Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


Letters to the editor that are exclusive to the Reporter are welcome. Submissions may be faxed, hand delivered or mailed but the preferred method is by email as an attached document sent to [email protected]  Addresses and telephone numbers are required but will not be published. All letters must have a signer; letters sent on behalf of a committee or other organization will not be accepted without a name. Anonymous letters will not be accepted. Letters will be rejected or edited for libelous or malicious content. Repetitive letters from the same author will be edited.
All writers are encouraged to keep their letters under 400 words.

Early warning system
To the Editor:
The recent editorial (“District finances are sound,” February 2) regarding the finances of the Shelter Island School District and my office’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System missed the mark.

The system — developed by auditors and financial experts who understand the complexity of school district budgets — examines a range of financial indicators to objectively illustrate how an individual district is moving closer to or further away from the categories of stress.

The main objective of the system is to help local officials ascertain exactly how their score is generated and which financial indicators are driving the accumulation of points from one year to the next, or in practical terms, causing fiscal stress. They can then direct their efforts towards fixing the specific problems with much greater precision.

Since implementing our early warning system in 2013, this information has been well received by both local officials and taxpayers across New York, and it’s clear that we have created a tool that has helped them better understand their community’s true financial picture.

In Shelter Island, residents now know that by being classified as “susceptible to fiscal stress,” the district is exhibiting some signs of fiscal stress, such as persistent operating deficits and the reliance on short-term borrowing. While we agree that there is no immediate cause for alarm, the district could be vulnerable if its financial situation deteriorates or changes.

My hope is taxpayers can use this type of independent analysis to ask questions of district officials and generate frank discussions about budget planning and the development of sound multi-year financial plans.

After all, our local governments face fiscal pressures that are unlikely to change any time soon and careful management of municipal and school district finances is even more critical than ever.
New York State Comptroller

Hearing footsteps
To the Editor:
I find it absolutely unacceptable that an elected official would endorse, by proxy of administrative appointment, a partisan reaction such as the one issued by Congressman Lee Zeldin’s office last week (“Appointment only now at Zeldin’s office,” February 9): ”Zeldin spokeswoman Jennifer DiSiena said the policy change came because of ‘new disruption tactics of these liberal obstructionists locally and nationally.’”

Congressman Zeldin has a Constitutional responsibility to meet with his constituents and to honor what his electorate desires. Slander and partisan disparagement is certainly not part of any government employee’s job description.

I would like to remind my fellow citizens of Teddy Roosevelt’s comment nearly a century ago: “Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his [the president’s] acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.”

Such expressions and actions, literally and figuratively, are the footsteps of Americans. When our representatives hear these footsteps, not just once or twice, but every day, pounding in a crescendo of strong beats, then, maybe, they will begin to do what is right.
Shelter Island

Need for face time
To the Editor:
As one of Congressman Lee Zeldin’s constituents I have attended several of the peaceful gatherings at his office along with other East Enders, sent emails and made phone calls to his offices in Washington, D.C., Riverhead and Patchogue in an effort to find out when and where the congressman will hold a town hall meeting. None of these efforts have worked.

Mr. Zeldin has a responsibility to all of his constituents to be available in person. The citizens who are committed to learning first hand where he stands on issues that impact greatly on their lives are not, to quote his spokesperson “liberal obstructionists.” They are Democrats, Republicans, Independents and those with no political affiliation. What we have in common is having a congressman who is not available in person to have a dialogue with his constituents. Meeting one-on-one is not the answer.

We need a town hall format so we can learn about the issues that are impacting on our neighbors as well as ourselves.

While the House is in recess this week I would urge those who are concerned about where our congressman stands on the issues to call him and find out when and where he will hold a town hall meeting.
Mr. Zeldin’s staff can be reached in Riverhead at (631) 209-4235, in Patchogue at (631) 289-1097 and in Washington D.C. (202) 225-3826.
Shelter Island

What it means to me
To the Editor:
At a time when he is receiving criticism for his political cartoons, I applaud Peter Waldner for using his artistic talent to speak truth to power.

The question is not whether Mr. Waldner respects the office of the president, but whether Mr. Trump does.
Shelter Island

To the Editor:
I found Peter Waldner’s Paw Print cartoon of February 2 insulting to Punxsutawney Phil. He deserves better than to be portrayed as a weasel.
Shelter Island

Depend on it
To the Editor:
I am a property owner on Shelter Island. I would appreciate it if the Town Board would refrain from voting on a bill that would end short-term rentals.

We are an Island community that depends upon tourism for a few months of the year when restaurants and other shops make most of their money. We need those weekend tourists.

Although I sometimes rent out my home, most of the time I use it myself. But other people depend onthose rents to be able to afford to live here. Let’s not make such a drastic change to our Island.

If some tenants are too loud and bother the neighbors, then we have a noise ordinance. The police can be called and the offending party can turn down the music. But we should not pass such a stringent law because a few residents are upset about the noise.
Shelter Island

To the Editor:
There is no correlation between quality of life complaints and short-term rentals (STRs). Nor is there any correlation between affordable housing and STRs. As an activist Democrat, I am embarrassed that this has become a political issue.

Continuation of our right as property owners to rent is not a Republican or Democratic concern. It is a people issue and correlates with helping Shelter Island’s economy and working people as well as allowing us to rent to working families and diverse segments of the population.

Let’s keep Shelter Island welcoming.
Shelter Island

Through the looking glass
To the Editor:
In the ordinary Gregorian calendar year, there are 353 distinct 13-day periods with consecutive days (e.g., January 1 to 13, January 2 to 14, etc.), and an additional twelve 13-day intervals from December 20 to December 31, that roll into the following year up to January 12 (e.g., December 25 to January 6). Likewise, there are 365 distinct 12-day periods, and 365 distinct 11-day periods and so on down to 365 distinct 1-day intervals.

The Town Board and opponents of vacation rentals are proposing to control and prevent the reasonable and ordinary usage of the private homes of all residents for all of these unique periods less than 14 days.

Any government acquisition of control of a citizen’s property, be it partial or total, requires just compensation. What price is the board willing to pay each homeowner to compensate for this taking?

The board is also proposing that homeowners who rent their private property maintain a “rental registry” with the names and contact details of all guests, and that this registry be available to the public. Will the Rockefellers of the Island now be required to submit for public consumption the identities of the guests for their short-term summer soirées and champagne cruises?

These two questions highlight the absurd, Alice-in-Wonderland nature of the board’s proposed “vacation rental legislation.” This divisive, unnecessary and unlawful proposal is an affront to efficient, just and limited governance.

I have been a summer and winter vacationer on the Island since 2005 and ask the board: Don’t tread on the sanctities of an individual’s home and privacies of life. And don’t deprive pensioners and less affluent Islanders of the reasonable use of their private property.
New York City

‘Getting along-ness’
To the Editor:
We all have the right to the quiet enjoyment of our home and a right to defend and protect that quiet enjoyment.

But, we must remember this is America, and we did not defeat the King of England so that we can print laws that allow policing powers that can come into our bedrooms and demand: Are you paying taxes? Do you have insurance? Do you have a license? Are you registered with Suffolk County?

We must also remember that this is Shelter Island. We are an island community with essentially a moat all around us. Therefore, all laws should foster good human relations and not pit neighbor against neighbor, but, promote and strive for a “getting along-ness” among all. Very important!
Shelter Island

Bridge for sale
To the Editor:
Last week the Town Board discussed the latest version of the short-term rental (STR) draft legislation. Notable changes, including the exclusions in the legislative intent of the “commercialization of residential neighborhoods” and the “conversion of long-term rentals to short-term rentals reduces the availability of affordable rental housing …” It seems the board came to their senses and realized there was no factual basis for either of these claims.

As Supervisor Dougherty said once, “You need a reason for a law.” Where is the reason for this law? And where are the facts that support it?

If we are back to the main “reason” being quality of life concerns, where are the facts that prove STRs are to blame? Why can’t we rely on our well-trained police force and good neighbor relations to enforce any issues? Freedom of Information requests for police responses to residential homes listed as STRs show there is no correlation.

These figures were presented at the public hearing. Most noise complaints are from business establishments, the obvious offender being Sunset Beach and other non-STR residences.

Where are the facts that prove two weeks is somehow the magic number for a minimum night stay? Other facts have been presented to demonstrate that two weeks will have a negative impact on tourist dollars coming to the Island. The only facts presented in favor of two weeks are “because all the other towns are doing it.”

Not good enough. Those towns are tens of thousands of dollars deep in litigation, and the cost of enforcement is still unknown to all taxpayers. If all the other towns were bidding to buy the Brooklyn Bridge would Shelter Island, too?
Shelter Island

Real concerns
To the Editor:
I understand the concern about short-term rentals having an effect on the quality of life. I also see the need of many individuals to want to control their neightbors’ behavior.

In answering this concern I have heard many reasons to draft legislation that limits or forbids such rentals. 1. Investers or speculators are buying up property to turn them into hotels or businesses, buying up property that full-time residents could buy, lowering property values. 2. Short-term renters have less respect for the property or their neighbors. 3. Use up more water.

All these concerns are real, but not only the result of short-term rentals.

To buy a $500,000 house to rent to make money would be the worse investment I would ever make. I could buy a ton of stocks that would pay me a 5 percent profit without doing anything. That would net me $25,000 a year. Buying a house costing $500K would net me a loss of $25,000 when considering interest, tax, insurance and maintenance.

These investors, or speculators as some like to call them, are more apt to be second-home buyers wanting to share a part of the good life we enjoy on Shelter Island, trying to subsidize their expenses. They often make improvements to the property. They pay school taxes, which, in turn, lowers our taxes. They don’t water their lawns.

They do take property that locals could buy if they weren’t so expensive. If it wasn’t for speculators, houses would be more affordable. In other words, your property would be worth less if there was less of a market. Isn’t that lowering home values?

Other towns have regulations. Before you proceed to create new laws, I ask you to first find out what these regulations are and how they are enforced. We have enough laws on the books that can’t be enforced.

What I am asking is that you not hurry to create new legislation. Don’t be rushed because you are feeling pressured. You don’t have all the answers. Wait until you do. Think of how you can enforce such a law. Do you want to enter someone’s house without a warrant? Do you want to count the beds or the cars in the driveway or the people attending a birthday party? Does the homeowner have enough insurance? Did he register as a rentor? Did he collect rent?
John Quigley
Shelter Island

Boeklen Mortage Fund Committee
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Boeklen Mortgage Fund Committee, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to not only the members of the Shelter Island community, but to members of the surrounding communities as well, for their most generous contributions towards the Boeklen family mortgage.
The outpouring of love and dedication to this mission has been incredible. To date, $102,000 of our $319,000 goal has been raised through pledges and donations.
Thank you for sharing in our vision and participating in the mission to help Mary, Billy, Danny and Grandpa Bill stay in their home.
For any readers who would like to partner with the community in this worthy cause, please call (631) 749-1200 for further details.
Shelter Island