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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


Without loopholes
To the Editor:
Thank you Kathleen DeRose and Bob Fredericks for your letter to the Reporter on the lack of law enforcement that affects us all on Shelter Island (“Enforce the Law,” September 20).

Based on a two-month exchange with the town, we, too, are in agreement regarding the issue and feel something needs to change. We have a specific instance in the Heights in which the town acknowledged that there was a violation at a nearby home yet they failed to provide adequate enforcement based on the current laws. While we are thankful for Town Attorney Bob DeStefano’s time and discussions with us, the town also acknowledged there are loopholes and has yet to provide a road map for closing them.

To have the expectation that laws should be written without loopholes and should be enforced is not unrealistic or asking for a lot. Our elected officials should be able to accomplish this.
Shelter Island

Not a lark
To the Editor:
Re: The proposed acquisition of property at Fresh Pond. I’ve read the arguments against it and feel that such negativity needs a response.

The Town Board’s consideration of it was never intended to be some sort of remonstrance of the Community Preservation Fund committee’s work, or in its advised rejection of it. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is an exception proving the rule, not overturning it.

This is a singular situation, with very particular attributes, which, while as evidenced by the protests, are in stark contrast to the usual candidates for acquisition, are also sufficient to persuade me that it is worthy of serious consideration.

For starters, it would augment the current landing area to provide a place for people to readily access the pond, to sit and enjoy it the way the other property owners along it do, without interfering with boats being launched or bothering or being bothered by the neighbor.

Parking would be improved and a significant buffer area will keep us well away from the next nearest neighbor. Nobody wants to reintroduce the problem we have been facing for the last 10 or more years.

As for the much ballyhooed cost consideration, even taking the entire thing out of the CPF fund, there would remain over 90 percent, or some $8 million of currently available cash, and 100 percent, or $15 million of currently available credit. Less than a tithe, to give people something they can actually use and enjoy again.

The point is that this acquisition in no way harms the fund’s ability to function. There would still be plenty of cash for operations, like small acquisitions and service of debt. Larger deals would be funded through partnering and borrowing, as always.

In closing, I will simply say that this is no lark, no raiding of the “honey pot,” but a serious endeavor to add value to the town’s holdings on Fresh Pond; to further express our commitment to its quality; and the quality of life and experience there for all the citizens who wish to avail themselves of its 14 acres and tens of millions of gallons of water.

I think that rather than running counter to, this is instead precisely a part of what the CPF is meant to do. That Fred Thiele, the godfather of the enabling legislation for the CPF, felt positive about it only furthers my confidence in its legitimacy, both in principle and in practice.
Councilman, Town of Shelter Island

Batting in the dark
To the Editor:
I have been asked to clarify the confusion regarding existing public access to Fresh Pond.

There is plenty for all of us to enjoy, thanks to the generosity of Suffolk County and some wonderful Shelter Islanders. In addition to the town Landing on Lake Drive, we have one acre of Fresh Pond waterfront across the way on the western shore with a right-of-way access, thanks to the generosity of the late Neil Dickerson and of Suffolk County. (Shelter Island only had to use $250,000 of 2 percent funds for the purchase of this waterfront acre.) And on South Midway Road the town owns six acres of beautiful Fresh Pond waterfront with sufficient upland for easy public access if desired, thanks to the generosity of the Sposatos, Suffolk County and some generous neighbors, including John Needham and Laura Tuthill.

In my 19 years of involvement in Shelter Island’s highly successful open space program — nine years as chairman of the 2 percent committee and 10 years as supervisor — we enjoyed the highest respect of the Suffolk County open space staff, resulting in record amounts of matching funds, on an absolute basis and on a per capita basis compared to the four other East End towns in the 2 percent open space program, to help us successfully pay for and acquire countless open space properties otherwise beyond our reach (e.g. Sylvester Manor, Klenawicus airport, Barney Ryan’s horse farm among many others).

I have been hearing from some of my county and East End open space cohorts, expressing alarm at the possibility that the Shelter Island Town Board may for the first time in 20 years override a recommendation (unanimous) of the 2 percent committee, and for the dubious purpose of not acquiring open space, but buying at full price (with no required independent appraisal in hand yet, to my knowledge) a developed half acre with a house and a garage.

Let’s wait until all of us have a chance to review the detailed Fresh Pond Restoration Plan after it is issued and, if it makes sense under the Plan, use the Capital Budget for any – unprecedented up to now – purchases of houses on Fresh Pond. At this point, we are batting in the dark and Shelter Island’s credibility in the open space field is being questioned.
Shelter Island

Gift horse
To the Editor:
Last week’s editorial was half right (“Preserve Island preservation funds”). I agree that the town should buy my property on Fresh Pond as a “bargain sale.” But there is no reason why Community Preservation Fund (CPF) money cannot be used.

CPF funds were developed so towns could take advantages of unique opportunities such as this. CPF regulations encourage restoration of properties and public access to open space.

The Reporter and the Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board (CPFAB) have a myopic view that CPF funding is exclusively for buying open space for aquifer recharge. The rain really doesn’t care who owns the property that it falls on. It will always find its way into the aquifer.

The Reporter suggests that the CPFAB must be the de facto ultimate authority, simply because that is the way that has always been (improperly) treated. Legally, only the Town Board can decide on how CPF funds are spent. The Reporter’s rationality is that we must not break with tradition, even if it is to the detriment of Shelter Island. The Town Board’s decision must be based on facts, not nonsense, egos or habit.

The majority of the Town Board seems willing to spend CPF funds only for a discounted assessed value of the land. A group of taxpayers are promising to fund the remainder. Now some board members want these taxpayers to pick up the cost of any additional incidental expense too. Are they looking a gift horse in the mouth?

CPFAB Chairman Gooding and Councilman Dickson have an unfounded fear of litigation. What are they so worried about? The town owns the 15 acres of land under Fresh Pond. The toxic phosphorus pollution is in and on this land. An argument could be made that the town has been negligent, for many decades, for not taking actions to control and mitigate this contamination.

The property owners and others on Fresh Pond could have a winning lawsuit. Instead, they decided to be proactive, contributing their time, money and effort to restore the pond to a healthy state for all. As much as our town board might dread lawsuits, they should appreciate these citizens who formed the Fresh Pond Neighbors Association.

Rather than demanding that they pay all cost above the basic value of the land, the Town Board should consider CPF funding for this entire acquisition, as it is intended for.
Shelter Island

A small, precious spot
To the Editor:
A small pocket park on Fresh Pond! A spot of green to sit on and a place for a few cars to enter and leave safely, no boats left overnight, no lights, no buildings, natural plantings to screen away the neighbors.

Will there be the unforeseen problems? Most likely. Will it break with tradition? Yes. Is money really the issue here?

In this crowded world closing in on all sides, we need more special places to be with nature and in this case nothing is being taken away from anyone. A small, precious spot is being given to those of us who find  peace and beauty in looking out over a special bit of nature.

So would all the people who grew up with Fresh Pond, who swung from the rope on the hill, who swam out to the Dunhill float, who saw the frogs’ eggs and the sunfish and the snapping turtle, who brought their children to wash off the salt after a day at the beach, please let our Town Board and the Community Preservation Advisory Board know how you feel?
Jean Lawless
Shelter Island

Reviewing the Reporter
To the Editor:
As for last week’s Reporter: Thank you for the wonderful editorial last week.

I don’t know why the town fathers don’t simply deduct the replacement cost of the house on the Fresh Pond property from the purchase/listing price and deduct that number from the price of the property, then the Fresh Pond Property Neighbor’s Association can divide that number by the 18 or so pond-front owners and chip in and buy this property, then donate it to the town. It seems there could be a hidden tax write off there somehow.

As for the editorial cartoon: At long last one I could identify with, only I am a Wally World shopper.
I don’t quite understand that cable business mumbo-jumbo, but in the process of checking it out, so far they do not recognize my address, so it will have to be a snail mail application for me. This is going to be quite interesting.

Peter Reich’s letter (“No to a 9/11 holiday”) and Richard Lomuscio’s column (“Remembering (9/11”) reflect one another. September 11 is very personal for most people, especially New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents. I sit at my kitchen table until our lost one’s names are read, and then turn off the TV and I’m a zombie for the rest of the day.

Now, there’s a party house in the Heights. Horrors! Someone wasn’t invited, I guess. So sorry. How many short-term rental (STR) complaints are there for the summer of 2018? Airbnb is fantastic. They vet everyone, and those that use this site spend lots of money on our Fantasy Island. The STR legislation is so absurd, those that wrote it should un-write it and stop with all the chitchat. There were so many STRs this summer, and no problems that I could see or hear.
Shelter Island

To the Editor:
Eben W. Case had the same explanation as Tom Speeches in his letter to the editor about the derivation of “harelegger (“Good enough for him,” August 30). He said many times he had to run fast as a Texas jackrabbit to catch the last ferry when going to the movie in Greenport — thus harelegger.

To the Editor:
Several weeks ago I had a severe nosebleed that wouldn’t stop. My husband insisted we go to the emergency room in Greenport. When we arrived at the North Ferry there was a long line so he drove up to the gate and told the operator.

He said he would get us on the next ferry, which was pulling in. He told the captain about my problem and he came to the car with an ice pack for the back of my neck. He was a calming presence for us. And to top it all off they gave us a free pass on the ferry.

I want to thank everyone who reached out to us. It is very reassuring to know there is help when an emergency arises. Though we are on an island, we are surrounded by caring, efficient people who help us through a difficult time.

We are grateful and we sing the praises of the North Ferry. Help is only a stone’s throw away.
Shelter Island