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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


In the best interest
To the Editor:
A recent editorial in the Reporter pointed out two areas of town governance and budget that needed serious consideration. We are writing to support the points expressed in the editorial and urge the Town Board to act expeditiously on these proposals.

First, we should increase Jay Card’s salary, over time, to make him competitive with those in a similar position in other East End towns. He is currently seriously underpaid and he is also doing an outstanding job with the Highway Department, the Recycling Center and with all of the town properties that fall under his domain in the Department of Public Works.

He also makes less money, annually, than some of his employees and is not eligible for overtime compensation. We propose and recommend that the board raise his salary $10,000 each year for the next two or three years until his salary is made competitive with that of other towns.

Second, we have fallen behind in the last few years in taking care of our roads. That is because of the foolish system we have been using to expend money for roads. What most often happens is that Shelter Island gets grants earmarked specifically for roads — currently $575,000 thanks to Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) — but we have to expend money to get those grants, which are guaranteed, back into the Highway Department’s budget.

It has been suggested for over a year that the town borrow the money, short term at current low interest rates, and be able to take care of $575,000 in road repairs immediately, and then apply within six months to have that expenditure reimbursed. Or, use money in the very large town fund balance for a period of six months to allow the $575,000 to be expended on roads, and then apply right away to have the money reimbursed to the fund balance as it is expended.

Either of these strategies would allow the town under Jay Card’s leadership to fix the roads in need of repair before they get worse and much more expensive to repair.

We elect our supervisor and the Town Board to govern. We implore them to vote and act on these two proposals as soon as possible in the best interest of the people of Shelter Island.
Shelter Island

Temper tantrums
To the Editor:
I have a solution for the Town Board’s road rage and short-term temper tantrums (“Board meeting turns ugly,” November 17).

Fix only the roads that lead to hotels and let the roads to the airbnbs become impassable. (Just kidding).

The idea that a property owner who rents out their only house on Shelter Island is somehow a commercial enterprise is nonsensical. This is not their livelihood.

The board is treating these homeowners as if they are a cartel. It is an individual’s right to legally use their property as they choose to. The ability to rent is a selling point made by realtors.

Many cabin boats are also rented as short-term accommodations via airbnb. Will the board decide that someone’s boat in a marina is also a commercial endeavor?

Hotels and established B&B’s differ greatly compared to the basic short-term house rental. Hotels rent multiple units, offering many services. They are true commercial entities. But if a tourist cannot rent a house here, on their terms, they will go elsewhere and not necessarily to a hotel. That hurts other businesses. People who want an airbnb, want an airbnb.

The board has said they are concerned about the profitability of the hotels here. Conversely, one councilman said that the financial concerns of a homeowner, who needs to rent short-term, are not the town’s problem.

If homeowners who rent short-term and hotels are both equally designated as commercial businesses, then should the town board be meddling in what should be free market competition? The board should consider the regulations that restrict such government intervention.

If we are sued, it’s our tax money that pays the legal cost and possibly huge settlements.

The board recently suggested that homeowners who rent short-term should suffer extremely large fines if a tenant violates the noise code. But if anyone else is guilty of the same violation, the penalty would be much less. Is a hotel owner likewise responsible for the crimes of their guests?

So much for equal application of the law here.

Strengthen the noise and nuisance codes if need be and treat all citizens equally. But the real issue for some is the fear that strangers will be living near them. Tourism is our only industry and our residents depend on it. Tourists and transients have always been part of life here, like it or not.

Shelter Island

Nothing divisive
To the Editor:
Congratulations to Peter Waldner and the Reporter for the thought-provoking cartoon depicting our tattered flag (“Paw Print,” November 10). Without a single printed word, Peter was able to leave the interpretation of the piece to the individual reader.

I found nothing divisive or unpatriotic about it. On the contrary, I viewed it as a creative way in which to promote thought and conversation about the state of our country.
Shelter Island

Disrespectful to Jim
To the Editor:
A few thoughts this week regarding Jim Dougherty’s tenure on the Town Board: He has won a fifth term for a reason; he’s highly educated, experienced, with deep, substantial relationships on the East End, including, but not limited to local, Long Island, state representatives and colleagues.

He’s done this job well for a long time. Our taxes are some of the lowest in New York State. Jim works tirelessly to preserve open space, protect our aquifers, limit aircraft noise pollution (the Island was first to ban helicopters in 2007), and champion quality of life for our beautiful Island.

It’s disappointing to see the rest of the Town Board attack him with insults, yelling, and pounding the desk with clenched fists.

That’s unacceptable, disgraceful behavior for elected officials and disrespectful to Jim.

Regarding waiting for grant money to roll in before it is spent, that’s called “common sense 101.” If the grant money does not arrive successfully and on time, who pays? We do — with our tax dollars. We’re standing behind this visionary pragmatist, with his astute fiscal acumen.

Jim gets it done.
Shelter Island