Shelter Island Reporter editorials


Asking the questions
If you were paying attention three years ago — or even further back — you would’ve heard impassioned discussions on a weekly basis coming from Town Hall about how Shelter Island was on a doomed flight path toward “Hampton-ization.”

Fueling the journey were bloated houses springing up, a cause for concern that had been debated for years with seemingly no resolution.

Specifically, in 2015, it was about a place on Charlie’s Lane that a buyer was tearing down and replacing with an 8,297-square-foot house. Councilman Paul Shepherd, in the middle of the debate then, asked if his colleagues were serious about actually doing something. “Are we trying to keep things the same?” Mr. Shepherd asked. “Are we trying to manage the maximums? What is it we’re really trying to accomplish?”

The question is still unanswered.

At the November 30 regular Town Board meeting, and at the December 4 work session, members addressed a proposal by an owner to place a 75- by 22-foot swimming pool on a 3-acre site that has a nine-bedroom house and multiple bathrooms.

Yet again, members expressed distress. What is too big? Councilmen Albert Dickson and Jim Colligan want restrictions, but Mr. Shepherd said hold on, not so fast. Bring down the hammer too quickly, he pointed out, on what some members consider an overreach by an owner, and individual rights could be collateral damage.

Mr. Dickson, in his tenure on the board, has shown that he keeps his counsel and never expresses himself until he’s sure of what he wants to say. He seems determined to act on the issue of massive houses and huge pools, telling his colleagues that the issue “needs to be seriously addressed,” adding: “Are we going to do things that are hard?”

The question is one that either inspires elected officials, or, in most cases, haunts them. Mr. Dickson has challenged his colleagues to accept the former option.

COURTESY PHOTO Nichole Hand, left, and Coach Cindy Belt were honored on December 3 by the Suffolk County Volleyball Coaches Association.

Speaking of inspiration, Cindy Belt has been devoted to lighting and tending fires within young people. She’s the education and outreach coordinator at Mashomack, guiding a generation of youngsters toward an understanding and appreciation of the land and wildlife in the 2,039 acres of woods, fields, creeks and marshes protected by the Nature Conservancy.

And, as Shelter Island School volleyball coach, Cindy has a spectacular record, with multiple county championships and undefeated seasons, as well as being named coach of the year by her colleagues in the profession. Her most recent honor was bestowed December 3 by the Suffolk County Volleyball Coaches Association.

Congratulations, Cindy, and we’ll leave it to you to describe your life’s work: “I am humbled and appreciative that my fellow coaches noticed the often under-the-radar effort of empowering girls to believe in themselves and become self-confident young women.”