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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: July 22

West Neck Water

To the Editor:

I am writing as a 20-year customer of the West Neck Water District (WNWD) on whose board of directors I served. When WNWD was created, it was established by town referendum to be owned and operated by the customers. In my 20 years, the board stabilized the district finances and, under the direction of Manager John Hallman, began the process of upgrading the infrastructure, replacing years decaying distribution pipes and adding new wells. The board took its responsibilities seriously, reviewing every bill submitted for payment and making sure one of us was always available in an emergency.

Recently, Mr. Hallman announced his retirement and the WNWD Board was planning its next steps, many of which are mandated by the Suffolk County Health Department and other government agencies. It’s a challenge for a small, locally operated water company such as WNWD. However, “local” is no longer the operative word.

On Friday, July 9, the Town Board approved a resolution to authorize Supervisor Siller to sign an agreement with the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) to operate the system for the coming six months. (The SCWA is not to be confused with a government office. It’s an independent public benefit corporation not associated with Suffolk County at all.) The Town Board did this without notifying the customers and against the WNWD Board’s advice.

This agreement states that a significant fee and any costs associated with the SCWA and deemed necessary by them will be paid by the town (which will use money from the WNWD account.)   There is no indication that members of the WNWD Board will be involved at all.

The customers will be invited to attend the regular quarterly meeting of the WWND’s board on July 31 so they can voice their concerns. If their “concerns” matter, remains to be seen. Town Engineer Joe Finora is now the contact for anyone with questions about West Neck Water. All this is totally contrary to the town referendum.

Although I no longer live on Shelter Island, I didn’t spent 20 years of my life being daily involved with WNW to just walk away. I remain extremely concerned and worried about the future of the district at a time when it is facing some of the most serious problems in its history, those outlined in a presentation to the Town Board by the WNWD board on July 7.

ANN DUNBAR, New York City

West Neck Harbor

To the Editor:

West Neck Harbor has been a mecca for over 50 years for all types of water sports such as water skiing, wake-boarding, sailing, sailboarding and, most recently, kite-boarding. 

Not long ago, my husband was taking a friend water skiing and he was stopped by the bay constable and asked to relocate to Noyack Bay because someone in the anchorage area was complaining.

Now I read in the Reporter’s police blotter that someone anonymously complained about the kite-boarders and the kite-boarders were asked to relocate. Why are the people who are safely practicing their sport, as they have for many years, being asked to relocate rather than explaining to the complainant that this is what we do here, and if they don’t like it, there are many other anchorage areas and beautiful beaches on Shelter Island where they can relocate to? 

I very much enjoy watching the kite-boarders practice off Shell Beach, and I hope they return.

MARIE SWEENY, Shelter Island

An outrage

To the Editor:

I’m writing because my heart aches and I have a frustration I can no longer bear to keep inside.

A year ago my elderly mother, who has lived on Shelter Island for 26 years, was given a diagnosis of cancer. For the first time, she was someone who needed help.

For all my 50 years, she ‘s been giving to others. Making beautiful curtains and sewn items, baking, cooking and everything in between. She has a lot to share, since she holds a ton of talents in the palm of her hand (and makes a delightful peach cobbler as well).

A few months after her treatment ended, she decided to spread her talents and volunteered at the Garden Club of Shelter Island. We all thought this was a wonderful way for her to be active and keep her mind off the situation. When my mother puts her time and energy into something, it becomes exceptional and in this case again she didn’t let anyone down.

She took on a very physical role to clean up and plant a public part of the Island. She also asked for the help of local nurseries to donate plants. Much to her disappointment and frustration it turned into a drama that need not have happened. That was not the worst of it. After she and my elderly father spent two hours cleaning and turning the soil on this public plot to beautify the Island, someone had vandalized the space by cutting down all the mature grasses. This is an outrage and disgrace on the part of someone who has no heart in this quaint, bucolic community. This is a message to that person. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. When someone struggles and then tries to do good, some evil force comes and destroys it.

Plato said: “Societies are not made of sticks and stones, but of men whose individual characters, by turning the scale one way or another, determine the direction of the whole.”