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Shelter Island Reporter Letters To the Editor


Taking responsibility
To the Editor:
I own a house in a community of half acre lots in which two houses have been built and rented out to at least four families at a time for as little as a night, a weekend or a week. There are often six cars in the driveway or on the street. My understanding is that the property owner has approached a third person to buy another lot between the other two.

What prevents every home on my street from becoming an airbnb? To me, the only solution is to require the homeowner to be living on the property when renting.

I asked the Building Department if this was legal and was told that two families could “live” in a home unless rented by the owner for a month, summer or year round. Unless I can report loud music/noise/rowdiness to the police after midnight, there is nothing anyone will do to enforce this provision.

The owner should be responsible for the guests in his or her home. Isn’t this what we expect of legal B&B’s, inns and hotels?

What about the limit of four rooms and the taxes paid? Let’s make these situations equal.

A registry would not solve the problem of investors building on every empty spot. What about excessive use of our aquifer with this larger population? Who is watching the unsupervised children biking in the street?

How does a neighborhood call itself a “neighborhood” when we don’t know our neighbors? What becomes of a community if we allow these commercial businesses to proliferate? The only answer that makes sense to me is to require the owner be in residence.

There should be a penalty for not obeying, a large fine or community service — some sort of accountability. Even if we don’t catch all illegal use, it would slow the misuse. Please attend to this very serious problem changing the entire nature of our Island community.
Shelter Island

Nothing to fear
To the Editor:
Councilwoman Lewis remarked that Airbnb is just another website. That is like saying that Shelter Island is just another island.
Airbnb incorporates peer-to-peer review.

It profiles both host and guest and requires them to review and evaluate each other. Anyone with bad reviews is booted off Airbnb. Airbnb is a proven safe and reliable way of renting homes, rooms and bed and breakfast accommodations. The host can list “house rules” so that the potential guest understands that there will be, for example, no smoking, no pets and no parties. We should welcome Airbnb here.

A friend of mine in Portland, Oregon has been renting a room in her home via Airbnb for two years now. She lives alone and is on a fixed income. Most rentals are to either a solo traveler or a couple for a few days to a week or two. The extra money helps her tremendously. Airbnb income could help make housing here affordable for a new family and help offset the cost for others.

A few folks here on Shelter Island seem to have an unfounded fear of Airbnb. Fear of anything new and not fully understood is part of our way of life here. Politicians, of course, often play up fear to get elected and re-elected. Airbnb doesn’t discriminate as to race, age, creed or sexual orientation. If that is the problem, then our Town Board must remember that they are bound by the Constitution of the United States; not the constitution of some home owners’ association.

I sometimes lend my home to friends when I travel for a weekend or a week. I do have a contact person here should there be a problem with the house.

So what is the real difference whether I rent or loan? It is about trust. I trust my friends and I would also trust the guest vetted by Airbnb.

As long as I do not make any unreasonable noise, create a disturbance or engage in any illegal activity, then neither my neighbors nor our town government should attempt to control who is in my home, for how long and for what reason. This is about privacy and property rights.

Water usage and noise are covered by code and shouldn’t be used as an excuse for another unnecessary intrusive law. As FDR once said, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”.
Shelter Island

Common sense
To the Editor:
It is sad to see so much turmoil over guns. It is reminiscent of the common sense law against crying “fire” in a crowded theater.

So many were so upset over the freedom of speech being lost. It has not been lost.

First, label the assault guns for what they are — intended solely to kill humans. This has nothing to do with shotguns, rifles or pistols. The common sense demand is just about guns designed to kill humans, not hunting or target practice. Just as with the freedom of speech, the freedom to use shotguns, rifles and pistols will not be lost.

This is about the right to kill as many humans as you can being brought under control.
Shelter Island

Urgent request
To the Editor:
Due to the emergency blood shortage in the New York blood center, the town is hosting the first ever summer blood drive on Tuesday July 26 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the EMS Building, 12 Manwaring Road.

Blood donations typically decline in the summer when schools go on break and people take vacations, but concerns over the Zika virus and tougher screening rules have left the New York Blood Center with just a two- to three-day supply of some blood types.

In past years, no blood drives were held east of the Shinnecock Canal from Memorial Day until after November 1 due to babesiosis on the East End. New this summer is Long Island Blood Services testing every pint of blood donated for babesia.

The entire donation process takes less than an hour and a single donation can be used to save multiple lives. Donors with O-negative blood type, or “universal donors,” are especially encouraged to donate, as their blood can be used in emergencies. So if you are between the ages of 16 and 75 and weigh at least 110 pounds, in good health and have had no tattoos in the past 12 months, please consider donating blood during this time of extreme shortage.

Your vital gift is greatly appreciated. If you have any questions about the blood drive or would like to make an appointment to donate, please call Judy Meringer at (631) 749-0291. If you have questions about your eligibility to donate, please call Long Island Blood Services at (800) 688-0900.

In conjunction with the town’s blood drive, the Island Gift of Life Foundation is proud to sponsor a bone marrow drive through “Be The Match.”  Supporting bone marrow drives is part of the mission of the Gift of Life that provides financial assistance to our local community members suffering from serious illnesses.

For patients diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and other life-threatening diseases, a bone marrow or cord blood transplant may be their only hope for a cure. A simple swab of the inside of the cheek allows you to become part of a national registry and a potential marrow donor. More information about how a marrow donation works can be found at bethematch.com or call Gina Kraus at 749-3358.
JUDY MERINGER, Confidential Secretary to the Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island

Bravo, Beau Payne
To the Editor:
Several years ago our daughter was visiting during the summer. She noticed something flying around in the hallway one evening after dark. I thought it was a moth. When I looked more closely I realized it was a small bat that had landed on the ceiling light fixture.

My daughter is taller than I am but not as adventuresome. She watched while I calmly took a large plastic colander from the pantry placed it over the light fixture where the bat was perched, secured the bat with a dish, took it out on the deck and released it.

I am resting much more comfortably now that I know Beau is on the case (“A busy Beau Payne has a full list of duties,” July 14).

Many, many years ago, the first year we lived on Shelter Island, a green garter snake gave birth to baby snakes in the breezeway of the house we were renting, so naturally I called the police and the officer came right over, grabbed the mama snake in one hand and the babies in the other, and drove off steering his patrol car very carefully to Fresh Pond where he released them. It was a sight to behold. I wish I had taken a photo.

Shelter Island is a special place where we can all enjoy simple delights.
Shelter Island

A generous spirit
To the Editor:
The American Legion Auxiliary is sincerely thankful for the generous donations received in response to our “Bakeless Bake Sale.”

This support allows us to reach out to all Shelter Island and many Long Island veterans and active service personnel throughout the year.

The community’s support and presence on Memorial Day (despite the rain) was overwhelming and gratefully appreciated.

Bracelets, poppies and flags are still available. Some may not have received their bracelet and anyone wanting those items, please call Pam Jackson at (631) 965-0860.

We thank you so very much,
Treasurer, American Legion Mitchell Post #281 and the American Legion Auxiliary

Life lessons
To the Editor:
If you are a sailor or parent of younger children, you may know about the Shelter Island Yacht Club Junior Sailing program. The program provides fundamental skills and confidence in and around your boat while teaching kids to be accomplished sailors ages six and up.

Jeff Bresnahan, the junior sailing director, hosts an orientation in June in which he points out the objective for the students is to look at the program “not just as a race, but as an overall experience.” Those words rang true during the July 8 regatta at Old Cove.

After rigging and getting ready, I watched as the children sailed off quickly. A friend noticed that sail #1410 was straying from the pack. My disappointment rose and heart sank a bit when I realized that was my daughter’s boat. What was she doing out there?

How could she goof off during the race? Wasn’t she using her five plus year’s skills and focusing on the end goal?

After the results were posted and the awards were handed out, on our way home my daughter turned to me and said, “Mommy, do you think the Yacht Club recognizes acts of kindness at regattas?” I said I wasn’t sure, but wanted to know why. She responded “my friend Sophie got injured during our third race and she was crying. She couldn’t move. I decided it was better to sail to her and make sure she was O.K. before I continued in the race.”

At that moment, my disciplinary speech flew out the car window. I told my daughter she did the right thing, and that good sportsmanship starts with supporting your teammates. It was a moment as a parent you never forget: my children are learning valuable life lessons during our summers on Shelter Island.

I don’t expect my children to get sailing scholarships or become the next Amanda Clark. I also don’t expect them to attend regattas with a fierce competitive streak. What I do expect them to take away is a sense of confidence, independence, camaraderie, compassion, enthusiasm and above all, learn from the experience.

During the Old Cove Regatta, both of us learned more than we ever thought we could. The regatta provided us with a memory that will not only encourage my kids to continue to sail, but demonstrated to us as a family how to be better people overall.
Shelter Island