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This week in Shelter Island history

Old book with a damaged cover. Book is open, visible texture sheets.


Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5  in the wake of his victory in  California’s Democratic presidential primary.

James Earl Ray, who assassinated Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., in April 1968, was captured at London’s Heathrow Airport.

It was a battle of Australians at the men’s final of the French Open Tennis Tournament as Ken Rosewall beat Rod Laver 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2.

American character actor and singer Dan Duryea died of cancer in Los Angeles at the age of 61.

And on Shelter Island . . .

Cablevision woes

An editorial in the Reporter 40 years ago noted that Cablevision reception on the Island was being interrupted. The company blamed the problem on roadwork being done on Route 114. If that was the problem, the editorial suggested overhead lines to restore service.

At the same time, the editorial stated that Cablevision service here was erratic and said the town’s contract with the company and fees paid by customers called for more reliable service than had been the case on the Island.

POSTSCRIPT: Forty years later, customers are still complaining about Cablevision service. Most recently there were concerns about phantom poles belonging to both Cablevision and Verizon that needed to be removed since new wiring had been strung on new poles set in place by PSEG. It took months before the two utility company were able to get to the job of removing those unused poles that some feared were leaning and could fall onto vehicles in the roadway.

At this time 30 years ago, those who opposed the Shoreham Nuclear Plant were celebrating a major win since they had brought about the closing of the operation. It was a grass roots campaign that won the day forcing the Long Island Lighting Company to bow to public pressure and forced the closing. But it took two decades to win the fight.

POSTSCRIPT: A close look at PSEG electric bills show that customers are still paying a fee for the plant that was once meant to cut energy costs.

Heights water system contaminated

It was 20 years ago that Heights Property Owners Corporation General Manager Bernard Jacobson warned residents not to drink the water in that area of town. The culprit was coliform bacteria in the St. John Street reservoir that was pumped out and believed to mix with water in hydrants that had been used to fight a fire on Prospect Avenue earlier in the week.

HPOC was having the water chlorinated to kill the bacteria and residents were being warned to boil any water meant for consumption.

POSTSCRIPT: Word came from Suffolk County Department of Health Services just before the Memorial Day weekend that the water at the building that houses the Senior Center and two medical offices is not potable and until results are available from new tests, no one is to drink the water there. The culprit is MTBE that results from gasoline runoff. Neighbors in the area have been advised to have their own water supplies tested.

Housing law divides community

It was a battle between critics of a proposed community housing law and those who favored a move toward providing affordable housing. On one side were those who charged the legislation would be for developers and would favor housing commission members who would have inside knowledge about where such housing might be located and those who argued that without legislation, the Island would suffer a brain drain, losing students who were educated here but can’t afford to live here.

Because the proposed law could enable such housing to skirt aspects of the town’s housing code, critics argued that the town failed to show enough need for affordables to justify weakening town zoning.

POSTSCRIPT: The town’s only affordable development, built in the mid 1990s, were six Bowditch Road houses. The effort to provide affordables today is re-energized by an enlarged Community Housing Board that is scouting possible sites and trying to determine how to finance apartments that would serve residents who want to stay on the Island but lack the resources, and workers who are employed here, but currently can’t afford to live here.

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