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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor

Bus information
To the Editor:
Reading the article in last week’s Reporter (“What’s with that senior bus?”), it became apparent to me that I hadn’t done the best job of outlining our plans for the new “Senior Bus.”

The Senior Citizens Foundation deliberately (and unanimously) agreed to fund this significant ($85,000) expense in total rather than place any additional burdens on our fellow taxpayers.

It was expected that the old bus would be sold and the insurance and maintenance of that vehicle would then be available to cover those expenses for the new vehicle.

Both those vehicles require that their drivers have commercial drivers licenses (CDL). It is unreasonable to expect drivers to assume such responsibility as volunteers. Currently, these drivers are paid from a county or state grant that is usually exhausted by mid-year.

After that, they are paid from the Senior Services line in the budget.

This new larger bus will not be used to drive people to doctors’ appointments. That service will continue to be provided by volunteers (friends and neighbors) using their own cars or one of the traditional vehicles that have also been donated to the town by grateful families.

We have an ever-expanding population of citizens over 60, most of whom have active minds and many interests. Sadly, they may also be experiencing some physical deficit, visual or structural, that impairs their own ability to drive. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy a trip to Tanger Mall or a cultural event at Peconic Landing.

While our seniors will have priority in use of the bus, it will continue to be available to other groups in town.

Since it will take about three months from the time we place the order to actually having a new bus, we hope the Town Board will accept our gift as soon as possible. We look forward to climbing aboard and rolling forward into Shelter Island’s future.
Chris Lewis
President, Senior Citizens Foundation

Editor’s note: Ms. Lewis, now retired from government, was a longtime member of the Town Board.

One voter’s journey
To the Editor:
I am not aligned with any political party. I am registered as “independent” because I believe in voting for the best candidate.

Over the last two years, I paid close attention to Town Board meetings, in person and on Cablevision. When Gerth was elected, he seemed in over his head. One of his first actions was to appoint his Republican campaign manager, Bob DeStefano Jr., as Town Attorney.

During Gerth’s first year in office, when Gerth went out to the community for meetings, he often brought along DeStefano who answered most questions addressed to Gerth.

I also noted that Gerth was an amiable, smiling supervisor who rarely proposed actions, leaving that to other board members. The one issue he was adamant about was the short-term rental law (STR). In person and on his website, his first goal was eliminating all regulations and restrictions on STRs. After months of discussions and negotiations, a fair STR law was passed by a vote of 4 to 1, with Gerth the only dissenting vote.

Gerth has two colleagues running with him on the Republican line, Julia Weisenberg and Marcus Kaasik. Weisenberg is most noted, in my opinion, for being part of two lawsuits against the town trying to overturn the STR laws. Both suits were thrown out of the courts by the judges. Had she prevailed, there may have been a serious award levied against the town that taxpayers would have had to bear. Kaasik, who has run and lost for Town Council, has written in the Reporter that he is the lone voice on his committee who is against the site planning approval requirement for development on the Island.

In effect, he would wait for something to be built before reviewing and challenging the development.

The other four individuals running for supervisor or Town Council are Gerry Siller, Paul Shepherd, Jim Colligan and Mike Bebon. All of them have spent many years in service to the town during their years here.

Their records are clear and easily checked. Because history is often a good prelude to future action, I urge all of my fellow Islanders to research what every candidate has already done for Shelter Island and their current positions.

Based on that, I will be voting for three of these four candidates as the best choices for Shelter Island.
Bob Fredericks
Shelter Island

Barking dogs
To the Editor:
We were dismayed to read the proposed amendment to the barking dog ordinance. It seems to be written to answer one specific situation. The replacement section “55-14 Excessive Barking” strikes us as excessive legislation. This revision specifying time limits essentially removes the community’s traditional trust in the judgement and discretion of our law enforcement officers.

Sometimes our neighbors’ dogs bark with joyful abandon or in conversation with other neighboring dogs. We do not find that objectionable. And we are not interested in sending their owners to jail for 15 days. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons: joy, enthusiasm, fear, alert, alarm or boredom. Dogs, like humans, express themselves in a variety of ways. Sometimes 10 minutes is not enough.

The law as proposed is draconian and the penalties unnecessarily severe in nature. Seizing dogs, jailing owners and disposing of dogs strikes us as cruel and unusual punishment for 10 minutes of self-expression.

We hope the board will reconsider the proposed revision of chapter 55 of the town law.
And by the way, we are not dog owners. Our cats will not allow it.
Lisa Richland & Bruce Saul
Shelter Island

Water worries
To the Editor:
Regarding the recent “Water Report” delivered to Village of Dering Harbor residents on Sept. 24, if the writer had spent less energy using up oxygen to repudiate and denigrate my written concerns about the long-term agreement with Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) while unfairly criticizing two residents and more time reviewing and checking the consumption table, the writer would have discovered material reporting errors. At least I hope the writer would if he had taken the time to do so.

The report says the mayor and trustees will “share the full text and terms of the long-term agreement with [residents]…as soon as it is in final form” on page 3, while page 4 says that “the agreement has not been (nor will it be) shared outside of the board … and SCWA.” Is this designed to show arrogance or demonstrate recalcitrance or both?

It may be best to delay this a year to regroup for the sake of the village.

If the mayor and trustees decide to plow forward out of self-interest, based on the demonstration of material computational errors, the lack of actual meter reconciliations — are consumption numbers accurate without actual meter readings reconciled with actual water production over the same period? — and the ridiculous denial that potential problems even exist, I would appreciate the following written assurances from the mayor and trustees, SCWA, and Peconic Land Trust:

(1) No fence, barbed wire, or lighting around any structure — [and] subject to ARB approval — at the intersection of Dering Woods Road and Manhanset Road to accommodate “just two pipes coming out of the ground” (Trustee Parcells’s description) and the terminus of the three-phase power supply running along the proposed Parcells’s easement. Chemicals will neither be stored nor mixed at this location.

(2) SCWA will be bound by the terms of the Peconic Land Trust agreement (PLT), section 1.03 (Effect).

(3) SCWA will be bound by the provisions under PLT section 3.14 (Permitted Structures) — “No visible fencing allowed” running along the proposed easement.

(4) Letter from Peconic Land Trust certifying that any underground utility developed by SCWA or its assigns is permitted under PLT section 3.11 (Uses) although this section specifically prohibits commercial use.

(5) Recusal or resignation letters from conflicted board members.

I’ve asked the mayor and trustees to use a qualified financial “expert” to review the cash flows and any additional water reports before distribution to residents.
John T. Colby Jr.
Shelter island

Staying safe
To the Editor:
The Shelter Island Fire Department (SIFD) is promoting this year’s Fire Prevention Week Campaign — Oct. 6-12 — titled, “Not every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice your Escape.”

The campaign works to educate everyone about the small but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.

Across the nation, home fires continue to pose a significant threat to safety. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one or two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.

Remember, the message applies to virtually any location. No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building.

The SIFD will be presenting fire prevention classes to the students of our school. Parents and friends are welcome to join us at the firehouse. Ask your child for times and dates.
Any questions, please call Fire Marshall Mike at 631-749-3360 or email mjacfmgmsn.com.
Mike Johnson
Shelter Island

Be aware
To the Editor:
The Retreat has been serving the East End, including Shelter Island, for over 30 years. October is the time when The Retreat has the opportunity to consider how are services impact the local community and what we think can drive change to break the cycle of violence.

Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, what should we be aware of?
• Domestic violence and sexual assault happen in our community.
• That there is hope and help for individuals impacted by violence and abuse.
• That The Retreat’s services are for all people, regardless of age, race, gender identity, religion, or economic status.
• That we provide services to children and to men.
• The tide is turning as New York State recognizes that sexual harassment is an issue and mandatory training is required for businesses and nonprofits.
• That our schools use our programs for children/youth that address cyber bullying, bullying, unacceptable behavior and that focus on healthy relationships.
• That we had over 1,200 clients last year and that our hotline calls were at a record high by July 2019.
• That we house the entire family and Southampton Animal Shelter houses our clients’ pets for free.
• That our clients have had the courage to leave abusive relationships and live violence free, independent, sustainable lives.
• That it actually does take a village to address inequalities and abuse and that The Retreat has a very supportive community, and that to create change we need all of you.
• That we cannot do it without you and that direct services are necessary as well of the transformation prevention education discussions.
• That our volunteers are critical to our organization.
Loretta K. Davis
Executive Director, The Retreat