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Town informational meeting on ferries, self-quarantine and school

Town officials held an informational meeting at Town Hall on Friday.

The meeting was physically closed to the public to maintain social distancing, similar to other meetings during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. But the meeting was live-streamed over the internet, available on ZOOM and broadcast on Channel 22.

Town Hall is open, with all departments functioning, but only via email or telephone, or video conferencing. These days Judy Meringer, confidential secretary to Supervisor Gerry Siller, said she, Mr. Siller and Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar are the only people in the Town Hall building.

Friday’s meeting brought information on how the town, the school and the ferry companies have mobilized to protect residents during the health crisis.

Police Chief Jim Read, the town’s emergency management coordinator, said that the number of people connected to Shelter Island who have tested positive remained at two, with one person hospitalized with the illness. The town’s Public Information Officer Jack Thilberg said the term “connected to” means a resident, an employee who lives elsewhere, or a frequent visitor.

Chief Read stressed that anyone needing information to call 311, a non-emergency number set up by Suffolk County.

Chief Read also cited a new email for questions on the virus: [email protected] For questions and concerns, he also recommended the town’s website at shelterislandtown.us/ and a newly launched town Facebook page.

The chief noted that “we’re holding our own,” with only two cases of the virus, “which is a credit to our community. Let’s keep it that way.”

Food supplies are continuing, the chief said, and the new protocols of allowing only 15 people into the IGA at any one time is working well.

There’s an idea to install Plexiglas at the checkout area to protect cashiers, he added.


South Ferry: Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Morehead of South Ferry said all crews are practicing safe practices to keep themselves and customers safe by providing gloves and masks to employees as well as the conscientious use of sanitizing products. A hand-washing area has been intsalled. Also, Mr. Morehead said the company is alerting customers to remain in their vehicles to minimize contact with crews.

Check the website southferry.com for any changes in scheduling.

To purchase resident tickets, Mr. Morehead said reservations should be made by phoning 631 749-1200 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. and provide credit card information along with a ZIP code. A resident ticket will be reserved. The buyer should call the office then and when they are outside the office door, a ticket will be handed out. Purchasers can also buy resident tickets by mail by sending credit card information, a check or cash, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to South Ferry, PO BOX 2024, Shelter Island, NY 11964.

Nonresident tickets (one way, same day round trip, bicycle, motorcycle, pedestrian, commuter passes and 10 trip ticket books) are available for purchase online at /southferry.com/tickets-passes/

First boat daily off of Shelter Island will continue to be 5:40 a.m.

North Ferry: General Manger Bridg Hunt said that every part of the boats, except the bridge area, is considered a “hot spot” and the gloves of the crew members are also included in that category.

After taking tickets and change, the crew goes upstairs and uses sanitizers.

Mr. Hunt asked everyone paying by cash to have exact change to minimize hand-to-hand contact.

There will be more boats in service to make sure the number of vehicles boarding will be less per boat to cut back on crew/customer interaction.

The passenger cabins will be left open because life preservers are stored there, but Mr. Hunt encouraged people to stay outside for social distancing, suggesting they bring an umbrella if it’s raining and dress appropriately.

All cash is sanitized when it’s taken to the office before going back on to the boats, Mr. Hunt said.

Chief Jim Read announced again that, if you are ill and going off-Island for coronavirus testing, call the Police Department’s non-emergency number, 631-749-0600. You will be given an appointment to receive a printed notice to be shown through a closed vehicle window or a ticket placed under your windshield wiper for the protection of ferry crews.


Some East End town officials have called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to restrict travel from New York City to the area. Supervisor Siller said he won’t join in that request.

“We don’t think it’s enforceable,” he said, adding that he and other town officials “aren’t comfortable” denying second homeowners, who pay taxes, access to their homes on the Island.

Officials reiterated the requirement that all people coming to the Island from New York City self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival.

Councilwoman Amber Brach Williams said that signage is being considered at the ferry terminals informing passengers of the requirement.


School Superintendent Brian Doelger reported that school will be closed until at least April 15.

All schools across New York State will remain closed through that date in an effort to stop the spread of the pandemic, Gov. Cuomo announced at a media briefing.

The governor, who had initially ordered schools closed from March 16 through March 30, didn’t rule out another extension as mid-April nears, saying the state will reassess the school closures again in the coming days.

Shelter Island School voluntarily closed prior to the mandatory closing, which was first announced by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on March 15.

Mr. Doelger said that the food deliveries to students’ homes and the distant learning program is working efficiently.

Two school classrooms will open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for daycare for parents working in essential services. This category includes first responders, healthcare employees, people in the food industry and others.

It is by appointment only, and for more information, call the school at (631) 749-0302.