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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


American actress Debra Messing, known for her role on Will & Grace on NBC Television, was born in Brooklyn.

Frank Sinatra divorced third wife Mia Farrow after two years of marriage.

Movie tickets were selling for $1.50 and gasoline averaged 34 cents a gallon.

Warsaw Pact Soviet led troops invaded Czechoslovakia.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Town acts toward Goat Hill purchase

Forty years ago at this time the Town Board authorized Supervisor Leonard Bliss to sign a contract that would be subject to a mandatory referendum for the purchase of the Shelter Island Country Club. The clubhouse and 43-acre site were owned by the Heights Property Owners Corporation and operated by George Blados under a lease agreement.

The asking price was $250,000 with the proviso that it be retained as open space. The alternative would be to sell it for a subdivision development.

Voters by a two to one margin approved the purchase, but a second referendum was to be held on whether or not to take federal and state financing toward the purchase as some residents feared that such financing could include conditions for the property’s use they might not like.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s agreement with the Shelter Island Country Club has the town responsible for maintenance of the clubhouse while the country club has responsibility for the golf course and grounds.


Simes investigates bringing in state police

Former Supervisor Jeffrey Simes and his Town Board held executive sessions at this time in 1988 to discuss disbanding the Shelter Island Police Department and bringing in state police. It was reported at the time that Mr. Simes had written a letter to the state asking what would be involved in the transition.

Perhaps the interest at the time stemmed from a recently concluded contract negotiation with the Police Benevolent Association that provided a 34 percent increase in pay over a three year period.

That arrangement had been reached with the help of a mediator. Three members of that Town Board had participated in the negotiation and had approved the contract, although the full Town Board had yet to vote on the contract.

POSTSCRIPT: The Shelter Island Police Department remains intact today with no talk about dissolving it. Local police call on Suffolk County Police for some serious matters as they have in the ongoing investigation of the death of  Reverend Cannon Paul Wancura.


Town Board mulls deer-proof fences

It was 20 years ago that the Town Board explored ways to deal with the burgeoning deer herd. While some Islanders were feeding the deer, others were taking steps to keep the animals from chewing up their gardens, causing traffic accidents and, most alarming, providing a host for ticks that were spreading disease.

Some Islanders were erecting 8 to 10 foot fences on their property, but the fences were illegal. Town code limited them to 6 feet on side yard lines and 4 feet on front yard lines. There are exceptions, but they don’t apply to deer fencing.

POSTSCRIPT: In today’s Shelter Island, despite the best efforts to significantly cull the deer herd, it remains a struggle and the ban on high fences remains in place.


Olympic dream becomes reality

Ten years ago Islanders learned that sailor, Amanda Clark would be on the American Olympic Team in Perth, Australia. It would be the first of two outings for Ms. Clark, who also competed in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Residents enthusiastically followed her progress both years and still revere her sailing accomplishments.

POSTSCRIPT: This year, Ms. Clark is helping to train Olympic sailing hopefuls Nora and Atlantic Brugman who have their eyes set on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Both would-be Olympians have been instructors at the Shelter Island Yacht Club.

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