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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Civil rights leader and Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota won the Democratic primary in Wisconsin, but Hubert Humphrey would go on to claim the nomination and then be defeated by Republican Richard Nixon in the general election.

“2001: A Space Odyssey,” directed by Stanley Kubrick, premiered in Washington, D.C.

North Vietnam leaders agreed to meet United States representatives to setup preliminary peace talks.

The Academy Awards were postponed until April 10 because of the Martin Luther King murder.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Historical Society purchases Havens House

Havens House, which continues to serve as the center of what is becoming a Shelter Island Historical Society complex, was purchased 50 years ago from Mrs. Benjamin Sherman.

Built in 1743, the house was home to the Havens family for many generations. Among its best know residents was Jonathan Nicoll Havens who was a town clerk and Suffolk County’s first elected assemblyman. He was also a member of the 1788 State Convention for adoption of the United States Constitution.

The Historical Society was able to purchase Havens House entirely from contributions.

POSTSCRIPT: Construction on an addition to the Historical Society is underway and will provide space for archives, more display space and room for those researching Shelter Island’s history.


Debts and future costs lead to ferry hikes

At this time in 1988, both North and South ferry companies filed applications for fee hikes with the Suffolk County Legislature, charged with making decisions on such increases.

North Ferry officials said increases were needed to balance commuter tariffs against other fees and to cover added costs to run three boats during the spring and fall periods. South Ferry officials attributed the rate hike request to the need to purchase a new boat, noting the company doesn’t maintain a capital reserve fund.

POSTSCRIPT: Rumors have swirled in the past year about one or both companies applying for rate hikes this year. Heights Property Owners Corporation General Manager Stella Lagudis has indicated a hike could be related to the eventual purchase of a new boat, while South Ferry officials have been mum about their thinking.


Hoot Sherman chosen for Citizenship Award

Twenty years ago, former Shelter Island Supervisor Hoot Sherman was selected by the Lions Club as its Citizen of the Year. Although he expressed surprise at his selection, Islanders applauded the choice.

Mr. Sherman was elected three times as supervisor before opting to pass on seeking a fourth term. He  also served as general manager of North Ferry Company and the Heights Property Owners Corporation and spent two years as superintendent of the Greenport Village water and sewer department. He retired as a commander from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service and continued to serve on various committees on Shelter Island until this year, when he retired from the Community Housing Board.

POSTSCRIPT: This year’s Lions Club Citizens of the Year are Anu and John Kaasik. To anyone who saw this year’s school production of “Nice Work If You Can Get It” or any of the school productions the couple has produced and directed, it’s obvious why they were chosen, having given their minds, hearts and souls to this community for so many years.


Community housing law re-emerges

Ten years ago, Mary-Faith  Westervelt appeared before the Town Board with changes in proposed legislation that would enable creation of floating zones for affordable housing. The community had been split on the issue with some objecting to any zoning changes and others insisting there had to be changes to provide affordable rentals.

The proposed legislation would provide for licensing of rentals to create affordable options and creation of a floating zone should property become available for development of rental units. Ms. Westervelt argued her case, but it was clear that there would be many steps before legislation might be put on the books.

POSTSCRIPT: There was a lot of horse trading back then, including the eventual exclusion of community housing being created in the Near Shore Overlay district. Today, a reconstituted Community Housing Board is poised to push for more political will from the Town Board, perhaps by way of floating a bond if needed to create community housing.

The new Community Housing Board has had a single meeting to lay the groundwork for its strategy, so stay tuned to see what the future will be by a determined group who are optimistic they will find more cooperation from the Town Board this year.

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