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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor

New normal?

To the Editor:

I have been a summer resident of Shelter Island for 25 years. I don’t need to tell everybody who reads this paper how special this island is and how despite the passage of time much of what we love about the Island has not changed.

But I fear that one thing might be changing, and that is the feeling of trust we have always had when leaving our houses and bikes unlocked and our boats at various town landings and beaches, always expecting that it was safe to do so. 

I don’t know if there are any published statistics about an increase of theft on the Island. Occasionally the Police blotter reports a stolen kayak, or a “missing paddle board,” as was the case in last week’s blotter. The “missing” paddle board was mine, and it wasn’t just missing, it was stolen from the Wades Beach parking lot where I had kept it with a permit. I had only owned it for two weeks when it was taken.

I don’t know why the thief or thieves stole that particular board. It was a high-end paddle board, but several years old. The police don’t seem interested in pursuing this case or in informing the public about other such thefts.

When I first registered the board at the police station, I asked if it was safe to keep it unlocked on the beach parking lot. They assured me there had not been any problems. So maybe I just got unlucky.

But I have the nagging feeling that this may now be the new normal.


Shelter Island

Quality of life

To the Editor:

We appreciate the many thoughtful services the town and its dedicated employees and volunteers have provided this summer to our mom, Dr. Elizabeth Crandall. 

Mom’s close friend Marcia Meehan, who has been at Mom’s side all summer, has consistently reminded us of the town’s generosity. Many of you may know our mom, Liz, Ben Jones’ sister, who recently celebrated her 97th birthday at her home on Summerfield Place. Always a treasured summer retreat, it has never been so important as this year.

From March through June, Mom was quarantined without visitors in her small room at a New Jersey assisted living facility, without the chance to swim (her favorite pastime), which was forbidden. When she decided she wanted to go out to Shelter Island, it was not clear to us that she would be able to navigate her ancestral home in a wheelchair, or to get outside to sit on the porch, let alone to swim.

Thanks to all of you, Mom has accomplished all of these things. There are so many people to thank for large and small kindnesses, but several deserve special mention.

Bruce Jernick installed the portable ramp provided by the town allowing Mom to safely transport from her dining room to the porch. Getting outside on the porch has been heavenly! Bruce also installed grab bars and accessories at strategic locations, and readily shared his wealth of knowledge. (Keith Lewin, a Bruce referral, not only installed a second ramp, but also showed Marcia the proper way to utilize it.) Bruce’s workmanship was outstanding.

Laurie Fanelli, a great resource over the years, recommended the Beach Wheelchair two years ago, when Mom could no longer negotiate the stairs in front of our house. It may not look pretty when Mom heads out on the Beach Wheelchair but, thanks to lifeguards Sage, Aris, Frannie and Charles, she has been swimming and gaining back mobility.

So, thank you, Shelter Island, for caring about older residents and making sure they have access to resources greatly enhancing their quality of life.


Shelter Island

A citizen’s rights

To the Editor:

Here we are, still stuck in all the problems of 2020, and we have to worry about our residents’ yard signs being stolen again.

It’s disgusting.

More than that, it’s disrespectful of a citizen’s right to express themselves, as in “Freedom of Speech” guaranteed under our Constitution. It’s also a criminal act. A citizen has had their “Biden” sign stolen, not once, but twice, recently. They reported it to the police, which anyone subject to this type of criminal act should do.

This is not an act committed by kids or teenagers as a prank. It’s committed by insecure, nasty goons who are afraid of a true democratic process. Shelter Island doesn’t deserve this kind of behavior. We’re better than this.

If you witness someone stealing or vandalizing someone’s sign, call the police. Be a good neighbor. Protect and respect everyone’s right to express themselves and be respected in return.


Shelter Island

Power and responsibility

To the Editor:

As a retired power company employee (not New York) I understand the writer’s point of view (“Suffok Closeup: A losing strategy,” Aug. 27), but it’s a lot more complicated discussion than just this short opinion piece (led off by an unhelpful analogy), Let me be clear at the outset, this letter is not about excusing PSEG’s recent performance, but about the question of burying power lines as the way to prevent such long term, widespread outages.

We all agree that “reliability is the top priority.” With so much of our civilization literally hung on the power grid, nothing is even a close second. That said, of course cost matters. And you will find the cost very, very high. Probably high enough to force tradeoffs like slowing the greening of the power system, which includes the distributed power architecture of storage and small, customer-based generation, all of which can improve reliability, too. Are you ready for that discussion too?

Furthermore, let’s be clear that burying the grid also requires burying most of the communications grid as well, which is also carried by the same overhead system. (It’s why they were originally called “telephone poles”). That cost also needs to be factored in to the analysis and decision process.

But, yes, we should be looking at where burying the distribution system is cost effective in terms of its vulnerability. Power companies have that data if we and they are willing to look at it. We should, at the same time, be prepared to discuss what an “acceptable” frequency/incidence (likelihood) and length of outage is. Even a fully buried distribution system will not get you much higher (overall) reliability for several reasons. So, we are talking about increments here and it’s important to fully understand this.

At the same time, meaningful incremental reliability improvement can be achieved much more quickly and cheaply than by burying the entire system. Are we ready to talk about cutting down a much higher number of trees than we presently allow? Most of the outages we experience, and the columnist was writing about, are caused by storm-felled trees onto wires, not storm-felled power poles. That’s just the plain truth. As Casey Stengel used to say, “You could look it up.”


Shelter Island

Dering Harbor budget

To the Editor:

Mayor Morgan’s response to questions regarding budget passage in the article (“State audit faults Dering Harbor Boards,” Aug. 27) indicates a misunderstanding of the legislative process, demonstrating a belief that mayors can pass their own legislation unilaterally without input from counsel or a vote by the trustees. This is frowned upon as the House Speaker and Chief Justice remind us.

The mayor presents the budget. The board votes on it (after discussion) and decides whether to authorize an exception to the state required 2% budget cap. It is incumbent on the trustees to adopt legislation, followed by discussion and vote. The trustees — and counsel, Mr. Bruyn — knew the village had to exceed the 2% budget cap incorporating language into the budget resolution. I am uncertain why the trustees (including Ms. Morgan) and counsel chose not to finalize the language after discussion.

What is more difficult to understand is why the mayor’s signature does not appear on the official response to the state audit. (Mayor Morgan’s name is there but her signature is missing.) This indicates a disconnect between what the mayor believes or was told and what the village “budget officer” (Mr. Parcells) prepared for the state auditors.

When I discussed the village’s deliberate omission of the financial and budget reports — that I had prepared — with the state auditors, the auditors responded as follows: “Our audit findings in the audit report were based on the information and available documentation that we were provided by Village officials at the time of the audit.”

This statement contradicts the mayor’s claim in a letter to residents that “… all of the budget documents and work products, were made available to the auditors …” According to the state comptroller’s office, the mayor’s claim is not accurate.

By delegating budget authority to the trustees, the mayor put herself in the unfortunate position of not knowing what was presented to the state auditors. This in turn put her in the untenable position of defending the acts and omissions by the trustees (Benacerraf, Kelsey, Parcells, and Kelly) without full knowledge. It wasn’t fair for the trustees and “budget officer” to put the mayor in this position.

In any event, I want to thank Mayor Morgan for her time on the board, as deputy mayor (while I was mayor), and providing the audit report’s link to residents, wishing her and her family well in the future.


Shelter Island

A vote for mail-in voting

To the Editor:

Voting by mail should replace voting at the polls in its entirety.

The two institutions that can definitely be trusted is the County Board of Elections and the United States Postal Service. The money saved by eliminating the need for poll workers could be used to offer free postage on the envelopes used to vote by mail.

The person voting would also have more time to consider what they are voting for and would not be confined to the hours of the polling place. It would also prevent unwanted entry to schools and churches from anyone trying to harm someone.  

In addition, the voter would not be harassed by someone trying to place unsolicited campaign literature into their hand. The additional revenue would boost the Postal Service and perhaps keep it afloat until we as a country are able to vote online.

Voting by mail would solve the registered voter problem and guarantee safe passage of the ballots to the County Board of Elections.  It might even prevent further spread of the COVID-19 Virus.


Cleveland, Ohio