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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Actress Ashley Judd, daughter of country singer Naomi Judd and sister of country singer Wynonna Judd, was born in Granada Hills, California.

The National Baseball League agreed to add two teams and by the following year had added the San Diego Padres and Montreal Expos, bringing to 12 the number of teams on its roster.

The 72nd Boston Marathon was held with Amby Barfoot of Connecticut winning the men’s race and Bobbi Gibbs of California winning for the women. She was the first woman to run a full marathon in 1966 and won that year and the following two years.

Pierre Trudeau was sworn in as Canadian Prime Minister, a post he would hold for 15 years and a post now held by his son Justin.

The winner of top Tony Awards went to “Rosencranz & Gilderstein Are Dead” for Best Play and “Hallelujah, Baby” for Best Musical.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Monsignor Griffin assigned to new position

With the new assignment of Monsignor James Griffin to assignments within the Diocese of Rockville Center, Reverend Power assumed the pulpit at Our Lady of the Isle Church 40 years ago.

Father Power became the 20th pastor at Our Lady of the Isle Church tying a family and geographical knot to St. Agnes Church in Greenport. Father Power had served at St. Agnes between 1968 and 1974 and his uncle, Monsignor Peter Quealy,  was pastor at St. Agnes in 1902 when he purchased the property at the tri-section of Spring Garden, Prospect and Wesley avenues to build Our Lady of the Isle Church and Rectory.

During construction, Shelter Island’s Catholics attended services at St. Agnes in the winter and in the summer months at Manhansett House in Dering Harbor or the Heights Fire Hall.

POSTSCRIPT: Today,Father Peter DeSanctis is at the pulpit at Our Lady of the Isle. He was associate pastor at Our Lady of the Isle before being tapped in July 2011 to assume the top spot.


Town faces complex affordable housing issue

Thirty years ago, the newly formed town housing committee began work to provide reasonably priced housing on Shelter Island with then member Joanne Sherman commenting, “I think it will be a big battle, but I don’t think it will be impossible.”

In appointing the committee, then supervisor Jeffrey Simes said other area towns had been working on the challenge and he thought it was time for Shelter Island to do the same. It would be the mid 1990s when six affordable houses on Bowditch Road would be constructed and become available to qualified candidates. The original owners of those properties still reside in them and most have been expanded.

There were certainly critics of the Bowditch houses that ultimately proved to be wrong, but in the years since, there has yet to be an answer to the need for more reasonably prices houses for sale or apartments for rentals.

POSTSCRIPT: The newly constituted Community Housing Board has had legislation on the books for several years aimed at improving opportunities for affordables, especially rentals. But the board has only now been enlarged from five to seven members, bringing new expertise to the effort and renewed optimism that the town may yet be able to get some housing efforts going, especially in terms of providing rentals for people who left the Island for college and would like to come back to live, but can’t afford to live here unless it’s to move back with parents.

The new Community Housing Board seems determined not to be easily beaten back by those who have protested past efforts with many of their objections growing out of what Chairwoman Mary-Faith Westervelt as dubbed “NIMBYism.”


Sale of Taylor’s Island explored

Twenty years ago, the Town Board was debating the possible sale of Taylor’s Island. The 2.5-acre site on the southern end of Coecles Harbor had been willed to the town by the late S. Gregory Taylor who wanted it open to the public.

But the Town Board had concerns about the deteriorated buildings on the site and the bulkheads and dock that were in need of repair. Access by land is still limited to times of low tides, although it can, of course, be reached by boat. Estimated costs of making the site usable raised doubts about the town’s ability to make use of the site.

POSTSCRIPT: It would take awhile, but a group spearheaded by P.A.T. Hunt finally took over the renovation of the cabin on the site and gradually brought it back to usable condition with many volunteers giving hours of their time and expertise to do work for little money.

More money came from grants and work is currently proceeding on bulkheads. But it’s thanks to Ms. Hunt and the crew of volunteers that the site is now open to the public.


4-poster pesticide opposition dismissed

Ten years ago, Islander Richard Kelly presented a petition bearing 100 names to the Deer & Tick Committee protesting the use of the tickicide, permethrin, on 4-poster units. The signers reserved the right to sue the town if its use was continued.

Patricia Shillingburg chaired the committee at the time and dismissed the petition saying, “The opposition may be loud but it’s not as universal as it may have been suggested.”

POSTSCRIPT: Similar concerns about the safety of permethrin continue to be raised, especially because after some 10 years of use, there are no studies to show whether there have been any long-term dangers in its use.

Money for such a study continues to be elusive, but certain information through the years has come from experts in the field who deny that the tickicide is seeping into the water supply.

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