Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


No threat
To the Editor:
It befuddles why your editorial (“Vote no on extra transportation costs”, March 16), is painting the petition to transport students to Our Lady of the Hamptons (OLH) as an adversary of the school district budget. The proposed budget for 2017-18 is $11,291,936. The cost to transport students to OLH (if transportation is not shared with Hayground and Ross) is $65,736. That’s 0.58 percent, half of one percent, of the entire budget. To target this expense as the line item that will “break the bank” is sheer nonsense. We can do math.

You wrote, “Whenever a school district is forced to take on extra expenses for students outside the district … it comes out of the overall budget.” Who, exactly, is “outside” the district? We are all a part of this district, regardless of school.

Parents of non public school students pay taxes, work on the Island, own businesses and volunteer in the community. They do not deserve to have a wedge driven between them and the local school community.

No doubt the local Board of Education does noble work managing a budget loaded with unfunded state mandates and increasing costs each year. It is worth noting, however, that rather recently our district provided school bus transportation to Stella Maris (now closed), Child Development Center of the Hamptons (now closed), Hayground, and Ross School. Evidently, transportation costs can be managed without cutting programs or increasing taxes.

Parochial schools and public schools have flourished side-by-side for over a century.

One is not a threat to the other. With Stella Maris closed, OLH is the regional parochial school and parents are asking for transportation services to be restored through a minimal mileage extension.

This petition is about school choice and representation for taxation. Let’s provide more options for young families and more choices for our children’s education.

Please vote “Yes” to the proposition on May 16.
Shelter Island

What could have been
To the Editor:
The first letter to the editor (“Placing blame”) and the editorial of March 16 go hand in hand. It’s amazing that the Catholic schools nearby have closed and the choice for a Catholic education is either Southampton or Riverhead.

Just imagine if the Diocese of Rockville Centre bought St. Gabe’s, they could have had a wonderful school to draw from the North and South forks, complete with a chapel and then they could have rented the dock to the town. And, just imagine if the situation were reversed and the town bought the place.

It could have happened. If there is money available through grants for a electric car charging station, certainly there would have been money available for St. Gabe’s, considering the possibilities.

Now, the rest of the letters, excluding “Rock On”, which I do not understand at all, are perfect in opposing the proposed short-term rental legislation. The letter from Ms. d’Arcambel is spot on, those that are doing or have had STRs are being treated like second class citizens, which they are not.

The other two letters are so perfect — I know both writers and they know of what they write. Town Board, pay attention.

My clients who have had rental listings with my office for over 30 years are not happy and neither am I.
Shelter Island

CIA would be proud
To the Editor:
For years now, we have rented our home out for weekends in June, early July, September and October to one lovely family, wedding party or reunion group after another.

In all that time we have never had one complaint from our neighbors or the police.

That is because we vet our renters before accepting them with a vengeance that a CIA operative would be proud of. To suggest that we are going to open up our home to any Tom, Dick or Harry and all their friends who fancy a party is just plain idiotic!

Do you honestly believe that any of us want disruptive, rude and inconsiderate people trashing our homes and annoying our neighbors? That most of us do not already have strict rules as to age minimums and group size maximums? That we don’t have rigorous guidelines as to behavior and noise? That we don’t take references on our renters? That we don’t have anyone on the Island to immediately deal with any issues that may arise?

I would suggest you ask our neighbors who they prefer to be in our house. Any one of our polite, considerate “pet-less” renters to date, or we the owners, when we arrive each July with our three teen/tween children and their entourage of friends screaming in the pool all day, two barking dogs and a mother who has no qualms in vocalizing the fact that she’s usually had enough. I know whom I would much rather have next door.

To say that the proposed short-term rental laws are to stop the noise and disruption of hordes of weekend renters destroying the bucolic nature of the Island is disingenuous at best. At worst it makes those looking to implement them appear completely out of touch with both the reality of the Island rental business and the Island economy as a whole.

Before everyone gets overexcited and jumps on the “ban the weekend renter” bandwagon of neighboring towns, perhaps they should consider while an empty house does wonders for a silent neighborhood, it does nothing for the Island’s economy. Never mind short-term rental laws, more like short-sighted madness.
Shelter Island

We are the people
To the Editor:
In the February 16 issue of the Reporter, while discussing the proposed short-term rental restrictions on Island homeowners, Paul Shepherd is quoted as asking “Who are these people who have a second home to rent out in its entirety? Why am I helping them?”

Happy to clarify. We are the people who invested our savings in a home on Shelter Island in 2002. We further supported the Island economy by employing only Island businesses for all renovations and continue to do so for all ongoing maintenance needs.

We are the people who support the Island economy by spending all our vacations, holidays and, for the 11 years we lived in New York City, every weekend on Shelter Island. We are the people who support every community event going from One Day in History to the Fourth of July fireworks to the Snapper Derby — even when we can’t be there. We give generously to the annual emergency service appeals, to Mashomack, to Sylvester Manor, to the Friends of the Library (in the first two years of the Turkey Plunge alone we raised nearly $10,000 for this).

Furthermore, we choose to spend our now limited vacation time running the Shelter Island Cricket Match, which, in the last five years, has raised nearly $70,000 for the Shelter Island Volunteer Ambulance Service.

We are the people who, when we moved from the city, made the choice to try and keep our home. Instead of leaving it empty 11 months a year, we go through significant time and effort to rent our home most weekends throughout the spring, early summer and fall months to wonderful families who in turn significantly support the Island’s economy outside of the peak summer season.

We are the people who support the Island’s economy and community every way we can all year round. We are the people, of whom we are far from alone, who if your proposed short-term rental restrictions are forced on us, will have no choice but to let our homes go and we can all say goodbye to all that.

We are the people, Mr. Shepherd, like it or not, that you and most other Islanders will very much miss when we are gone.
Shelter Island

To the Editor:
In the effort to limit short-term rentals (STRs) on Shelter Island the Town Board has decided it would be wise to copy the regulations in place on the North and South forks. This will come to some sort of resolution in the near future for better or worse.

Hopefully, the town will reap many financial gains from registrations and especially the large fines to be imposed upon the violators.

Maybe the next thing the board should consider is copying from Staten Island. In their effort to reduce the deer population, Staten Islanders are capturing male deer and giving them vasectomies. Brilliant! The cost is approximately $3,000 per deer all told.

The money collected relating to STRs would be able to pay for a strict enforcement officer and maybe also some humane deer vasectomies.

Copying is exactly the wrong decision for these regulations going forward. It will result in exactly the opposite of the hoped for outcome. We will be just like our neighbors to the North and the South, not the different place we all love and want to protect.

As for the bucks, they will be shooting blanks; the does will go into heat repeatedly throughout the fall and winter. They would become “buck magnets,” according to a Cornell study. The hot-to-trot does could attract bucks from near and far for many more months — including still-potent potential mates swimming over from the North and South forks.

But an influx of male deer is the least of the plan’s problems, according to experts. Treated bucks would be sterile but still have a strong sex drive. So during an extended rutting season, there would be more perilous encounters with humans as the mad-with-lust bucks heedlessly run around looking for mates.

So with STRs and deer with vasectomies, it’s the unintended consequences that we should all beware of.
Shelter Island

Truth is the loser
To the Editor:
If speaking truth to power is rude — so be it, I’m guilty. If confronting hypocrisy is rude — so be it, I’m guilty. If calling out bias and discrimination is rude — so be it, I’m guilty. If exposing outright lies through documented evidence is rude — so be it, I’m guilty. If exposing coercion and collusion is rude — so be it, I’m guilty. If saying no to unethical and improper behavior is rude — so be it, I’m guilty.

History has unfortunately demonstrated that when good people remain silent in the face of evil or overreaching government, bad things always happen. If ordinary people don’t stand up for those who can’t or are afraid or intimidated, we have learned the hard way what kind of world this would be.

When facts are overshadowed by innuendo and fear mongering, truth is the loser.

Regarding short-term rentals, the Town Board has let most of us down big time and they should be ashamed of what they are doing to our community. They have created a situation where many people are now avoiding others or looking away.

They are on the verge of pitting neighbor against neighbor. They have divided families. They are going to force some to leave the home and place they love. They are purchasing “spyware” to look into your private dealings. They are hiring an enforcement officer to knock on your doors or go through your garbage as they do in other towns.

The Board will be inflicting economic suicide on the Island we love.

It has gone much further than the rental issue. It is about putting the well-being of all the people and facts first — not personal opinions and preferences. The board was elected to be fair and responsive to all, not just those that threaten.

Those board members should have recused themselves. They didn’t. Now they should resign because to most people their credibility is gone!

Fellow Islanders, this is the sad state of affairs we find ourselves in today. For what?

Because some among us don’t like the “noise,” or some don’t like “the other,” or some are jealous or some are just selfish?

Wake up. Time is running out. Make yourself heard or say goodbye to the place you love, as you know it.
Shelter Island

To the Editor:
I recently received through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request a response from the town with copies of “all emails sent or received by Town Board members from town-owned email addresses containing the phrases “Short Term Rental” or “STR” in the body or subject.

I received 120 from Supervisor Dougherty, three from Councilwoman Lewis, nine from Councilman Colligan, 20 from Councilman Shepherd, 24 from former Councilwoman Dudley, and three from Town Clerk Ogar.

That’s covering their entire town employment up to the date it was requested. The exemptions were not explained in written statement as required by law. I have appealed the request to include the exempted emails. I hope those who exempted emails will disclose, as required by law, this time around.

By count our supervisor included all 120 emails and the other board members exempted as few as three by one. This shows these board members don’t want us to see what they have been planning regarding STRs.

Ms. Lewis sent three emails in her entire town employment history that mentioned Short Term Rentals? Mr. Colligan, the most impassioned of those pushing for strict regulation, sent nine? I don’t think so.

What are the board members trying to hide from the public? No reason was offered why they were not included in the response. Board members chose exactly what emails would be released. I applaud Supervisor Dougherty for his disclosure.

Interestingly what was included offered some insight into the backroom dealings by some board members. One member states in an email response to a resident seeking strict regulation in December 2016 that his group come forward and help him get strict regulations on STRs, as he was being “overrun by the other side.”

Also included was evidence in email chains that board members were conducting town business from personal email accounts, but that was only discovered through the supervisor’s lack of exempting emails from this FOIL request that I saw this.

Was this done to avoid being on the public record?

Lastly, Airbnb contacted the board with facts regarding STRs on the Island and the board chose to not discuss publicly as a member stated “to limit our exposure.”

I implore members who withheld emails to not do so in their response to my FOIL appeal. If they have nothing to hide, show us what you wrote about town business in your email.
Shelter Island

Stand up
To the Editor:
It is interesting that the headlines selected for two of my letters to the editor include language from my letters that have the effect — even if unintended — of diminishing a woman’s views. The first was “angry,” the second was “feminist shudders.”

Nobody likes an “angry feminist.”

It is further interesting that Councilman Jim Colligan and a Heights resident criticized two other women who are vocal anti-regulation advocates. They concocted a story that one of the women ghost wrote the other’s letter to the editor because she needed a “beard.”

The only support for this outlandish and possibly libelous claim was from their internet stalking, which revealed that “the two ladies in question” are Facebook friends. Mr. Colligan bragged that he “[has] [the Reporter] working on that for me.”

Against this backdrop is that, according to Airbnb, two thirds of Shelter Island Airbnb hosts are women. Indeed, the reason it’s difficult to rent for more than a week is that the “family” who can rent for the summer with the mother meeting the father at the Friday ferry is long gone.

Additionally, certain compelling town emails show that board members are working with non-board members to further their agenda.  While arguably politics as usual, certain actions could be considered improper: soliciting heads of neighborhood associations to further regulation that many of its members are against; sending drafts of the proposed regulations to “friends.”

Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams reassured nonresidents who spend the winter in warmer climes that it was fine to miss the January 31, 2017 hearing on short-term rentals because “it may look like we are not allowing homeowners who are away to weigh in in-person, the goal is to give us the opportunity to draft something different that will then require new public hearing at a later date, when more people are here.”

Postponing the hearing may not have allowed the board to revise the proposed law to add a minimum stay requirement.

I rearranged my work and personal schedule so I could appear at the January 31 hearing, which I now understand was a waste of my time.

This is the first time I have entered the political fray on Shelter Island. I did so because this is a very important issue both to me and many who are afraid to let their opinions known publicly. I believe it is important to stand up for what I believe is right.
Shelter Island

Editor’s Note: In Ms. d’Arcambal’s letter published with the headline “Angry,” in the February 2 edition, the Reporter quoted verbatim from her text, where she used the phrase “I am angry,” three times.

The letter headlined “A feminist shudders,” in the March 16 edition, quoted verbatim from her text, where Ms. d’Arcambal wrote: “The authoritarian attitudes expressed to justify taking away existing rights — ‘based on my opinion’ not facts — make this feminist shudder.”

No one at the Reporter is “working” for anyone except the publisher.

The third letter to the editor Ms. d’Arcambal refers to was published. And there was research done to see if the person who signed the letter actually wrote it.