This week in Shelter Island history: Perlman program gets approval


John Lennon paid 1,344 pounds in fines for 96 people protesting apartheid policies in South Africa when a South African rugby team played in Scotland.

After Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted into the Army and was stripped of his title, Joe Frazier emerged as heavyweight boxing champion, beating Jimmy Ellis in a technical knockout.

The British-American thriller “Sleuth” opened in New York City and would go on to win a Tony Award.

“The Who: Live at the Leeds” was recorded.

Japan became the fourth nation to put a satellite into orbit.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Town Board talks future of Goat Hill

It was 40 years ago that the Town Board was debating the future of the Shelter Island Country Club. Members agreed the building needed some work but were also looking for someone to take over management of the club.

The Board would advertise for someone to lease and manage the club. 

POSTSCRIPT: The town owns Goat Hill and maintains the building. The club is awaiting word on its application to become a nonprofit entity. That would allow members to save sales tax on items purchased to run the club and no income tax burden for the club. It would also enable the club to accept contributions that would be tax-deductible.

Following several years of struggles, the club is holding its own financially.


School budget committee forming

Thirty years ago the Board of Education was encouraging residents to join a Budget Advisory Committee. The aim was to bring about greater resident involvement in structuring the annual school budget.

Previously, there sometimes had been complaints about school spending, but those often came after it was too late to make changes prior to voting on a budget.

POSTSCRIPT: Today there’s no formal Budget Advisory Committee, but budget plans are being discussed monthly prior to an expected adoption of a 2020-21 budget that will be submitted to voters in May.

Superintendent Brian Doelger is encouraging the public to attend the meetings or at least watch the recordings of those meetings and to make their concerns and/or suggestions known at a time when they can still have a very real impact on what the Board of Education puts forward.


Perlman Music program draws rave reviews

No, it wasn’t an actual musical presentation 20 years ago, but an appearance before the Zoning Board of Review by the famed Perlman Music Program’s attorney to use the former Peconic Lodge site as its new East End summer home. There was joking among audience members about popping champagne corks after the presentation by attorney Patricia Blake.

ZBA chairman Al Hammond pronounced Ms. Blake’s presentation “very entertaining” and violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman called the approval that was forthcoming an incredible dream.

POSTSCRIPT: The summer program has been drawing in Islanders and visitors for 20 years now with nary a complaint about noise or any other problems. Young musicians who studied there have gone on to considerable success in the music world.


Tuthill Drive house plan draws fire

Ten years ago at this time, the Zoning Board of Appeals and many residents were discussing a proposal for a house at 44 Tuthill Drive that would require a variance of the front yard setback and relief from wetlands requirements. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had already issued a wetlands permit.

Architect Charles Thomas said the proposed house fit within the neighborhood, but that’s not how many residents and some ZBA members saw it. Neighbors argued that a 20-foot setback in front would make the house appear too large.

Member Patricia Shillingburg said there was concern about the house size in a neighborhood where surrounding properties were smaller. Member Doug Matz said he was concerned that the owner was trying to create a building envelope where one did not exist and proposing to put a substantial structure on that lot. He said he would be more comfortable with a smaller house on the site.

POSTSCRIPT: Ten years later, size still matters, with land owners and builders insisting their projects would be more energy efficient and comply with septic requirements. Others have argued that large houses are changing the ambiance of the Island and threatening to change Shelter Island from a community of mixed economic levels to a place where only the wealthy will be able to live.

Is it too late to stop the direction in which the Island appears to many to be moving? Only time will tell.