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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Groundbreaking for the World Trade Center in New York City took place with jackhammers breaking pavement at  the former site, known as  Radio Row, named for the proliferation of businesses that, in its heyday, sold and repaired radios.

Caesars Palace in Las Vegas opened and was hailed as setting a new standard in luxury in the casino resort industry.

A radio broadcast by China’s Prime Minister Zhou Enlai called on the people of that country to support “the Cultural Revolution.”

Comedian Lenny Bruce, known for his iconoclastic routines that resulted in several arrests , died in Los Angeles of a morphine overdose at the age of 40.

And on Shelter Island …

Co-mingling at dump outlawed

The Town Board 50 years ago banned the practice of combining garbage with metal, insisting they would have to be separated for disposal.

At the same time, the board banned fires in the disposal area except for those handled by the custodian. That ruling was in conjunction with a state edict that garbage and refuse could no longer be burned, but had to be buried.

There were concerns at the time that new hours at the facility would result in garbage and refuse being tossed over the fence, but Supervisor Evans Griffing warned that anyone doing so would be fined up to $50.

POSTSCRIPT: Yesterday’s dump is today’s Recycling Center that separates wet garbage from other refuse and  becomes a source of revenue for the town as various types of refuse is sold.

New supe finds school budget in red

It was in the summer of 1986 that new School Superintendent Marlene Berman reported to the Board of Education that it would be starting the 1986-87 school year almost $117,000 in the red.

Problems resulted from grossly increased costs for contingencies and unallocated items when the budget was approved the previous spring. The largest part of the increases were transportation costs from BOCES for occupational education courses and schooling for handicapped students. These costs amounted to $75,000 more than had been anticipated.

Another $41,640 was for unallocated costs — expenses that were erroneously eliminated from the budget presented to voters.

The added transportation costs were plaguing many East End districts, according to Superintendent Berman, who said a lack of competition among providers further exacerbated the problem. But almost $11,000 was for local transportation costs that had been underestimated.

At the same time, Dr. Berman said about 90 percent of the excess transportation costs would be returned to the district through state aid, but it would likely be two years before that money was back in the district’s coffers.

As for the other costs, much of it came from the board’s 5 percent estimate of how much it would cost to increase teacher salaries to bring them in line with other districts. But that figure was underestimated by 2.5 percent, Dr. Berman said.

POSTSCRIPT: Boards of Education, of late, have managed to stay within their projected spending plans, in fact, spending less than originally estimated..

GBCC marks 100 years of golf on Shelter Island

The year was 1996 when Gardiner’s Bay Country Club celebrated its 100th anniversary of golf on Shelter Island. The Shelter Island Golf Club was incorporated in 1896 when golf was still a fledgling sport, but 100 years later, members were celebrating that the sport had remained relatively free of scandal and corporate influence — at least on the local level.

Two men — H.D.W. Lawson, manager of the Manhanset House, and Thomas H. Wood, president of the Manhanset Improvement Company — were credited with pushing for the local club, recognizing that golf had a wide appeal among the well-heeled and would help maintain the tourist trade on the Island.

POSTSCRIPT: At 120 years since incorporation, GBCC continues to thrive. Long -time golf pro Bob DeStefano, while still an avid golfer, has given up the golf pro mantle to Leigh Notley, but pens a weekly sports column for the Reporter.

Does killing deer get rid of ticks?

The question was posed 10 years ago as Supervisor Alfred Kilb Jr. and Police Chief Jim Read were advocating culling the herd to reduce the incidence of tick-borne diseases. They cited scientific studies to back up their views, but the question remained how low would the number of deer on the Island have to be to significantly  impact health problems.

An entomologist from the Centers for Disease Control said eradicating the herd would certainly be effective, but no studies existed on deer reduction versus eradication.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s generally agreed today that if the herd could be culled to a level of eight to 10 deer per square mile, that would be effective, but there is only anecdotal evidence of the deer population here.

Nonetheless, the Deer & Tick Committee has taken steps to increase culling of the herd while continuing to deploy and service 4-poster units.