Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Oct: 29 -Nov. 4

From the supervisor

To the Editor:

I’m writing this before Election Day. I’ve often thought of putting my thoughts on paper, but have resisted. Today, while driving home, I noticed that every Biden sign between Town Hall and my house (approximately 10 signs) were missing. This was the straw that, while not breaking my back, did give me the impetus to write.

Maybe living on Shelter Island, and raising my family here, has given me a distorted view of society. I honestly believed that national issues of animosity, hostility and hatred were things of the past. I believed that we had moved forward as a nation. The last four years have proven just how wrong I was.

Forget about the actual politics. Whatever policies that were abandoned, repealed or instituted will work themselves out in the long run. The much bigger concern is the current state of our country. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say it’s extremely difficult to be a proud American today. Like it or not, the current administration has put our democracy on a course towards self-destruction. America is, at best, disrespected, if not outright despised, worldwide. We’ve alienated ourselves from the majority of our allies.

What disturbs me most, however, is the outright civil unrest going on. What’s always made America great has been our ability to work together — liberals, conservatives and everyone in between. Today, there’s no middle ground, everything is us vs. them. Hatred seems to be the norm. Blind loyalty, untruths, lack of compassion are also the norm.

As I said, I’m writing this before the election. I believe if Joe Biden wins, it will take America a number of years to regain our previous status worldwide. It will also take some time to regain our composure on the home front, to truly be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I don’t know what to think if Donald Trump wins. I can’t understand how we got ourselves into the position we’re in today. I fear for my children and grandchildren, as well as future generations. I don’t see anything good coming out of another four years under Donald Trump, especially if the past four years have set the tone. We could be headed onto a terribly dark path.

I wish I had answers instead of concerns.

Abraham Lincoln said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Truer words were never spoken, now, more than ever.


Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island

The town’s responsibility to us all

To the Editor:

I understand it’s a tough year due to COVID-19 and that we all must tighten our belts.

The Shelter Island Historical Society (SIHS) has also experienced unheard-of financial loss during this time: forced to close; cancel all activities; halt fundraising. Yet, a record number of residents spent their quarantine time researching Shelter Island. Unable to accommodate people in the History Center, the limited staff and designated volunteers researched and shared the information requested. 

$15,000 may seem like a drop in the bucket for some — but not for this organization.  A loss of $10,000 will be seriously felt. Prior Town Boards recognized the value of preserving community history by establishing the ongoing expense. The 2009 Comprehensive Plan recommended support of SIHS as the “keeper of Town History.”

The Society’s work not only protects the past, but documents the present. 2020 has been a particularly historic year. The organization worked to document how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted our community. They worked with the school to record and collect student and teacher reflections, interviewed businesspeople to record its impact on them, collected photos, personal writings and articles.

They documented the Black Lives Matter rally and have audio of all the speeches. They documented the controversy over the school mascot and are working to provide educational materials to tell the story of the Manhansetts to today’s generation — and tomorrow’s. Yes, much of this work is done by volunteers, but it still costs money. 

The “Town” is everybody and everything that exists within our boundaries. The $15,000 commitment is not a gift, donation or even a bill to be paid. It is a commitment to make sure future generations can look back and discover who we are. How we developed from Manhansac-aha-quash-awamock to a sugar merchant’s private island, to a fishing community, to a resort community. How we were one of the first communities to write our own Declaration of Independence. How we faced down the pandemic of 2020. How the children of 2020 had to face challenges just to go to school, or to Trick or Treat.  These stories are all part of our history. And it is our leaders’ responsibility to help preserve them for our community and for future generations.

Let them know!


Shelter Island

Editor’s note: Ms. Gooding is a member of the Board of Directors of the Historical Society

Yard sales

To the Editor:

According to a conversation I had with Supervisor Siller, there are three homeowners who complain about my yard. All this fuss for three people.

He said their complaints are so constant it seems like more. These three, with Jimmy Colligan as their champion and Siller on board, have led to the proposed yard sale regulation. Colligan has for years tried to get this restriction in place, but Supervisor Dougherty was not buying in and Paul Shepherd was on the board as the voice of reason and wisdom. Shepherd is no longer on the board. Siller is tight with Colligan, in my opinion.

Steve Koller has it right when he points out that there are far worse, even dangerous things going on than multiple yard sales:

1. The use of poisonous pesticides, cancer-causing weed killers and fertilizers which leech into the aquifer and well water. Breast cancer is higher on Long Island than anywhere in the U.S. The average green lawn uses weed killers and fertilizer equal to 60 acres of farmland. All in the name of tidiness.

2. Noise and pollution from overuse of fossil fuel powering blowers, mowers, mulchers, etc. Noise does not obey property boundaries. Nor does air pollution.

3 Light pollution. Some people light their yards as if an aircraft may need to land there. Very bright and all night, detracting from neighbors’ ability to enjoy the night sky and shining in windows. There are those who like Christmas lights on all year, light extending beyond property boundaries, and dulling our view of twinkling stars and wasting energy unnecessarily. I may not like it, but I believe in personal freedom.

4. The opioid addiction and deaths from drug use.

5  The COVID-19 Pandemic.

These are things that extend beyond property lines and into the space of your neighbors. Some are dangerous and permanently affect our well-being. Some can be controlled, some not, but all need attention.

Much more important than a messy yard or a yard sale. Too many yard sales is a rather victimless crime. Tag sales are environmentally beneficial, encouraging reuse. Reuse is a green philosophy. Reuse rather than create garbage.

I have wonderful conversations with residents and visitors alike who love my extraordinary stuff. Several years ago a neighbor came to warn me that a lawyer from New Jersey who has a house here was trying to circulate a petition against me. No one would sign it.

Several women have mentioned they bought a dress from me that’s still their favorite. More than one resident has commented “So old Shelter Island, I love it!”

Just look the other way. And count your blessings.


Shelter Island

The common good

To the Editor:

Halloween was celebrated in the true Shelter Island tradition. An all-out community happening, a perfect day and everyone involved is to be congratulated that made this special Halloween happen (see story page 19). Young and old, we all needed to see the excitement on the kids’ faces. And the smiles on the parents’ faces. It was a pleasure to have participated.

In the interest of trying to keep tradition alive, although it seems that is a “no, no” these days, I had my Ham Dinner on Monday night and then a hot dog and clam chowder for lunch on Tuesday and I understand that this was also served at a few of our local eateries.

I tried to attempt to be somewhat normal.

A favor to ask: Please do a full investigative report on the Recycling Center incident (“Town investigating confrontation at Recycling Center,” Oct. 29). It is terribly disturbing that our essential workers should be called to task regarding their political stance. And by an elected official, no less.

Regardless of who our president is, whether Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden, could we please stand united and work together for the common good? Election Day 2020 is over. The pandemic looms. Let’s use some common sense, some common courtesy, some compassion, and make some good choices as we all attempt to do what is right for all with faith, hope and charity.

Again, this Halloween past was the doorway to the holidays, and hopefully has set a pattern for the holidays to come that are going to be a bit unusual and likely to be very creative. It will take an island of determined individuals.

Be well, stay safe and mask up.


Shelter Island