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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor

No ‘I’ in team

To the Editor:
Thank you for the editorial in the July 9 edition of the Reporter on the town’s initiative to update the Comprehensive Plan.

I appreciate the kind words regarding my personal efforts, but must point out that I am just one member of a growing team that is coming together to move this important project forward. Our town supervisor has established a Comprehensive Plan Task Force (CPTF) that includes Edward Hindin, who is contributing his time as a volunteer to serve as the Project Director, Albert Dickson, and myself.

The Town Board is fully supporting the Task Force’s efforts. Edward, who has a professional background in planning, has been doing a significant amount of work setting up the planning process, developing necessary documents, interacting with planning professionals in other towns, and running the CPTF meetings.

Albert has been collaborating on the development and review of documents and contributing both his experience on the Town Board and his deep understanding of Shelter Island issues to help guide and shape the approach to the Plan. We are now receiving applications for the nine-member Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (CPAC) and have also received interest from several potential consultants in response to our Request for Proposals. Soon we will be asking other members of the community to join us to work on specific sections of the Plan.

As was pointed out in the editorial, this is an enormous undertaking. It will need an intense effort by a large number of Islanders to be successful.
I am excited by the team’s progress to date, and look forward to continuing my efforts as part of the larger team to help make this important effort successful.

Mike Bebon

Councilman, Town of Shelter Island

Making a Comprehensive Plan

To the Editor:
Supplementing Ed Hindin’s informative letter last week on the two earlier Comprehensive Plan efforts, I was a member of the 1992 Comprehensive Plan Committee, as well as chairman of the Committee’s Land Use, Planning and Open Space Task Force.

A relative newcomer to the Island (Nancy and I arrived in 1976 as second home owners), I was fortunate to have wonderful Task Force teammates (I recall Barney Ryan, Larry O’Neill, Mr. Van Rynbach, and Councilwoman Sharon Kast) and, in addition to frequent meetings, my colleagues knew all the owners of large undeveloped parcels, enabling each of us Task Force members to visit and evaluate every Island undeveloped parcel 5 acres or larger.

Our Task Force Report — the Town Clerk would have a copy and I have a file — over time drifted out to the East End environmental community, eventually assisting in the successful efforts in Albany and the East End to adopt the 2% Open Space tax in 1998, laying the groundwork for Shelter Island’s wildly successful open space preservation program.

I mention this to highlight to potential volunteers how valuable your contributions might be in ways foreseeable and unforeseeable.

In my first year as supervisor, 2008, I thought a revisit to the 1994 Plan might be timely and we appointed a committee. When the Town Board ultimately received and discussed the committee’s report (I sat in on most of the committee meetings) my able and conscientious board colleagues in effect said, “Jim, you have some intelligent friends, but we have enough regulation.”

I mention this as this 2008 Report — Town Clerk would have a copy — nonetheless makes some interesting points, which should be looked at and discussed, rejected, pondered, whatever.
In fact maybe these past efforts would be better helping hands and resources now than a $150,000 outside consultant who would have to take a crash course on what Shelter Island is, before showing up at the first meeting. Maybe it’s better to listen to dedicated neighbors, past and present, than being led by hand by some expensive outside consultant who, to use the old bromide, borrows our watch and tells us what time it is.

Good luck!


Former supervisor, Town of Shelter Island

Missing the point

To the Editor:

In all my years in journalism, I have never seen a newspaper invite letters to the editor and then use editorial space (“A Gentle Plea” July 16) to scold them for voicing their opinions. If you found our letter to be so “mean” and “ugly” why did you choose to print it in the first place?

I am reminded of the letter you published in response to my essay about life in Florida at the onset of the pandemic. The letter writer, who obviously missed the point, was rather hurtful in her criticism. How come you didn’t come to my defense? I guess we move in different circles.

To suggest that our opinions are the result of being “cooped up” or because we are uncertain about the future is downright patronizing. To suggest that the phrase “meat and potatoes” was “insulting” and “cutting,” meaning the market’s menu is “not food fit for real people” tells me you, too, missed the point. Do I need to explain metaphors? Basic need vs. nice to have?

It should surprise no one that the story about Marie Eiffel Market would rub many the wrong way. The Island is home to a lot of hard-hit business owners, many of whom had to wait weeks to open, unlike the Bridge Street market. Their plights, along with the Island’s many donation-dependent organizations, deserve much more attention then cursory references.
Sure, you say, you don’t like the GoFundMe campaign? Don’t contribute.

How cavalier. Such an easy way to dismiss our disappointment in the newspaper.

Like I said, I guess we move in different circles.

Mary Fran Gleason

Shelter Island

Time of division

To the Editor:
Re: S Ladik’s letter (“So much upset), July 16.

We are living in a time of hate and division and so much pain and suffering.

Why would you want to add to that by making such hateful and spiteful remarks about Marie Eiffel, a woman who has fought her way out of homelessness and catastrophic injuries and who has done so much for so many?

David Rankin & Lily Brett

Shelter Island


To the Editor:
Such a noble cause for you to champion!

Marie Eiffel’s Go Fund Me Page — last time I looked she had raised upwards of $170,000 — so it seems unnecessary.

A successful businesswoman begging for money on beautifully and professionally shot video, aerial shots included, is enough to outrage some Islanders.

They have every right to express themselves in letters to the Reporter.

There was nothing personal in mentioning a spa treatment, just enlightening people as to how their donations may be spent.

This is an opinion column and the locals should have every right to express themselves. Is it not their paper, too? I do not think a few disgruntled residents’ letters will take the shine off those dollars. We are not exactly her baguette and butter.

I am glad that you got to use ad hominem, however. Incorrectly, because I know how you love that word. In my opinion, you should have kept your opinion to yourself and not scold Islanders for expressing their heartfelt views.

S Ladik

Shelter Island


To the Editor:
As one of the writers of a letter to the editor that was chastised for perceived ad hominem attacks, I would like to clarify the intent.

In this age of disparity, I believe it is important to bring attention to those who are facing severe hardship. I choose not to contribute to an entrepreneur when there are others having trouble putting food on the table. The analogy, croissant and latte versus meat and potatoes, describes wants versus need. (Being first generation French, I assure you that “cutting references” to that heritage is not in my DNA.)

So as a gentle plea to you, the editor, I request that you embrace the inspiration to do more for local charities. Use your position to bring equal attention to those in need rather than scold your readers like they were contrary school children. Your bias is extremely evident.

Vivienne Ganter-Ritz

Shelter Island


To the Editor:
In response to your editorial in last week’s Reporter,I would like to clarify a few things.

1.) The term “meat and potatoes” was used as a metaphor for basic needs. Meaning basic needs of the residents of Shelter Island during these tragic times, not what you interpreted to mean the market’s food is “not fit for real people.” Makes one wonder what your definition of “Real People” actually is?

2.) I personally have no ill feelings towards Marie Eiffel, I never met the woman. As a matter of fact I wish her continued success with her GoFundMe page. I’m sure there are a lot more people out there willing to contribute to her fund because, after all, as Barnum once said, one is born every minute.

3.) Our letter was not intended to be mean-spirited, as a matter of fact we actually toned it down quite a bit. The intent of the letter was to ask why the Reporter would choose to highlight and single out the plight of one Shelter Island business over all the other businesses on the Island, when they are all faced with the same economic issues and hardships.

4.) Lastly, If you thought our letter was so appalling then why did you print it? Aren’t you the editor of the Reporter? Don’t you have the final word as to what gets published and what doesn’t? But what really frustrates me is that you had the audacity to chastise us in your editorial for writing it when you had every opportunity to rewrite it or not publish it at all. There is something fundamentally wrong with this picture.

Tom Bliss

Shelter Island


To the Editor:
In the Reporter article “Town moves on Bootleggers parking; new regs restrict access to street,” July 16), the following language was used to describe visitors to Shelter Island:

“The issue of off-Island weekend visitors arriving in large numbers — many of them Spanish-speaking people from New York City — in crowds of up to 100, staying all day at the beach at Bootleggers Alley to fish and picnic, has been discussed by the board for weeks, and sparked strong reactions.”

I don’t doubt for a minute that the “strong reactions” are sparked by the fact that the visitors are “Spanish-speaking people from New York City.” Racism is everywhere, and the image of invading brown hordes from the dirty city is a classic nightmare of white people all along Long Island.

But by repeating this language in its story, the Reporter is providing encouragement and stimulus for the racism and outrage of Shelter Island’s less tolerant residents.

If there’s a problem with illegal parking, let’s talk about that. If there’s a need for public toilets, let’s talk about that. But please do not encourage those who will demonize visitors to Shelter Island based on their first language or tired stereotypes about their race. If people can’t hang out, fish, and picnic on a public beach then what can they do?

William Gribble

Shelter Island

Editor’s note: The quote describing the visitors to Bootleggers Alley was voiced at a public meeting by a town councilman, and repeated at other meetings. The town then posted bilingual signage at the beach.

Gyms not essential

To the Editor:
Yes, the pandemic has had a very negative impact on businesses, in particular, small businesses. I’m a human capital consultant and, guess what? Companies are not hiring right now.

Gyms are in a category separate from some of the others mentioned as examples of why gyms should be allowed to open, e.g., dentistry — most people would deem dentists as “essential services;” hair salons can insist their technicians and clients wear masks and equipment is easily wiped down after each service is finished. Tattoo parlors? I can’t even begin to understand why people would want to puncture their skin in a pandemic, but at least one person is worked on by one technician at a time and all equipment can be sanitized after use.

But gyms? People in the best of times are often not considerate, e.g., not everyone wipes their sweat off equipment after use. And if they do, it is with a towel they have used to wipe their face and arms down … hardly sanitary. It is nearly impossible to have someone sanitizing every piece of equipment after each use, especially during busy times.

Sorry, gyms are not essential in any way. It is summer and if one can take the time to get in their car and drive to the gym, they can just as well go outside for a walk or a run. If gyms want to provide health insurance coverage for each of their staff, including those who work part-time, perhaps they should be allowed to open. Coverage will relieve the state of some of the costs for those employees who need medical care, but it will still burden hospital capacity.

Stop whining and be responsible community members. Suing the state in the hopes of making up lost compensation is shameful. We have many other pressing needs.

Christine Houston

Shelter Island