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This week in Shelter Island history

50 YEARS AGO IN HISTORY

“Midnight Cowboy,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, was released to theaters and would capture the Best Picture Academy Award the following spring.

The Beatles released their “Get Back” single, which quickly rose to number one where it stayed for five successive weeks.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their second “bed-in” for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

“If”  won the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film at the 22nd Annual Cannes Film Festival.

The BBC ordered 13 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

And on Shelter Island . . .

50 YEARS AGO

Court move moves Griffing

Supervisor Evans K. Griffing reluctantly agreed to seek another term. He had  announced he would not run for re-election, but a court ruling found that instead of party caucuses choosing their candidates by September, a primary would have to be held, and no one in the Republican Party on the Island was stepping up to fill Mr. Griffing’s shoes.

He said  he really wanted out, but felt an obligation to agree to seek another term after Louis Price declined to run.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, parties choose their slates by May opening up the process to the possibility of a primary.

30 YEARS AGO

Heights residents air complaints about fees

Residents expressed concerns to members of the Board of the Heights Property Owners Corporation (HPOC) about rising costs for services the organization renders to residents of that part of the Island.

William Koch stated: “Our purpose is to do some thinking and brainstorming,” he said. He explained that costs have been rising steadily and the board was sensitive to residents’ concerns of increases that were slated to go up for business operators and residents between 51 and 80 percent that year alone.

HPOC Board Chairman Louis Bevilacqua said much of the increase was the result of operating the new sewage treatment plant, plus higher than expected interest charges from the inability to sell property intended to reduce borrowing for the plant.

There had been earlier complaints about construction of the plant because the Heights wasn’t included in the town’s wastewater district and, therefore, couldn’t qualify for federal assistance in building the structure.

There was  talk at the time of selling the ferry service to the town to raise money. But Mr. Bevilacqua said the ferry operated at a profit and its sale wouldn’t help the situation.

A study group was organized to look at the situation to see if there was any means to offset the large fee hike.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, HPOC continues to operate as a private corporation. Its books are generally closed except for information required by the Suffolk County Legislature when there’s a request for ferry rate hikes.

20 YEARS AGO

Public has two weeks to evaluate zoning code

Following adoption of a Comprehensive Plan, the Town Board put forward a 66-page proposal to update the zoning code. The code was intended to incorporate changes that had been included in the Comprehensive Plan five years earlier. A series of public hearings was scheduled to discuss the code on a single day in early June.

Considered the most important part of the proposed code was to establish zoning boundaries that would be sensitive to environmental factors with four overlay districts. In addition, the code sought to govern development in undeveloped coastal barrier zones to mirror federal constraints already in use in the town. Two other parts were meant to establish residential and industrial areas that would guide future development of the Island.

There would be no immediate passage following the day of hearings with many issues to be resolved.

POSTSCRIPT: Through the years, there have been complaints about the zoning code exceptions despite the fact that the Zoning Board of Appeals exists for just that reason.

Today there is discussion among those seeking establishment of affordable housing to revisit the Comprehensive Plan with an eye to trying to open up some areas where it was previously banned. Whether that would lead to zoning changes remains to be seen.

10 YEARS AGO

Waning Legion Hall could be place to be again

Membership in the American Legion had waned to the point where what had been the heart of the community was practically empty.

The only spurt of activity came in the wake of September 11, 2001.

But in 2009, Gulf War veteran Mike Loriz led the effort to revive the American Legion Post with a stepped up membership drive and plans for renovations.

POSTSCRIPT: The town purchased the Legion Post in 2008. Today it is both a home for the veterans, a site for the town’s Youth Center, a bowling center and  hosts various community events offered by the veterans and other groups.

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