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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor


Library tennis tournament
To the Editor:
The Shelter Island Library Tennis Tournament, originally started in the 1990s by the Jerry Berner family, returned for the second year in a row last Saturday.

I want to thank the people whose hard work brought about this fun event that also raised funds for the library.

Linda Kraus, Don Dunning and Chuck Kraus, chair of the event, dealt with logistics, sponsors, awards and a million little details. The Walter Richards Family was a generous sponsor. Other sponsors followed and we owe thanks to Binder Pools, Edward and Cheryl Brown, Donald and Corinne Dunning, JETS 7 Jasper, Katta Protective Service, the Montella Family, Shelter Island Gazette, Shelter Island Hardware, Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy, Shelter Island Wine and Spirits and South Ferry Company.

This year, we had “family sponsors” who included the Assouline-Lichten Foundation, Clean Bath Options, Seth and Nicole Harris, David Klenawicus, Katherine and David Montgomery, MD, Patricia Quigley, Attorney-at-Law and the Williamson Family.

STARs Café and the Flying Goat restaurant provided our players and spectators with a delicious breakfast and lunch, respectively. White Oak Wine Garden provided wine to our winners. Tennis pro Moussa Dramé and helpers from the Moussa Dramé Tennis Academy did a spectacular job of organizing the teams and keeping the action on the courts moving forward.

Finally, congratulations to our champions: Mixed Doubles — Seth and Nicole Harris; Men’s Division — Danny Berner and Chris Knight; and Women’s Division — Margie Mosher and Mary O’Shea.
Terry Z. Lucas
Director, Shelter Island Public Library

Structure and solutions
To the Editor:
As we approach this voting season, let’s work together on decency. Decency can take a backseat to fear. Fear can cause us to lose all rationality, polarize, be stubborn, blame or shut down. Our island faces a new chapter of uncomfortable change.

Some challenges like tick-related illness, housing and water are not unique to us, but perhaps because we have remained relatively unscathed on the East End the longest, we can’t help but feel victimized. But I want us to be rational, finding within ourselves a commonality of values, so we can unite despite fear.

The neighbor who is labeled “selling out” will be the one to come to your aid. The neighbor you ridicule for not understanding your choices will be supporting your business.

Decency means looking at legislation, structure and solutions without prejudice. Whether someone violates beach use, while another is causing a disturbance with animals or concerts, does ethnicity, age, financial, or resident status really matter at that point? Let’s refrain from using terms like “zombie house” when referring to homes that have fallen in disrepair. Having watched a parent’s health decline, we underestimate the extent of crisis than can befall people.

When we see a house constructed larger than what our values are, does it matter why that owner wished it? Could your neighbor just as easily be baffled by your wanting to have a chain-linked fence or circular pool? In real estate, reasons vary as to a person’s choice to tear down. A mega-house is subjective.

Plop it in another geographic area, it will seem average. Sometimes it’s simply their right to want to enjoy their property through their unique expression. But it becomes a situation akin to an iPhone user looking at an Android holder and thinking, “How could you?”

We need to strive to avoid labeling property rights with some morally-gross act. “Those people” are people. We can be decent while still saying “no.” We can unite as an island in deciding on a “look” to our community and strike a balance between collecting tax revenues and protecting the natural resources that makes all of us love it here. The market will bear that change. A new buyer will evolve who will invest in the “smaller.”

Being clear on our values, refraining from mixing morality with legislation, and holding to decency above all is how I believe we will make change together.
Julia K. Weisenberg
Shelter Island

(Editor’s note: Ms. Weisenberg is a Republican candidate for Town Council in November.)

Dividing the Island
To the Editor:
I am a plaintiff in the litigation challenging the short-term rental regulations that were passed two years ago. As a result of the decision by the Court that the law had first and fourth constitutional amendment problems, the town attempted to repeal and replace the law.

The “new” law is even more intrusive, applying to each and every person who rents any part of their property for any length of time. The required registration mandates a current C of O. The maximum capacity for any rental — long or short — is two people per bedroom as reflected on the C of O.

Regardless of length of rental, each owner must advise the town when she is renting any part of her property. Violations of any part of the law trigger financial penalties and imprisonment. I am using the pronoun “she” because the vast majority of people affected are women.

Plaintiffs believe that the “new” law is invalid because it violates statutory notice provisions. Nonetheless, we made the business decision to dismiss the lawsuit on the “repealed” law. We are considering all of our options, including commencing a lawsuit challenging the “new” law.

What we decide to do will not affect the right of individual homeowners to challenge the application of the “new” law to them on the basis of its invalidity. We are advising the Court that: “Plaintiffs reserve the right to assert in a new action that the new statute was not validly passed.”

Please feel free to contact me via e-mail at [email protected].

When we have made the appropriate decision, we may be looking to all of you fabulous Shelter Islanders for additional contributions to the legal fund and are thankful for your prior generosity.

It goes without saying that we can dispense with all of this by voting Republican for Town Board in November — this advice coming from a dedicated, hardworking Democrat.

In November, we have the opportunity to replace members of the board who have demonstrated their lack of knowledge and lack of ability to govern. But they have been very successful dividing the Island.

The next fiasco will be the water situation and candidates Colligan and Shepherd have not demonstrated the requisite education and insight to address this.

Please read the thoughtful Letter to the Editor penned last week by Julia Romanchuk Weisenberg, a candidate for the Board, about the water situation.
Shelly d’Arcambal
Shelter Island

Best interest
To the Editor:
During the August Village of Dering Harbor meeting, when a resident asked about the water works ownership of the proposed $1 million, 40-year agreement with Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA), both Trustee Parcells and Mayor Morgan replied that it was “too complex to discuss here…we can discuss offline…” Uh-huh. (Darn those residents, the simple folk, asking questions.)

This is the same board that initially proposed making it illegal to plow snow in the winter, to wash your family dog or your car or water your tomato garden with village water, moor your boat in the harbor, while successfully making it illegal for homeowners to take care of their property after 3 p.m. on Saturdays and all day Sundays, while exempting themselves, hiding under a “construction” law.

Mr. Parcells also commented that the SCWA “knows what they’re doing,” yet Trustee Kelly admitted nearly two-thirds of the pumped water is unaccounted for, while at least one meter was put in upside down. Mr. Parcells noted the two proposed wells off Manhanset Road will be “unseen.” (Hopefully not through a 6-foot high, flood-lighted, barbed-wire fence.) Written reassurance?

It would be in the residents’ best interest to review and comment on the proposed agreement with SCWA before the board votes to commit the village to a 40-year agreement with a $1 million-plus price tag. It would be in the residents’ best interest to see a current pro forma balance sheet indicating the current liability to SCWA, versus the budgeted liability, or produce an audit opinion saying there wasn’t a liability upon execution of the existing SCWA agreement.

It would be in the residents’ best interest to know what parts of village code needs to be changed to accommodate SCWA requirements and who sets the fees and operating costs going forward including metering. It would be in the residents’ best interest to exclude Mr. Parcells and Ms. Morgan from negotiating and executing any agreement with SCWA since they are actively marketing their properties for sale. As Mr. Parcells said his property is required to accommodate SCWA infrastructure, it would be in the residents’ best interest if Mr. Parcells could sign a declaration under penalty of perjury that his property has not been sold, transferred, or in any way conveyed (or impaired) — including potential breach of the Peconic Land Trust agreement — to the SCWA or other entity for this purpose, or resign his position on the board effective immediately.
John T. Colby Jr.
Shelter Island

Nitrogen problem?
To the Editor:
Our elected leaders should be commended for their concern about contamination of our aquifer, but their response to the problem is quite disconcerting. Confronted by high nitrogen levels in test wells, our leaders have concluded that ineffective treatment of our septic waste was a major problem and have launched an expensive program to subsidize property owners who install I/A septic systems to counteract this “nitrogen problem.”

Nitrogen is a noble gas, harmless and ubiquitous. It makes up 80% of the air we breathe. Each of us has about 406 liters of pure nitrogen in our pleural cavities at all times.

Nitrogen is also an important component of several of the 33 amino acids that are the building blocks of all our proteins.

Nitrogen in chemical combination with other elements forms many other chemical compounds; some are vital to health and some are harmful (ammonia, urea, creatinine, uric acid). Nitrogenous compounds enter the septic waste system in several ways: 1) undigested proteins, 2) ammonia contained in household cleaning products, 3) nitrogenous compounds excreted during normal protein metabolism. Science tells us that 80% of nitrogen excreted by healthy humans is in the form of urea.

We have a urea problem rather than a nitrogen problem. Science also tells us that healthy humans excrete about 14 grams of urea per day.

In a recent edition, the town engineer estimated it would require installation of 163 I/A systems in the Center to mitigate 10% of the nitrogenous waste (urea) in that immediate area. To subsidize 163 installations would cost well over $1 million.

If such a plan were adopted on a county-wide basis, the cost would be astronomic. The plan is economically futile.

In the debate about septic waste, another potential source of nitrogenous waste has been totally ignored — the indiscriminate distribution of nitrogen-rich fertilizer on our lawns, ball fields and golf courses. While urea in septic systems is measured in grams, fertilizer comes in 50-pound bags, clearly labelled with how much nitrogen is contained. Science tells us that only 10% of the fertilizer finds its way into a blade of grass. The rest, being highly soluble, filters into our precious aquifer.

Our elected leaders have adopted a program to spend millions of dollars treating 10% of a minuscule amount of urea at the same time ignoring the indiscriminate use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer by the truckload. That constitutes irresponsible leadership, and this fine newspaper is quite remiss for not pointing this out. Of course, that is only one man’s opinion.
David Olsen
Shelter Island