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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


United States planes bombed Haiphong in North Vietnam for the first time

The Applications Technology Satellite Program launched an experimental communications satellite for the second time meant to provide information on weather technology and investigations of space environment, but the second time, the satellite failed to reach orbit.

English model actress and singer Twiggy  became a sensation in London and the United States.

Golfer Gay Brewer Jr. won the 31st Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Course beating Bobby Nichols.

And on Shelter Island . . .

One man — one vote or one town — one vote?

That was the question before the United States Supreme Court 50 years ago faced with an east-west dispute over the makeup of the Suffolk County Legislature.

East End towns argued for a one town-one vote solution while western towns wanted a one man-one vote decision. What the court had to decide was whether the one man-one vote policy that extended to states also affected counties.

Indeed, the court upheld that view and the result was that two or three western towns could dominate decisions of the County Legislature.

POSTSCRIPT: It was that thinking that persists today by East Enders who continue to hope for a reapportionment or a separate Peconic County since they send more money to the county than they get back in services. The western towns, meanwhile, continue to rule the roost when it comes to Suffolk County Legislature decisions, so often split along east-west lines.

Consultant advocates water restrictions

The hottest topic at this time 30 years ago was water management.

Gus Guerrera, a former chief chemist for the Suffolk County Water Authority before he started his own consulting firm, told the Island’s Water Advisory Committee to continue restrictions on water usage.

He called the Island’s water a “relatively limited resource which fluctuates seasonally in addition to having many variables involved.”

WAC chairman John Hallman had offered the same advice and called for a moratorium on installation of swimming pools and automatic sprinkler systems.

POSTSCRIPT: Concerns continue about the Island’s water supply and those with swimming pools must fill them with water brought from off-Island while use of automatic irrigation systems is also subject to limits, including installation of cisterns.

But besides quantity, water quality is getting attention with testing under way in what is planned as a three-year study.

Taylor’s Island: A new town parkland with an uncertain future

That headline fit for Taylor’s Island back in the early spring of 1997. The late S. Gregory Taylor had willed Taylor’s Island to the town 53 years earlier to be used initially by a relative, but to eventually revert to the town “for the use and enjoyment of the general public.”

While the town also received $47,000 in principal and interest, the cabin needed major work, bulkheads were in poor repair and the question for the government was how much it would cost to make it usable and whether it was worth the investment for a piece of property that could only be reached by boat or on foot at low tides.

POSTSCRIPT: Enter the remarkable P.A.T. Hunt and her loyal band of volunteers who did as much work as they could themselves while they applied for grant funding. The jewel that juts out into Coecles Harbor has been lovingly restored with ongoing attention to current needs and, of course, future funding for maintenance.

But it is today what Mr. Taylor hoped it would be — a place for use and enjoyment of the general public.

LIRR reviews East End shuttle plan

Representatives of the Long Island Rail Road and Five Town Rural Transit met to discuss a shuttle service to enhance transportation on the East End. The meeting was characterized as an introductory session to discuss possible options, including a Rural Transit Authority that would run such a service.

But the East Enders were open to the idea of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and the LIRR developing its own plan for better serving transportation needs on the area.

POSTSCRIPT: Fast forward to the present time and enhancing service is still just a discussion topic. Councilwoman Chris Lewis, who has been representing Shelter Island, continues to see nothing on the horizon that would improve the needs of residents here.

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