The Town Board addressed an issue at Tuesday’s work session that it has revisited for weeks and has sparked strong reactions in the town — off-Island weekend visitors in large numbers staying all day at the beach at Bootleggers Alley to fish and picnic.
Councilman Jim Colligan, who lives in Silver Beach, has reported, along with others, that the majority of visitors are mostly Spanish-speaking families. There have been reports of 50 to 100 people on the beach at one time.
One problem has been parking, which the board addressed at its regular meeting on Friday, May 29, by designating parking on one side of the street as resident-only; part of the other side of the street near the boat ramp and fire lane will be off limits; and public parking will only be available farther along toward Nostrand Parkway.
The other issue is complaints that on weekends the visitors use vegetation near the beach as toilets.
The town has installed two portable toilets in the area and outside hand sanitation stations. Also, signs were put up in Spanish and English calling for social distancing and staying on the part of the beach where it is legal to fish and congregate.
Police Chief Jim Read said last weekend officers were on patrol with a translator, informing people “there is no excuse not to use the bathrooms.” The officers will be “strong in their delivery” to use the sanitary facilities, he added.
“We welcome people,” the chief has said, “but we want them to follow the rules.”
Chief Read said Tuesday that most people parked legally and used the portable toilets, which were cleaned three times daily. There were numerous patrols, he added — almost all “uneventful” — informing the beachgoers about property laws, social distancing and to use the toilets. The weekend was not without “issues,” the chief told the board, but they were minor and those on the beach were cooperative.
Town Attorney Bob DeStefano complimented the chief and the officers on patrol with dealing with a difficult job “with compassion.”
In an opening statement at the beginning of the work session, Supervisor Gerry Siller spoke about the town’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the situation of racism and civil unrest in the country, and the town’s response to the issues surrounding Bootleggers Alley. “I want to believe that the people of Shelter Island, who are openly loving and caring of their neighbors, are as loving and caring, or at the least tolerant, of visitors who come to spend a day with their families on this beautiful Island that we call home,” the supervisor said.
Recreation Director Bethany Ortmann said the town, in conjunction with The Friends of the Library, will host a drive-in movie at Wades Beach on Saturday, June 13. (Rain date, June 14). The movie is “Doolittle.” To ensure social distancing, there will be a maximum of 35 cars allowed, and to allow people to sit outside their vehicles, if they wish.
There will be concesions, no admission charge, but donations will be accepted. The sound of the movie will be heard through vehicles’ FM radio signals. To get a ticket (one per vehicle), contact the Recreation Department at https://shelterisland.recdesk.com/Community/Home.
Outside Dining, Contact Tracing
Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams is working with colleagues to put in place a plan for outside seating at Island restaurants when word has come from the county and state on the issue.
Ms. Brach Williams also noted that contact tracing — a process of tracing every person an infected person has been in recent contact with — is essential to stop the spread of COVID. Residents might receive a phone call from tracers to interview them about their and contacts. “Answer the call,” Ms. Brach-Williams said. On your phone’s screen, the caller will be identified as “NY Contact Tracing.”
She added that, with the lifting of the ban on elective surgeries, the first two applicants at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital tested positive for the virus, and both were asymptomatic, meaning they had no symptoms of the illness. “The virus is still out there,” she said, and urged residents to wear masks and keep social distancing.
At the regular Town Board meeting Friday, May 29, members voted unaminously to approve a draft of a detailed “Project Management Plan,” a roadmap for a Comprehensive Plan for the town.
A municipality’s Comprehensive Plan dictates policy on multiple fronts, including development, land use, the environment, transportation, housing and other aspects of community life.
The timeline set forth is: “mobilization” by September; completion of a draft by June 2021; approval by the board in October 2021; and implementation in December of that year.
Members will be charged with securing $50,000 this year to pay an outside consultant and an estimated $100,000 next year. Councilman Mike Bebon noted that the figures are approximate, and could be lower.