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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


The RMS Queen Mary arrived in Southampton, England on its last transatlantic crossing.

The Soviet Union, under pressure from North Vietnam to help with its struggle for national liberation, signed an agreement with Hanoi to send more aid.

American country singer Faith Hill was born in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

“The Flying Nun” starring Sally Field debuted on ABC.

Music aficionados in the United States were listening to “The Letter” by the The Box Tops.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Islanders applaud Greenport traffic light

To the delight of Shelter Islanders leaving North Ferry, Greenport finally got a traffic light installed at the intersection of Front and Third streets in the village.

The corner had been a nightmare for those leaving North Ferry and trying to negotiate what has always been a busy corner in the village.

It took the state traffic commission three years to study the idea and it was finally recommended in 1966, but it took another year to get it installed.

POSTSCRIPT: In the future, Islanders may find that corner congested again as the Greenport Planning Board has approved an application for a hotel and restaurant on the southeast corner where traffic exiting from that lot could create a nightmare for those drivers leaving the ferry and trying to either go straight north on Third Street or turn onto Front Street in either the east or west directions.


Grant would let schools learn from one another

As school got under way in the fall of 1987, Superintendent Marlene Berman got the endorsement from the Board of Education for an application she filed for a grant that would enable visits between teams of parents, teachers and board members to similar school districts.

The aim was for teams from various districts to learn from one another about practices that are improving education. Shelter Island would likely pair with Fire Island, but might also get funding that would allow visits to out-of-state districts, perhaps in Michigan, Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

POSTSCRIPT: In the past few years, there have been exchanges of students between Shelter Island and Longwood, a much larger district, so students from both districts would get a sense of the differences each school offers. Shelter Island students returned to say they appreciated their school here where they all know one another and the staff knows all of them.


Agreement reached on Mashomack Preserve

The Nature Conservancy and Shelter Island Town Board reached an agreement to guarantee the preservation of 2,039 acres of land at Mashomack in perpetuity.

Hoot Sherman was town supervisor at the time and he pushed to ensure that the land would be protected from inappropriate development. Mashomack was to be the first of such lands that would be protected under a new law and lay the groundwork for future land preservation on the Island.

With the historic signing, Mr. Sherman said that while he was sure The Nature Conservancy would have always protected the land, there were some underlying concerns that the legislation would address.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s hard to imagine that what is today considered one of the jewels of Shelter Island ever might have been threatened by development, but thanks to a forward-thinking Town Board, Islanders and visitors can continue to enjoy the unique beauty of Mashomack Preserve and the many nature-related programs professionals and volunteers are able to offer at the site.


Use it or lose it

The debate 10 years ago was over whether to use a state grant that would pay half the cost of a vacuum truck that Highway Superintendent Mark Ketcham said was needed to clean road drains or pass on the grant because of lack of money to pay the town’s share.

The Town Board had only a couple of months to move on the grant or lose the money. Passing on it once a grant is awarded would give the town a “black eye,” Mr. Ketcham said. It would hurt the town in future efforts to win grants, he said.

The previous year, the town had leased a JetVac truck and cleaned 144 catch basins, but that was only a fraction of what needed to be done, Mr. Ketcham said.

POSTSCRIPT: In the past year, the town has faced similar decisions and twice, the Town Board has outvoted Supervisor Jim Dougherty, opting to borrow money to pay the town’s share of projects, rather than pass on grant money.

The argument was the same Mr. Ketcham raised — passing on awarded grants would hinder the town’s ability to access future grants.