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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


In a case that drew national headlines, Dr. Sam Sheppard was acquitted for the second time of murdering his pregnant wife back in 1954.

Jack Warner sold Warner Bros. to Seven Arts Productions and the company eventually became Warner Bros.-Seven Arts.

Gemini 12 with astronauts James Lovell and Buzz Aldrin splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean 370 miles east of the Bahamas.

The United Nations General Assembly vote to create the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

And on Shelter Island …

Board besieged by rowdyism complaints

Just weeks after Halloween in 1966, the Town Board heard a host of complaints from residents about rowdyism in their neighborhoods.

Police, they said, did nothing to stop the incidences of houses and cars being broken into.

One resident said his door was shoved open and shaving cream shot inside while another resident said his car was forced open and filled with rocks and dirt and his gas tank filled with grass. Another said he was up until 3 a.m. to protect his property.

Evans Griffing was supervisor at the time and said he rode around on Halloween night and thought the town was quiet, but promised residents he would get to the bottom of the problem and find out who was responsible.

POSTSCRIPT: These days, Halloween is another of the Island’s special small town traditions in which children and adults dress in costume for an annual parade around the Center, then are treated to refreshments at the firehouse.

Zoning Committee undertakes code revisions

Recognizing that codes adopted in one era may need change in another, a special committee was appointed by the Town Board to streamline the town’s zoning code.

The aim was to first deal with issues that routinely find their way to the Zoning Board of Appeals to see if changes could be made to streamline the process.

Plans called for more sweeping changes to eventually be made such as creation of ferry zones, upzoning and dealing with accessory apartments.

POSTSCRIPT: This year, the current ZBA is focused on trying to facilitate a smoother process of deciding when an applicant needs a special permit, required if the proposal results in changes to more than 50 percent of a structure.

Applicants trying to avoid that step that would require them to bring their property up to code have been engaging in arguments with Building Department personnel.

ZBA Chairman Doug Matz has suggested that the applicants come directly to the ZBA for an informal discussion with no fee attached to determine whether or not a project appears to need a special permit.

Town to hold helicopter hearing

Twenty years ago at this time the town was slated to hold a hearing on a six month moratorium on helicopters landing on the Island. The moratorium wouldn’t affect emergency airlifts of medical patients or helicopters landing for official government business.

But it would limit private and commercial helicopters from landing anywhere but Klenawicus or Westmoreland airstrips, and then, only with the permission of the owners of those properties.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, the town bans private and commercial helicopter landings, but all attention has been focused in recent years on such flights into East Hampton that fly over Shelter Island and parts of the North Fork.

Despite intervention by area congressional representatives, a recent court decision appears to keep those flights allowable for at least a few years with Federal Aviation Administration approval.

Ketcham service predicts reductions

It was a controversial budget year and when the dust settled and Highway Superintendent Mark Ketcham saw the cuts that had been made to his budget, he let it be known that he would have to cutback on services because he would lack the tools, equipment and manpower to do the job assigned to him.

Morale among his workers was low, he said.

POSTSCRIPT: Current Highway Superintendent and Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. has made a steady plea for more money to bring town assets up to snuff and to be able to put them on a regular maintenance schedule. He has increased revenues for his department, but still has to delay work he maintains will ultimately cost the town more as roads, vehicles, equipment and buildings deteriorate.