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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


The classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction opened at Disneyland in California.

American actress Lauren Graham, who rose to fame with the television show “Gilmore Girls” was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Red Sox, in a spring training game against the New York Mets trailed 18 to 13 in the eighth inning but rallied in the ninth for 10 runs and won the game 23 to 18.

The Grateful Dead released their self-titled album in San Francisco after recording it for Warner Brothers in Los Angeles over a four-day period.

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” had Americans flocking to movie theaters.

And on Shelter Island . . .

Preservation hot topic on East End

Among the major issues driving an effort 50 years ago to form a separate Peconic County were concerns about preserving farms and other open spaces in East End towns. Municipal officials feared such land would disappear, changing the character of the area.

Meetings were scheduled in various East End towns, including a session at Polish Hall in Riverhead with the New York State Commission on Preservation of Agricultural Land.

POSTSCRIPT: Fifty years later, there’s still no separate Peconic County and concerns continue about the different perspectives of those who live and work in the western part of Suffolk County and those on the East End.

But thanks to Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), who introduced legislation in 1998 to create the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund, a 2 percent tax paid by property buyers has brought in $1.187 billion dollars for the five East End towns to spend purchasing farmland and open spaces since money began to flow in 1999. Both the state and Suffolk County have become partners with  municipalities on some of the land purchases.

Route 114 bridge to be closed to heavy traffic

The weight limit on the old Chase Creek Bridge 30 years ago was deemed by the New York State Department of Transportation to be too high and until the DOT could replace the bridge, it called for rerouting of heavy trucks up New York Avenue.

An independent engineer’s report to the DOT recommended that the limit on the old bridge be set at 10 tons instead of 36 tons, which was the agency’s highest weight allowed anywhere in the state.

It was estimated that the bridge wouldn’t stand up to two or three more years that it was expected to take before a new bridge could be constructed. What was particularly irksome was that in 1972, the state had installed a “temporary bridge” meant to be replaced much sooner.

No one was pleased with the news. The Town Board and Heights Property Owners Corporation protested the long delay in getting a new bridge. The Reporter editorialized about the need to get a new bridge in place more rapidly than the state’s two or three year estimate.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, it’s not a bridge that’s the issue, but roads throughout the town that are just beginning to get more money and attention to keep additional roadways from deteriorating to the point where repaving wouldn’t be sufficient and they would need replacement.

Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. had secured more money from the town and just spent time in Albany lobbying for more state money to flow to municipalities to keep up with the need.

Taxpayers will see no school tax increase for fourth year

It was 20 years ago at this time that the Board of Education was examining its budget proposal for 1997-98 when it determined it could put forth a spending plan that would hold the tax line for the fourth successive year. The previous year actually saw a slight decline in the tax rate for property owners.

The 1996-97 budget of $4.7 million carried a tax rate of $543 per $1,000 of valuation.

POSTSCRIPT: After piercing the state-imposed tax cap for the first time for the current budget of $10.8 million, the administration and Board of Education have been determined to avoid doing so for the 2017-18 budget.

But because enough residents signed a petition for a proposition on the May ballot to bus children to Our Lady of the Hamptons School, beyond the required 15-mile radius, that could force the district to pierce the cap even if the proposition loses. That’s because if the money is added to the overall budget, it could push spending above the allowable tax rate cap limit.

Hallman still testing the waters

A profile of John Hallman in the Reporter in mid March 2007 recounted his personal, public and business activities on Shelter Island. At the time, Mr. Hallman was still chairman of the town’s Water Advisory Committee and later went on to serve on the Irrigation Committee.

Throughout his service there, he was a strong advocate for strong water conservation measures, warning that a number of wells had experienced salt water intrusion.

He has received many honors during his years of public service, including being named Citizen of the Year and receiving the Silver Beaver Scouting Award. He also served as president of the Board of Education for a number of years.

POSTSCRIPT: While stepping down from his public role in 2015, he continues, with his wife Carol, to operate his own water and cesspool analysis, environmental and soil testing and gas business.

He has provided professional services to the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corporation, the Village of Dering Harbor and the West Neck Water District as well as to many individual property owners.

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