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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor

Editor’s note: As stated in our Sept. 12 edition, no political letters or OpEd pieces will be published for the Oct. 31 edition.

Misuse of tax $$
To the Editor:
Upon reading the Oct. 10 article, “Private preschool seeks public funds,” I had to sit back and wonder why our tax dollars should be funding a private preschool, not once but a second time.

I felt last year this was an unacceptable precedent for our town to engage in — is it even legal? The preschool is a private business.

I do see the importance of a preschool, but it’s the responsibility of those running it and the participating parents to apply for grants and raise funds. I personally have been raising money for the past 18 years for the 5K — it’s not that difficult, but any successful fundraising takes time and dedication. Maybe I should be asking the town to contribute?

Why not?

Ms. Knight states that by keeping the children in school on the Island they can become potential EMT’s and firefighters. How many of the parents of the preschool children volunteer in these areas? Children learn from example, if they are not being shown the example, why would they follow that path? The fact is that there is basically nowhere affordable for them to live, should they decide to remain/return to the Island, unless of course they become teachers or police officers. Another whole topic in and of itself.

It was stated that if these parents were “forced” to take their children off-Island for preschool, they may more than likely stay off for their continued education. Since they would not be eligible for public education off-Island it would mean private — that is costly even if partially subsidized due to income. If one of the purposes of having the preschool is also to allow parents to work to afford to live here, how will they afford to do this? Ferriage, driving time, cost of the preschool program, expensive is expensive.

It was also stated that we support our seniors. Hello, they pay school taxes and don’t have children attending our school. Many are on fixed incomes and alone. You can’t compare this to subsidizing a private business.

Marching into a Town Board meeting with children in tow, playing on the heartstrings of our board, is a tactic that I truly hope our board doesn’t fall for, especially in an election environment.

I strongly urge residents to write to our board and tell them that the town has no business subsidizing a private business. This would be a misuse of our tax dollars.
Linda Zavatto
Shelter Island
Editor’s note: The preschool is a nonprofit, not a business.

Back to our roots
To the Editor:
Shelter Islanders are a special breed of Americans. We love our freedoms, even more than most Americans do. Moreover, we can’t stand a big government/militaristic approach to our town. We want to be listened to, not talked at. We want our Town Council members to have genuine compassion in our views and not talk down to us, or worse, we don’t want those who get pleasure in hearing themselves talk.

As Islanders, our biggest pet peeves are people who come here, say how much they like the place, then immediately start making changes, as if they’re trying to save us from ourselves. It always begins the same, they start by writing letters to the editor, then get into our organizations and institutions and gentrify them, which in effect robs us of our original local character, which in many cases is the very reason they came here in the first place.

The result is a more difficult and expensive place to live for the locals and a look and feel that is more like the Hamptons. If you want to make so many changes, why did you come here in the first place?

By no means am I anti-newcomer.

On the contrary, I firmly believe visitors are the lifeblood of the Island. Call them what you will, tourists, second home owners, future friends or even future lovers, they provide the financial base and future skill sets of our community in terms of intelligence, integrity and even character strengthening — once they get it. They make it all possible to keep the Island working. That is a fact.

Those of us who understand Shelter Island, who get it, must notice that when the mouthpieces of neighborhood associations take on a ghetto-, gangster-, Putin-mentality, it’s time to get back to our roots, get back to our love of Shelter Island and vote local.
Marcus Kaasik
Shelter Island
Editor’s note: Mr. Kaasik is a candidate for Town Council on the Republican line.

Don’t exploit Shelter Island
To the Editor:
As a longtime resident and someone who has studied the impact of short-term rentals (STR) on housing markets and communities in the U.S. and other countries, I’ve been concerned that some candidates are mistakenly arguing that reasonable zoning protections, reasonable building codes, and a reasonable STR law, hurts business.

I’d like to share some information and also point out some disturbing trends:
• With the most lenient STR law on the East End, and little enforcement, our STR listings have nearly doubled, from 117 in 2016 to 230 today.
• Revenues from these listings have also increased dramatically in the last year to nearly $9 million.

However, that revenue is not evenly distributed. Basically, the rich get richer. In both island ZIP codes, the top STRs get a disproportionate share of the revenue.

Big houses with hotel-style amenities designed for party weekends win the STR game and their prices are rising, while the prices for smaller, more basic STRs are already stagnating. We can already find many of these large STRs in every AA zone and in the near shore overlay.

This makes the upcoming election very important. We have to stop a handful of big landlords and tech platforms from collecting most of the short-term winnings, and in the process, strip-mining our neighborhoods and resources including our precious drinking water.

Everyone on the Island, local working folks, second home owners, and retirees, should favor strengthening, not weakening, the modest protections created by the STR law and should vote for candidates who support it.

Being pro-business does not mean dismantling laws and codes that protect the public safety or prevent the exploitation of common resources. That pathway can lead to cronyism and corruption.

Being pro-business means keeping business in business zones, and defending laws and codes that contribute to a fair, sustainable future for all of us.
Lily Hoffman
Shelter Island

Get the facts
To the Editor:
I received the latest directive from the Preserve Shelter Island Group, of course unsigned, but the email trail certainly indicates where this came from and who it went to. “Empirical” data and assessments jumped out at me. Please, before you vote, get the facts, ask some questions. This directive is so terribly wrong.

If I were in better frame of mind I would elaborate. Please vote, but get the facts before you do.
Georgiana Ketcham
Shelter Island

What Islanders need
To the Editor:
I had the privilege of attending the candidates’ forum at the Shelter Island school auditorium a few weeks ago. There is no question that all of the candidates brought their own knowledge, skill sets, work experience, and sense of commitment to the issues at hand.

In Bob Frederick’s recent Letter to the editor (“Forum Informs His Vote,” Oct. 17), I found it oddly disturbing that he focused on the “long military service of most of the candidates.” He makes the highly questionable assertion that their knowledge and skills are what is needed by our town. While I honor and respect all those who have served in our military, I am not at all convinced that their knowledge and skills best translate to what our unique town needs.

On the contrary, Shelter Island will benefit in the long run when its Town Council is made up of broad-minded, diverse, critical thinkers. There are candidates who care deeply about the history of Shelter Island and what it once was; candidates who are excellent communicators and transparent; candidates who effectively listen to the ideas of Islanders and bring those ideas to the table; and candidates who truly understand that our uniquely beautiful island does not need more rules and regulations.

Like Mr. Fredericks, I am not affiliated with any political party. Every voter should follow his one sound piece of advice: Vote for those who are best qualified to lead Shelter Island during the next few years and beyond. Vote for the candidates who you think truly understand what Shelter Islanders need and want.
Christopher Coyne
Shelter Island

Downright criminal
To the Editor:
Despite many hundreds, if not thousands of signatures of residents on petitions in favor of retaining Dr. Peter Kelt as our primary physician, the voice of the people has been ignored.

Dr. Kelt recently stated that he has been awaiting word from Town Board members and the supervisor for weeks, but nothing happened, except that employees’ jobs for Dr. Kelt’s office were terminated as of the end of the year.

For our sizeable senior population, who were highly satisfied patients of Dr. Kelt for 30-plus years, this is an unimaginable blow. We now have to ferry off-Island to find new doctors, drive greater distances, if we’re able to, and start doctor/patient relationships all over at an advanced age.

The extremely helpful members of our Shelter Island Pharmacy, led by Suzanne, will take a hit when prescriptions have to be filled elsewhere. All in all, it’s a move allowed to take place that is close to downright criminal in anticipated repercussions.

When citizens’ voices are meaningless to our politicians, and one of them who wants to continue on the board stated outright at the recent League of Women Voters forum that he does not vote for Dr. Kelt, because he prefers younger doctors for a change.

Who cares what he (Jim Colligan) wants when it’s totally against the wishes of the majority of the people? Is that how we are represented? We don’t count, only a small minority sets the rules and then enforces them to their liking?

Shame on our so-called local “representatives,” some of who are no better than the national ones.

Think long and hard before you vote and remember that we still love our Island and the people who really care about us.
Barbara Alen-Lieblein
Shelter Island