To the Editor:
I would like to make three points on the issue of short-term rentals (STR). First, earlier this summer, the Town Board presented a “clarification of language” on the STR law passed last year by a vote of four to one.
This clarification indicated, among other things, penalties for those who did not abide by the law. The audience for this reading and hearing was huge with the great majority for the law passed last year and its enforcement. The problem then, and now, was that there is no enforcement of the law on the books.
Arthur Bloom, who works five to seven hours a week, is indicated as the clerk in charge of keeping track of STRs, but he is not, according to Town Attorney Robert DeStefano Jr., responsible for enforcement. A law without enforcement is futile.
Second, Town Supervisor Gary Gerth has been quoted (in the New York Post and elsewhere) as stating he wishes to remove all restrictions on STR’s and will propose that in the fall. Again, the great majority of people who attended the last meeting on the “clarification” of the rules want and demand enforcement of the law and penalties on the books.
It is not surprising that only 12 to 18 owners actually registered this year as renters. They know there is no enforcement of the law.
Third, and finally, it is Supervisor Gerth who declared publicly that allowing owners to rent was a “moral issue” implying that those who sought to restrict renters from breaking the law were themselves immoral persons. What is moral about a new supervisor, as soon as he is elected, appointing his campaign manager as the new town attorney — Bob DeStefano, Jr. — who was also the leader of the Republican Party on Shelter Island?
The people of Shelter Island should demand that laws on the books be enforced and they should let Mr. Gerth and Mr. DeStefano know that they do not want the current laws abolished.
BOB FREDERICKS, Shelter Island
To the Editor:
In June 2015, the Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce successfully filed a Suffolk County Downtown Revitalization Grant, on behalf of the Town of Shelter Island, to assist funding the installation of a public restroom facility on Bridge Street. The Chamber’s financial contribution to the project was $35,000.
After three long and tedious years of various applications, negotiations and meetings with representatives and committees at the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, the town recently received approval to commence construction of the restroom facility.
On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, I wish to extend our gratitude to the Town Board for taking on the project, committing public funds and “sticking it out.”
But the true unsung town agents for shepherding this project to its final approval for installation are our Commissioner of Public Works, Jay Card Jr. and Town Engineer John Cronin. Both of these public servants toiled endlessly to see this through, long after the general public’s interest in the project started to wane and lose confidence.
Jay and John are an extraordinary team. Fortunately for this community, they join forces on many projects impacting the town’s infrastructure and growing needs. I think that it may be said that we are in good hands with these two dedicated and determined gentlemen overseeing the maintenance and care of important assets of the town.
ARTHUR R. WILLIAMS, President, Shelter Island Chamber of Commerce
Must be forbidden
To the Editor:
A proposal has been submitted to the town which envisions the Ram’s Head Inn be sold to Easton Porter, a large party planner in the deep South, who intends to transform the property to hold large public gatherings for weddings and other similar festivities and celebrations. The size of the gatherings will be as many as 300 guests and these would potentially occur weekly over nine months of the year — spring, summer and fall.
The proposed renovation of the Ram’s Head Inn contemplates a large increase in overnight accommodations, a much larger restaurant, a large swimming pool, a substantial spa facility and a greatly expanded parking area — more traffic, more noise with little benefit to our Shelter Island.
The party guests will come and go without participating in our community. They will use our public services and social infrastructure and provide very little in return.
Here is information from Easton Porter to understand who these people are: eastonporter.com/collections/easton-events/ and eastonevents.com/portfolio.
The company states:“Our business development objective:
“While remaining intentionally boutique scale, Easton Porter Group is aggressively building on our success. Our goal is to expand our collection to fifteen luxury properties in high-end destinations over the next 10 years. We have an established track record in Charleston, South Carolina; Charlottesville, Virginia; and the Virginia hunt country outside of Washington, D.C. and are seeking growth opportunities in similarly premier destinations in North America and Europe. We welcome investor inquiries, as well as owners interesting in selling hotels or wineries.”
This would be a substantial and virtually unprecedented dismissal of the thoughtful and stringent building codes that for decades have secured the peaceful and lovely life style on Shelter Island.
The Ram’s Head Inn is currently in keeping with other public gathering and entertainment facilities on Shelter Island. It should be kept as it is and not permitted to be increased.
Uncontrolled commercial over-usage of our lovely, quiet Island must be forbidden.
TOM ROUSH, Shelter Island
To the Editor:
I was pleased to read that the poorly considered conversion of 40 North Ferry Road to create additional office space for town offices has been put on hold (“Turnaround on house buy,” July 26).
On the other hand the purchase is still pending.
As previously stated by the Town Board, the town did not have the money to complete the purchase. So why is the board working on a draft contract for purchase? It should become clear to all taxpayers that this is a major boondoggle in the making.
The $710,000-plus purchase cost and additional, but unknown, renovation and financing costs could easily bring the total up to $900,000 to $1 million. Why wasn’t this huge expenditure brought before the town for discussion?
Furthermore, the supervisor, during his election campaign, made bold statements about tackling affordable housing yet this proposal, would, in effect, eliminate existing housing. In addition it should be noted that the administration has yet to deliver its first annual town budget, which usually reveals the overall financial condition of the town as well as future tax implications.
Before moving forward on this purchase, it is incumbent upon the board to provide the data necessary to justify the need for additional office space. The need for additional parking space is obvious, but what is the solution to parking and for how many vehicles?
SAM LEBOWITZ, Shelter Island
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Town of Shelter Island, I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who helped make the third annual summer blood drive at the EMS Building on July 26 a huge success.
Our goal was to collect 50 pints. Because of your generosity, 82 pints were collected at this drive, 19 more than last year — a Shelter Island record! One pint of blood can help to save three to five lives. You helped between 246 and 410 patients.
Whether you came in with family members to show your support, or just stopped because you saw our signs along the roadway, your time and donations are greatly appreciated.
Thank you to Jack Thilberg, Director of EMS Services for allowing the drive to take place in the EMS Building once again. It was a great location. Donors and staff were very comfortable.
Thank you to the Shelter Island Reporter, Shelter Island Fire Department, South Ferry Company and Sylvester Manor for getting the word out.
A special thank you to Giovanna Ketcham for cleaning up the day after. Please remember that blood donors are continually needed to ensure that blood is available year round. Hope to see you next summer!
JUDY MERINGER, Shelter Island
It takes an Island
To the Editor:
Last Saturday saw the Rest of The World beat the Shelter Island Cricket Club in the 7th Annual SICC Charity Cricket match, raising over $10,000 (and counting) for the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation thanks to the many people who donated their time, resources and money to this worthy cause.
The sweltering heat was offset by the shade provided by the tents donated by Shelter Island Party Rental, by the excellent food and refreshments provided by SALT and some of the older players being relieved by a new wave of youthful cricketers led by William Bateman and Finlay Allonby. Children not on the pitch took part in games and races organized by Orla Shillingford and Lise Arnold.
Spectators were once again treated to commentary by Mr. Andrew Phillips thanks to Russell Smith’s PA system, although some players may have wished for fewer comments about their cricketing skills!
The field was again provided and prepared by The Island Boatyard with help from The Shelter Island Highway Department and younger members of the Bateman and Shillingford families.
A touch of class was once again added as SICC merchandise designed by John Yang and sold by Frankie Yang and her friends helped in the fundraising.
A big thank you to the spectators and players who braved the heat and, last but not least, the Shelter Island EMS team for helping with the set-up, helping on the day, treating an injured player, and, most important, for standing by to save lives 365 days a year.
DAVID SHILLNGFOR & GARETH JONES, Shelter Island Cricket Club
To the Editor:
Thanks to the reporting by Jade Eckardt and Annabelle Woodward, the Art/Rich Poetry Roundtable is going strong. Each Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the Shelter Island Library, the most interesting minds on the Island confront and learn from poems by classical and contemporary poets.
Bliss Morehead said: “Seeing the word ‘poetry’ in the title of a Reporter article made me very happy.”
Yes, thanks from all of us!
VIRGINIA WALKER, Facilitator, Art/Rich Poetry Roundtable