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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


The wheels of justice turn slowly but in May 1967 the Butler Act, which prohibited the teaching of evolution in Tennessee and was the focus of the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial, was finally repealed.

Andy Clyde, who portrayed the Hopalong Cassidy movie and radio sidekick California Carlson, died in Los Angeles at the age of 75.

Americans were listening to “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals.

“Barefoot in the Park” starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda was drawing crowds to movie theaters.

Thornton Wilder’s “The Eighth Day” was among the most popular books, considered an American epic dealing with how two families involved in a murder mystery are torn apart.

And on Shelter Island . . .


City of Suffolk

Anthony Travis, who was heading the Constitutional Convention in 1967, offered a vision that saw the entire state of New York broken up into large cities. That would include, for example, all of Suffolk County becoming a single City of Suffolk with a governmental unit that would be all powerful.

He saw no individual towns and villages with their own governmental units, but police, the highway department, zoning regulations, beaches, shellfish limits and all manner of oversight handled by a single Suffolk City Hall run out of Riverhead.

At the time, some towns and villages were being poorly managed, whch helped to foster the concept and deny home rule for smaller units of government.

POSTSCRIPT: Ultimately, Mr. Travis’ vision didn’t take hold and individual villages and towns continue to have their own governmental units.

But the Suffolk County Legislature continues to dominate on some issues and with relatively little representation from the East End, some say. Western Suffolk receives the most bang for its bucks with the East End often begging for more tax money to be returned to towns and villages to meet needs here. critics charge.

Suffolk County has proven unpopular with many East Enders who, from time to time, raise  the concept of a separate Peconic County that would be focused on East End needs.


WAC seeks consultant

In May 1987, the Water Advisory Committee sought approval to hire a consultant at an approximate cost of $6,000 to assist in groundwater management. August Guerrera, a former Suffolk County Water Authority and an expert, was needed to guide the committee with respect to Suffolk County Department of Health Services requirements and ways to obtain waivers from some requirements that can’t be met here because of the contour of the Island.

Initially, Mr. Guerrera told committee members to apply for a waiver of 40-foot of submergence screens in private wells in areas where the water table is two feet or less. He also recommended various water conservation measures.

POSTSCRIPT: In 1987, much attention was focused on water quantity and means of ensuring the Island’s fragile aquifer would be protected. But now, the committee and Town Board have widened studies, continuing to look at water quantity, but also studying quality with respect to saltwater intrusion in wells and nitrogen levels in water.

It’s expected that samples being taken now will eventually be tested for other elements, including prescription drug contents.


Noise law gags 10k post party

The town’s noise ordinance had been on the books only two months when organizers of the annual 10K showed up at Town Hall in May 1997 to seek an exemption. At issue was how to go forward with the annual post-race party, then held at the Shelter Island Country Club, without violating the new noise ordinance.

The ordinance required that amplified music not produce sound levels greater than 50 decibels measured at or beyond the real property line of property from where the sound originated.

With more than 800 people expected to party at the Shelter Island Country Club after the race, organizers sought a one-night waiver.

While Town Board members agreed there should be a waiver for charity events, there was no time to advertise the change, hold a public hearing and amend the new law prior to the event.

All Town Board members could suggest is that the organizers ask police to test the sound at an upcoming event at the Legion Hall and try to adjust amplifiers accordingly.

The party went forward and there’s no record of complaints or fines.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s noise ordinance provides for exemptions for town-sponsored and charitable events.


Raymond passes on re-election

Neal Raymond had been elected to the Town Board to serve the remaining two years of Jim Messer’s term following Mr. Messer’s death. He had defeated Mr. Messer’s widow, Janalyn Travis-Messer in 2005. But in May 2007, he announced that he wanted to turn his attention to other interests and wouldn’t be seeking election to a full term of his own.

Mr. Raymond had previously served on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals and Board of Assessment Review and had a background in Suffolk County law enforcement. In 2006, he sought election as a town justice, but lost that race to Patricia Quigley.

POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Raymond is a current member of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

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