the Divine Presence implants within each of us a divine spark that we can call on in difficult times. It is this divine spark that should challenge us to right wrongs and make the world a better place for ourselves and others. If we receive solace passively without recognizing this challenge, we will never reach our highest selves.
Shelter Island

Risky, but essential
To the Editor:
I applaud Reverend Stephen Fearing and the Session of the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church (“Presbyterian pastor speaks out on guns,” “Prose & Comments,” June 30) for the strong position they have taken regarding the ban on assault weapons.

While I thoroughly concur with and will gladly support their efforts in any way I can, I also applaud Hap Bowditch for his thoughtful and heartfelt letter to the editor (“Your letters,” June 30) expressing his disapproval of Reverend Fearing for “[imposing] his personal position in sermons and in the form of a letter signed ‘The Shelter Island Presbyterian Church’…” — a position that is, according to Mr. Bowditch, “far from unanimous.”

This seems to me a worthy, not to mention timely, subject for debate. There are many such issues facing our society today — issues that require us to figure out just how humans can best negotiate their way through the increasingly complex and treacherous terrain of this still-new millennium; issues that are being thrown into high relief during this hair-raising presidential campaign.

Analysis and debate of these thorny topics cannot be left solely to the politicians and pundits anymore.

Not only do they do a pretty poor job of it, the truth is we can no longer afford to cede to the often-partisan media the arduous, messy, but absolutely crucial business of engaging in informed, interactive discourse with one another. The conversation on issues that really matter to us must be joined by average citizens of good faith like Reverend Fearing and Mr. Bowditch, like you, like me, who, in spite of our differences, are all sincerely concerned with serving the common good.

In our churches, in our schools, in our communities, we have to lift our heads from our cell phones, tear our eyes away from the tube, look at one another, listen to one another and talk to one another.

This communal airing of what’s really important to us is risky, I realize, and of course we’ve had little to no practice. If there’s one aspect of social convention upon which all of us have seemed to agree for the past several centuries, it is that when we gather together in groups we never discuss religion or politics (or even name that third taboo, prejudice). But my two-pronged question is this: How’s that been working for us, and is there another, better way?
Shelter Island

A second look
To the Editor:
After some hard-hitting comments on the condition of the Shelter Island Country Club’s (SICC) greens, some of which were justified relative to the condition of the greens, it’s time to take a second look.

For those not familiar with golf, the putting greens were victimized by a pernicious blight. What should have been as smooth as a baby’s cheek was actually pitted and pocked and caused the golf ball to leave its intended course and go off-line. It’s hard enough to sink a putt, let alone compete with nature.

We all wondered what this spring would bring, causing some longtime members not to renew their memberships. Fortunately, through the efforts of the SICC board and groundskeeper as well as many dedicated volunteers, a miracle has transpired both to the greens and the golf course in general. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the research and advice from the Cornell Agricultural group as well as advice sought from a number of professional groundskeepers.

Shelter Island Country Club has a very ritzy sounding name and you would expect a suitable amount of money to accompany that name. In reality, it is Shelter Island’s peoples’ course geared to the working person’s needs, given to them by the town for their use and accompanied by very inexpensive playing fees.

If the term “miraculous” were applied to the course this summer, it is all the more appropriate in light of the very tight budget the board has to work with. It has been both an act of dedication and perseverance by the board, its staff and volunteers, in spite of many obstacles, to make the transformation come to pass.

Not only has the course bounced back, the clubhouse kitchen is also a hidden treasure: inexpensive prices for both drinks and delicious meals.
Shelter Island