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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Singer-songwriter Lisa Marie Presley was born to Priscilla and Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee.

Vince Lombardi resigned as coach of the Green Bay Packers but would go on to coach the Washington Redskins for three years.

New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad merged forming Penn Central Transportation.

Comedian Pauly Shore was born in California to Mitzi Shore, who founded The Comedy Store in West Hollywood, California and comedian Sammy Shore.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Cleaning house of outdated laws

Fifty years ago, the Reporter called on the Town Board to examine laws to determine which remained relevant and which should be swept from its code.

The impetus came from Hempstead where it was discovered that a Victory Garden protection ordinance from World War II remained on the books in that town. Victory gardens were protected during the war so that people could grow their own fruits and vegetables that were scarce .

But by 1968, the need had ended.

On Shelter Island, a law prohibited putting a match to anything except a trash burner behind one’s house and that had to be done only during daytime hours.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, burning is generally prohibited by New York State for reasons of safety and the environment. But the issue facing the Town Board now is whether to revisit the comprehensive plan. Some have expressed interest in bringing it up to date, while Councilman Paul Shepherd believes the largely ignored plan should continue to sit on the shelf and continue to be ignored.

“I did the best I could to stab that thing in the throat when it came around the first time,” Mr. Shepherd said at a recent Town Board meeting. “I don’t know if the people of Shelter Island want their lives planned.”


Dollars and sense of recycling explored

Thirty years ago the town was gearing up to convert its landfill operation to a recycling center as required by state law. Although two years remained before the change would have to occur, there was much work to be done to cap the old landfill and prepare for the new era.

But what Islanders were striving to learn then was not just the sense of the conversion in terms of protecting the environment, but the financial advantages of operating a recycling center where money could be made by recycling and selling most of what was being brought for disposal by individuals and business operators.

A meeting with East Hampton officials who had just completed a 10-week pilot project taught Islanders that metal, glass, paper and other materials could become a source of making money. Representatives of a company from Old Lyme, Connecticut, Resource Recovery Systems, were on hand to share the methods and money making possibilities.

At the same time, the professionals failed to see the future on the East End when they declared that the municipalities here couldn’t independently create a money making operation, but would need a regional recycling center.

POSTSCRIPT: Shelter Island has continued to increase revenues from recycling.


Cablevision rate freeze for Islanders thaws

When Cablevision announced a rate hike in neighboring municipalities, in December 1997, it came with word that no hike would go into effect on Shelter Island. But by February 1998, local subscribers learned that by the following month, they would, indeed, face a rate hike.

Nonetheless, Cablevision said Islanders would pay less than customers in the other East End towns. Assemblywoman Pat Acampora rallied officials of all five East End towns and state and federal officials representing the area to fight rate increases she said were enabling the company to expand its holdings on the backs of ratepayers.

POSTSCRIPT: Cablevision today has competition in some areas, but on Shelter Island, satellite service isn’t an option, continuing the company’s monopoly here.


Gearing up for deer study

It was at this time 10 years ago that Islanders were gearing up to participate in the Cornell University pilot program to study the effectiveness of 4-poster use in curbing the spread of tick-borne diseases.

Many residents contributed money to the effort to place 4-poster units around the Island and to maintain them with the hope that they would prove to be a major component in reducing tick infestations and the diseases they spread.

POSTSCRIPT: The units remain a major component of the Island’s effort to reduce ticks, but many have soured on their effectiveness, forcing the town to apply for grants and put tax money to use to maintain them.

Most agree that the units must continue to be used, at least until the number of deer on the Island can be sharply reduced. Maintaining the units is costly in terms of purchasing corn to attract the deer and permethrin, the tickicide rubbed on deer necks while they feed, to kill ticks. But to date, the Island has yet to cull the herd to the low levels necessary to have a sufficient impact on reducing tick-borne diseases.

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