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Reporter Letters to the Editor

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Above and beyond
To the Editor:
Correcting a Wrong:
I wanted to take this opportunity to salute and thank our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for their outstanding support throughout the year.

These men and women go above and beyond and demonstrate their amazing talents each and every time that they respond to an emergency call. The Shelter Island Police and Fire departments were recognized at our Memorial Day Ceremony and I neglected to mention our very dedicated EMS volunteers.

My apologies to the EMS staff for this oversight.
Jim Colligan
Councilman, Town of Shelter Island

Changing times
To the Editor:
I keep hearing that the Island is changing, and it is. We have now entered this wild age of technology, with which I have much difficulty since I don’t speak the language. (But I’m trying.) Fortunately there are many people who do. Many are our millennials and it’s wonderful to see them, in our school, in our government, and our Fire and Police departments and involved in many more Shelter Island traditions. It’s oft been said that history repeats itself, but I don’t know how it can in this day and age with all the technology at our fingertips. There are no more mistakes.

Then there is the other saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” From Memorial Day to Labor Day is tourist season on our island. The snow birds return, the vacationers arrive along with the second home owners, all ready to have a wonderful summer.

All of us have different life styles, and that has the tendency to change with age. I’m happy to stay home and sit on the deck and watch my neighbor’s osprey family and the deer and turkeys amble through. (But I am 83.)

When I’m not checking out the neighbor’s big bird family, I’m in my office trying to help people find housing and get them a rental for an upcoming wedding or event which is almost impossible.

Of course I am leading up to the Shelter Island rental law, which is an atrocity. Read repealthislaw.com. It affects my business and my personal life. Why does the town have to know all of my business and who I am renting to and their business as well? And then put this information in the town data base? Hello?

I’ve spoken to several “legal eagles” with several New York State agencies for their opinion, and my personal attorney regarding this law and how it affects our family. The consensus seems to be, to go back to the beginning. Who started this and why? Who drafted it in the first place when it seems there already were unwritten rules about occupancy, etc.?

Change is sometimes for the better, but this law is far from better. Get rid of it.
Georgiana Ketcham
Shelter Island

To the Editor:
To paraphrase the title of a book from the 1970s, military leadership is to leadership as military music is to music. It is strict, detailed, methodical and must be performed exactly as mandated.

I’m sure that Councilman Colligan was an excellent military officer. The short-term rental law (STR), which Mr. Colligan is one of the authors of, is written like a military regulation. It is excessively harsh. For example, the law defines the exact requirements and differences of “nuclear” and “immediate” families. Military officers constantly scrutinize and evaluate subordinates. His STR law requires the continual scrutiny of property owners, guest and tenants.

No matter the branch of service, subordinates never question, criticize or correct an officer. Such restrictions on personal liberties are part of the sacrifice that our troops make. The mission of our military is to protect our liberties and freedoms with lethal force if required. Such discipline is understandable.

But Colonel Colligan’s mission has changed. As Councilman Colligan, his mission now is to fully implement and maintain the liberties and freedoms that he and many others sacrificed to protect. His style of leadership must also change. The citizens on Shelter Island are not his subordinates. We do not live on a military base.

Mr. Colligan has asked the public to not make personal attacks at public meetings. Short of obscene language or threats of violence, the First Amendment allows “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In other words, we have the right, if not duty, as citizens to criticize any elected official at a public meeting or in letters such as this.

But just as Mr. Colligan refuses a constitutional right that he swore to uphold, he also does not seem to truly accept the ideal of living freely as an individual American with self-determination.

The Town Board, as a democratic government, must recognize that the majority of citizen taxpayers oppose this proposed law. Constituents, friends and family are not the entire population here.

Until martial law is declared, Mr. Colligan and the board must vacate this regressive, intrusive and authoritarian STR law that determines who can live in our homes, for what reason and when. Or we must change this Town Board next November.
Vincent Novak
New York, New York

Asking for support
To the Editor:
Support Shelter Islanders and their property rights. Support Shelter Island businesses and tourism here — our business owners need every visitor dollar spent on this beautiful island all summer long.

Visit repealthislaw.com. Sign the petition and protect your property rights: Change.org Support Shelter Island’s Short Term Rentals
Shelter Island needs a fresh start in November: Gerth, Kaasik, Romanchuk — Islanders who care!
Kathryn Klenawicus
Shelter Island

Great interest
To the Editor:
I read with great interest Councilman Shepherd’s letter (“The new paradigm,” June 6) where he dispelled the repeated fiction that regulation of short-term rentals was necessary because of noise. There was no evidence of undue noise, aside from some “stories” repeated by the usual incredible suspects. Instead, the regulations are “not about noise complaints or other disturbances.” Rather, the regulations reflect the myth that today’s preferred shorter rental means “we don’t get to know people who visit.” Is Mr. Shepherd proposing a NYC Coop interview process?

At a 2016 Town Board meeting, Mr. Colligan proclaimed that he wanted to know who is living behind him, in front of him, to the left of him, and to the right of him. If you ride a bicycle in front of his house, he said, he wanted to know your name. I have owned a home in Silver Beach for 25 years, where beach rentals have been the norm for 90 years, and that is not my experience. I didn’t know my Silver Beach neighbor Mr. Colligan, until he tried to strip my property rights.

More recently, Mr. Colligan explained that he thought the intent of the law is it becomes law and people obey the law. At a town meeting, we learned that the proposed mandated registration of all rentals is the town’s means to gather data.

The “clarification” of the proposed law stating it does not require registering nonpaying guests omits that the initial incarnation required nonpaying guests be counted towards our rental allotment. Then the proposal required guests to submit a verification they were not paying rent. Now, they are excluded. Good. But I can only wonder whether that was due to pressure from more connected people who often lend their waterfront compounds to business associates, or leave their household staff during the week.

Why has there been no discussion about the fact that the multitude of illegal long-term rentals will not be able to register as they have no Certificate of Occupancy. Will evictions soon be the norm and the landlords jail birds?

I commend the editor for disclosing the financial arrangement — however small — it has with Mr. Colligan. I had found the protectionist attitude towards Mr. Colligan, a public official, curious in terms of censoring letters, and comments, while writers call private citizens garbage collectors, our homes flophouses, and our neighborhoods “ghettos.”
Shelly d’Arcambal
Shelter Island
Editor’s note: No letter or comments are ‘censored.’