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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


To the Editor:
RE: Water quality. Rhode Island gets referenced a lot, so I reached out to some engineering and supervisory heads there. First, Narragansett Bay was cleaned up by bringing its two main wastewater facilities up to award-winning quality, not from everyone installing IAs (Innovative Alternative septic systems).

There was an effort to blanket implement IAs in critical ponds, some successful, some unsuccessful (Charleston’s remained closed for fishing).

Our conversations turned to human psychology. Non-passive systems like IAs tend to go in the ground, “out-of-sight-out-of-mind.” They have electrical parts, can freeze, need maintenance when in use, or not, and you should anticipate your bill being higher than what’s touted. The most amusing part, when the Rhode Island engineer described the repair service call log: malfunction due to people turning the systems off to save on the electric bill. Clever humans!

Passive systems like grassy swales ensure less human interference or error. Education is important, but in the end, people will kick the sand over their dogs’ poop in even the most affluent of neighborhoods.

Systems are not miracle-workers. Even in Barrington, R.I. which is fully sewered, beaches closed this past July, because the tunnel got flooded with storm runoff and blew out — huge amounts of canine and other wildlife fecal matter, and city waste runoff. The other consideration is that grants are not free money. Someone pays for the solution; we should anticipate those grants not being available in same amounts in a few years.

Ultimately my conversations led me to this: When making decisions about water preservation and conservation, we must remember people need transparency and straightforwardness. Blanket policies or tunnel vision could potentially ignore two sensitive populations: working families and seniors on fixed incomes. We have to spend money on water cleanup, period.

But where we go wrong is trying to sell it as painless, no expense, all positive. We anticipate resistance because money is limited; it takes time and energy to produce it. We figure, remove all the negatives, less chance for criticism. Right?

I’d like to offer the opposite: realism, so we can all get behind it. Those in decision-making positions need to spend this money as if it were their own. The manufacturers of IAs want to sell us on superior effectiveness just as I am trying to sell my daughter on responsibility.

Nothing wrong with either. Everyone is selling “something.” We might get further, however, with a realistic pitch.
Julia Romanchuk Weisenberg
Shelter Island

Editor’s Note: Ms. Weisenberg is a Republican candidate for Town Council this November.

A greener Island
To the Editor:
Many of us have experienced the utter frustration of hauling a plastic bag full of empty cans, bottles and other redeemable vessels to the three machines located at the IGA only to find either a line of folks waiting for the machines or the machines out of order. It seems to me that we need more machines on the Island.

It’s great so many people follow the rules when it comes to recycling. However, in order for us to continue to be compliant and a good environmental partner, we need to make it easier.

More machines would help in that effort.

The Bottle Bill currently in effect in 10 states works something like this: The retailer buys beverages from a distributor, a deposit is paid to the distributor for each container purchased. The consumer pays the deposit to the retailer when buying the beverage and receives a refund when the empty container is returned to a supermarket or redemption center.

Container deposit laws have proven to encourage recycling and minimize waste in landfills.

Again, we need more machines on the Island. Select a central location like the Center or Bridge Street. The deposit credit can be used at the IGA or the business establishment that maintains the machines. Of course, I realize that many people do not buy the beverages from our local merchants and acquire the bottle or can in some other fashion, but that’s not the point. Keeping the waste out of a landfill is the goal.

Please consider this as a step toward a greener Island.
Gregory E. Senken
Shelter Island

Working together
To the Editor:
When we moved here our main concern was emergency medical care. We heard that our Emergency Medical Services crews were good, but we didn’t know how good until we needed them this past week.

Within minutes of my call for help, they were here along with the police. Kind, professional care was provided and when we got to the North Ferry the middle aisle had been kept open so the ambulance could get off and to Eastern Long Island Hospital fast.

It’s comforting to know that we have individuals with EMS, police and the ferry who work together to provide the best care around. Our sincere thanks to all.
Charlie and Linda Puls
Shelter Island

The whole shebang
To the Editor:
Kudos once again to the Shelter Island Fire Department for the great Chicken Barbecue — lots of smiling faces, everywhere.

It seems this past weekend was one of those magical Island weekends, from tennis, to golf, to sailing and just plain summertime fun. The Island was alive and well.

And the ArtSI annual Studio Tour showed the unbelievable talent on this little ole island.

There’s more to see at the Chamber of Commerce’s art show this weekend, do not miss it for a display of unbelievable creativity by young and old.

I’m trying not to bring up the short-term rental business, but the abuse I am getting from those that were totally unaware of the whole “shebang” is something else. But I am tough. So,

I just want taxpayers to start paying attention to what is happening and start attending Town Board meetings and ask questions. It appears lots of taxpayer money is about to be spent and has already been spent unnecessarily. Many issues have to be addressed for the preservation of Shelter Island.

Undeniably, running this town is a very complex business, almost beyond comprehension, there are so many moving parts.

The service industry on Shelter Island, is what keeps the boat afloat, and the people working within this industry need affordable housing. It seems the towns surrounding this island have many projects in the works. It seems there is money available from the federal and state level.

Of course there seems to be certain criteria to receive these funds. What are they? It seems someone should know. (Love the word “seems.”)

I unfortunately cannot quite understand the big issue here, and would love to be enlightened.
Georgiana Ketcham
Shelter Island