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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Beatles manager Brian Epstein died of an drug overdose and was found in his locked bedroom with some suggesting it marked the beginning of the Beatles’ dissolution.

American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell was assassinated in Arlington, Virginia by a former party member who had been ejected from the group because he tried to bring Marxist doctrine into the party’s platforms.

The final episode of ABC’s “The Fugitive” drew 78 million viewers.

The East Coast Wrestling Association was established.

The number one song in the nation was Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe.”

And on Shelter Island . . .


A TELCO policy change to add more fire horns

A New York Telephone Company policy change 50 years ago was proposed to allow more fire horns to be placed on the Island at an affordable rate. The plan called for a $5 installation fee on each horn along with a $5 monthly charge.

The horns were an answer to problems with the alarm system the Heights and Center fire districts were experiencing and were expected to provide clear signals for the technology that existed at the time.

POSTSCRIPT: Fast forward to what has been galloping technological advances. The Shelter Island Fire District is looking at improving communications in the Ram Island and Hay Beach areas by having a tower erected by Elite Towers at the Manhanset Firehouse on Cobbetts Lane.

Currently, firefighters have said they have no communications in those areas to call for backup assistance.

Besides the improved communications, the new tower would provide the district with an initial payment of $100,000 and then ongoing payments of half the revenue that the company seeking to erect the tower receives from cell phone providers. In addition, the department would be able to put its own antenna on the tower without a fee.

The money would be used to defray the cost of new radio equipment required because the FCC has ordered a change from low to high band service for emergency service providers.

The proposed tower is under consideration, but faces opposition from some area residents.


Public demands LILCO provide power station

Thirty years ago, Island residents asked the Long Island Lighting Company to install electric cables that would run from a substation in East Hampton through Sag Harbor and North Haven, underwater to Shelter Island and along Route 114 to St. Mary’s Road and then back onto Route 114 to West Neck Road where the cable would cross from Crescent Beach to Conkling Point in Southold.

The 17-mile cable would provide power from the South Fork to the North Fork and vice versa in case of an outage on either side. An earlier version had suggested overhead wiring on land portions. That rankled Islanders and those in New Haven who adopted restrictions barring overhead lines of such powerful cables. The new plan to bury the cables met with approval from residents.

Construction was to begin the following October.

POSTSCRIPT: Today there is one cable from the South Fork providing some power to Shelter Island, but cannot completely light the Island. A second aged cable runs from the North Fork.

A second plan by the Long Island Power Authority to replace two damaged cable between Shelter Island and Southold failed in 2013.

But a new plan is anticipated by PSEG to get under way in September, with cables expected to run from Shelter Island Heights to Greenport. Work is due to get start in mid-September and be completed by mid May, 2018.


Campbell replaces Siller on BOE

When Gerry Siller in 1997 opted to run for town supervisor, he stepped down from the Board of Education, leaving his seat unoccupied.

Board of Education members interviewed three applicants who sought the job and chose Scott Campbell for an appointment that would last through June 1999.

Mr. Siller won his bid to become town supervisor by a wide margin, pulling in 61 percent of the votes to 39 percent for his opponent, Hal McGee.

POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Scott continues to serve the community as a member of the town’s Deer & Tick Committee.


Party music panned by board

It was the end of August 2007 when a last minute application to hold a birthday party on Crescent Beach appeared and Town Board members wrestled with the lateness of the application and plans for a private party with loud music and jet skis and a boat shuttling people to the beach.

A vendor hired to work the party told the board that the party was for an unnamed “powerful woman” and said an intern charged with making arrangements had failed to file the necessary application sooner.

The application was rejected, but the party went forward with markedly fewer attendees than had been anticipated and relative little disturbance to others using the beach.

POSTSCRIPT: This year, the Town Board discussed a registration process for vendors setting up their businesses on the beach and considering adding in other town sites such as those used for a kayak business at town landings.

Currently, there are a few vendors at Crescent Beach — a paddle boat operator, a massage business and boats shuttling people to the beach. There’s also a kayak rental operation using a couple of town landings.

The board has been less concerned with fees for such operations as it has with questions of insurance and possible disturbance to people using the public beach by any of the vendors.

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