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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


To the Editor:
The Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce strives to fully support all of its members, drive business to the Island, and boost tourism through marketing, fundraising events and most recently, media relations.

In regards to the considerable political fray over the Town Board’s proposed legislation of short-term rentals (STRs), the Chamber has taken a neutral stance, as our members reflect both sides of the debate.

We fully recognize the apparent impact that STRs have on our economy and tourism. Yet, we tempered our communication in a recent letter to the editor due to the divided view on this subject among our own members, and acknowledged our charter, which clearly dictates that we are nonpartisan and shall not partake in influencing political outcomes.

It is hard to remember another piece of legislation in front of our Town Board that has been more politically fueled. We respect the board, and feel that therein lies the appropriate forum for political debate and discussion.
President, Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce

What’s next
To the Editor:
My first two questions about the STR law are: Does the town have the authority to regulate STRs, and second, should it? What I hear from the opposition is “no” to both.

But what if the answer to the first question is “yes?” Why then would the town regulate and to what end? Maybe it is a little like the mooring law — when there were just a few moorings in the harbor all was fine, but when the harbor started to fill up and others came to try to make money on town bottoms, we got a law.

One or two STR houses on the Island would hardly be noticeable, but what about a whole street of STRs? What if Smith Street from Route 114 to School Street was predominantly STRs? Wouldn’t that change the character of the Island? And is that something the Town Board should try to influence?

My observations on the issue bring me to recall Napster, the first music downloading service. It was so good, it can’t be legal, we thought, and we turned out to be right. To me, Airbnb is similar.

When is a house a hotel? Some I guess will say “never.” But again, what happens when all of Smith Street is STRs and a coffee truck goes down the block every morning, bringing fresh-squeezed juice and croissants? Does the economics on Shelter Island of low taxes, make the overhead of a dedicated STR house more feasible compared to other surrounding towns?

Everybody who owns on the Island benefits from those who have come before us. This town has a history of being frugal, of self-sufficiency — will that stay intact?

If STR owners become the new force that dictates the direction of the Board, is the Suffolk County Water Authority next? Is a STR house viable with a brown lawn? And who is filling the pool? And what about the Halloween Parade? Will STR houses hire actors to portray real homeowners and hand out candy?
Shelter Island

Well documented
To the Editor:
The front-page article in the April 13 Reporter (“Arguments for, against STR regs aired again”) once again demonstrates why it earned the nickname “The Distorter.”

We all understand through editorials that have been written that the Reporter firmly supports STR regulation and that is fine. However, it is not fine to distort statements that are opposed at a public hearing.

In the case of my statement, the Reporter seeks to dismiss it by implying I was making an absurd connection to the federal Russian intervention investigation into our elections and the STR controversy here on the Island. The very clear point I made — and you can check the video tape of the hearing — was if senior government officials like Attorney General Jeff Sessions and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes are willing to recuse themselves because of the appearance of impropriety whether true or false, Councilman Jim Colligan should recuse himself from the STR vote because of the well-documented impropriety he has exhibited throughout this unfortunate saga.

Instead of telling this writer that he will do so “when hell freezes over,” he should acknowledge that his language and actions over the last nine months cast little doubt that he has on no occasion demonstrated open-mindedness, fairness or the willingness to listen to any argument that doesn’t agree with his position. This Island is not his fiefdom. He is an elected public official whose job description should be to fairly represent the best interests of all the people of Shelter Island, not just the few who pull his strings. His bias is abundantly clear to many Islanders. He has been reprimanded and called out by numerous citizens on these very pages for his words and deeds, the most recent being just last week.

For this writer it is a question of ethics and fairness — not winning or losing the vote. I accept that the law will likely be passed despite overwhelming opposition with or without Mr. Colligan’s vote.

My point however remains: If he wants to be taken seriously in the future he should recuse himself from this vote or forever be suspect in all actions that come before him on the board — even if hell doesn’t freeze over!
Shelter Island
There was no ‘distortion.’ Mr. Adler made a connection at the public hearing between the federal investigations and the STR debate, as he clearly states above. — Ed.

Well deserved
To the Editor:
Congratulations to you and the entire staff of the Reporter for the 16 awards received for editorial excellence from the New York Press Association (“NY Press Assoc. taps Reporter as one of top weeklies in state,” April 13).

Your coverage of everyday Island political news, community news and events, feature series, local sporting events, school district coverage and satirical cartoons by Peter Waldner keeps the community well-informed about issues of importance and interest.

The “Past President’s Award for General Excellence” is well deserved.
Shelter Island

Honoring the legacy
To the Editor:
Thank you for your online and print edition photos and story of our recent Taylor’s Island events, celebrating our Shelter Island treasure.

Taylor’s Island continues to bring out the best of an ever-widening circle of people. That was demonstrated by our afternoon open house and evening vintage wine tasting at Hanff’s Boatyard in Greenport. The events, held on March 25, Greek Independence Day, were hosted by the Taylor’s Island Foundation. Patricia and Ed Shillingburg’s research revealed that at the time of his death in 1948, Mr. Taylor’s motorboat was at Hanff’s.

We accepted John Costello’s gracious offer to use Hanff’s as a venue for a fundraiser. For a silent auction local artists enthusiastically painted and sculpted a total of 24 fish, 28 if you count the artists who chose to paint both sides! These pine fish were patterned from the fish balusters of the Smith-Taylor Cabin tower’s staircase and balcony and made from scraps left over from the restoration of the kitchen and full bathroom.

In addition to the fish on auction, we included offerings of a spotted sandpiper decoy, a half-day fishing trip with lunch on Taylor’s Island and an original design wampum and silver necklace.

A highlight for all was the food prepared by members of the church next door and a tour of Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church conducted by Father Jerasimos Ballas.

We wish to thank all of our above contributors. Your efforts delighted over one hundred people who joined us and benefit the Smith-Taylor Cabin and Taylor’s Island. To our volunteers and supporters, we thank you for always finding a way to honor the legacy of S. Gregory Taylor (Soterios Gregorios Tavoulares).
The Taylor’s Island Foundation