Shelter Island editorials: Take a breath and cool down

The Town Board under the leadership of Supervisor Gerry Siller brought patience and intelligence in taking on the pandemic for more than a year. Board members were aided by residents willing to put differences aside and help one another, who knew they had strong leadership from Town Hall.

But on June 18, at a Board meeting, the admirable spirit of cooperation vanished as elected officials and the public showed frayed nerves in the wake of unrest and resignations that have rattled the community.

We witnessed understandable pent-up anger and frustration, but it’s vital to reach for the spirit of cooperation to tackle serious issues — the Comprehensive Plan, the need to deal with water quality and, yes, affordable housing. Those issues should not be battlegrounds, but opportunities for respectful and productive conversations.

The Town Board and the public are on overload, but anger doesn’t solve problems. It exacerbates the tension, ratchets up harsh rhetoric and prevents any sense of compromise.

The atmosphere at the Board meeting on June 18 was sour, antagonistic and resentful.

Also, not everything residents said was correct. But the Board’s response lacked the thoughtful approach to governing that has been a mark of this administration. What was needed then and needed now is to respond with patience and a willingness to let people know they’ve been heard. It’s essential to say you are listening and appreciate the input and you will give some honest thought to what people are saying.

Instead, Mr. Siller’s temper flared and his colleagues remained silent. You are all better than that, as you have demonstrated throughout more than a year of coping with a deadly pandemic that, thanks to your leadership, became manageable on the Island.

After so many months of a health crisis, capped by the explosive rhetoric of the past few weeks, everyone needs to cool down and restart conversations.

Thoughtful responses are necessary to be productive. The priority should be to work for the betterment of the community. It’s time to hit the reset button.

The great race

One of the best, most rewarding and encouraging days for Shelter Island in a long time was Saturday, June 19, when the 42nd Annual 10K went off from Wilson Circle.

Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating fully, with hot, sultry, sticky weather, but it didn’t matter. There was no Friday night pasta-loading party at the traditional communal dinner, no pre-race events for kids or stretching classes, and that didn’t matter either. The Island’s great race went off at 5 p.m., and joyous runners started out on the Island’s beautiful course for 6.2 miles.

Thank you to everyone who made it happen, especially to Race Director Mary Ellen Adipietro, who kept the faith, and rewarded the Island with a day to remember.