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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Oct. 21, 2021


To the Editor:

Transparency, noun.

• The characteristic of being easy to see through.

• The quality of being done in an open way without secrets.

Transparency in government.

• A situation in which business and financial activities are done in an open way without secrets, so that people can trust that they are fair and honest.

Apparently the biggest opposition to my administration has to do with my perceived lack of transparency. For the record, I would like to state that any issue involving the Town of Shelter Island is discussed in a public forum, or numerous public forums, before being acted upon.

Does that mean every issue is brought to the public from the moment it is conceived? Of course not. One thing I learned from my previous 10 years on the School Board, as well as my previous two terms as supervisor, is that you need to have a well thought-out plan to present to the public before you make it public.

No secret meetings take place, no backroom deals are made. I would like to think that when I present something to the Town Board and the public, I am presenting something that can be readily understood and be open for discussion.

I would also remind those opponents that “good leaders lead by their actions, while politicians like to talk about things ad nauseam.”


Supervisor, Town of Shelter Island

Call for a write-in

To the Editor:

When I was a kid growing up on the Island in the summers of the late 1960s and early 1970s, I had tons of friends. I didn’t know whose family had a lot of money and whose didn’t because it didn’t really matter. We all got along regardless, and we all had a great time.

That’s the biggest change I’ve seen on the Island since then: our island, as with the whole country, seems more divided each passing day. We seem to be focusing on differences in economic status or political beliefs or social causes rather than looking at the common beliefs that can unite us as a community, such as the importance of our water resources, our children’s future, and the unique small-town feel of Shelter Island.

I can’t unite the country, but I do feeI I can help bring a sense of civility and unity of purpose back to the Town Board and among our residents. That means listening to and considering differences of opinion, exploring options and engaging in open dialogue.

If you would like to see our community work and play together while maintaining respect for each other — in spite of our individual differences — please consider writing my name in for supervisor on Nov. 2 (please make sure you spell my last name correctly and use my middle initial).


Shelter Island

Asking for your vote

To the Editor:

My first job here was putting the Sunday papers together early in the morning at Carol’s Luncheonette. She paid me fairly and fed me my first sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. My hands were black from the ink after each shift, a small price to pay to learn the value of hard work. 

I was raised on this island, graduated from high school on this island, met my wife and got married on this island and am now raising my children on this island. As it is with many of you, this island is a part of me.

I am asking for your vote this Nov. 2 so we can work together to build upon our common love for this island as we work through our challenges while embracing our opportunities to build a Shelter Island for all, forever.

We have the best resource a community can ask for — involved, passionate and caring neighbors who eagerly step up and pitch in to help one another. I am grateful every day to have the ability to live on Shelter Island and do my part. We, for sure, are the lucky ones.

Let’s get to work, together.


Shelter Island

Love affair

To the Editor:

My name is Barbara Jean (BJ) Ianfolla and I am running for the seat vacated by Mike Bebon on the Town Board.

My favorite question to ask anyone I meet on Shelter Island: How did you wash up on this island? Many years of asking this question and I can say that almost everyone’s origin story includes the word “love.” As in: “We came for a wedding or a quick weekend away and fell in love,” or, “I grew up here and I never fell more in love with anywhere else.”

When you stop and think about it, don’t you think this is unique? I grew up, for the most part, in Northport on the “big island.” Beautiful. Good schools. Quaint downtown. But love? Not so much.

I finished high school in Southern California when my mother moved there and, trust me, I never heard anyone say that they loved LA  — like, yes, great weather, sure, but no love.

Denver, Providence, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Hudson Valley, all of them were stops on my journey, but Shelter Island is the only place that elicits love. The reason is the ineffable sense of community that permeates from the harelegger to newcomer.

I will partner with all Islanders to save this special Islandness.


Shelter Island

Town’s integrity

To the Editor:

I want to take the time to address the community over a concern about an accusation of a potential conflict of interest.

In my case, the reference is being made to the fact that my business is installing nitrogen-reducing septic systems. There is a misconception that I am the only game in town, and that’s just not the case. We are one installer who installs one type of system. There are five county-approved manufacturers of I/A OWTS with seven different models and designs to choose from. There are 22 county-approved installers of I/A OWTS and 12 of them have worked/are working on the Island.

Pricing for installations is regulated and approved by the county for all grant-funded projects. There are currently three different types of systems being used on Shelter Island, not counting the proprietary system at Sylvester Manor.

People have options. Should a situation on the Town Board arise, where there would be a potential conflict of interest, I would recuse myself, just as I would expect any candidate to respect the town’s integrity and do the same.


Shelter Island

Ms. Larsen is a candidate for a seat on the Town Board.

Service to the Island

To the Editor:

Shelter Island is a love story for me. I spent every summer on Shelter Island starting when I was 17 and in college and was so excited to get on that bus or train in June and come out to visit my family, knowing this island would be home for the summer.

By the time college was over, I had met and fallen in love with my future husband and part of our bond was knowing we were going to settle and build a life on Shelter Island.

Between the fresh greenery in late spring, and the endless views once the foliage is down, the natural beauty of Shelter Island is something special. What keeps us here, though, is the sense of community. Something I hadn’t experienced before. My husband Billy had grown up on the Island but I was new and had a funny little accent, yet everyone welcomed me with graciousness and open arms. Our son Marcus is now almost two and already handing out water bottles to runners in the 10K Run.

We owe Shelter Island a great deal. Our home is here, our family is here, and our future is here. My life here has always tried to include community service. I entered this race to become Town Clerk because my friends and people who knew me encouraged me to apply my experience with technology, customer service and business to my experience working within the Town. I wanted to bring fresh ideas in service of making the Town and clerk’s office just a little more accessible for everyone. Just a little more cost effective. Just a little more future-proof and secure. See, technology has been a powerful bridge in my life, connecting me and my family here to my close family abroad in Europe, and I wanted to use this experience to help make Islanders’ life just a little easier.

I am asking you to evaluate me by my ideas and my dedication to service, and to consider voting for me on Nov. 2. I would be so humbled and honored to be your next Town Clerk and will work tirelessly to provide the best possible service to all Islanders and to the Town.


Shelter Island

One purpose

To the Editor:

This letter is for one purpose only — you must vote.

This is a completely different town now. When I first came to Shelter Island in 1975 from New York City, Shelter Island was a self-sufficient town which understood and was responsive to its inhabitants’ needs.

Now, voters vote blindly for people they do not care about or even know. It is just the letter “D” or “R” that guides their vote.

You must remember that on the Shelter Island of the past, elections were decided sometimes by a single vote.

This means that, even in those years, people had differences of opinion, and that was fine because the bulk of the electorate was motivated by specific things that were specific to the candidates; that their vote was close was because they had weighed different aspects of the candidates. But they voted for the candidate who they felt was the best equipped for the job, not because of the party of the candidate.

The bottom line, again, is times have changed — the town is different.

Please make certain that you vote. Do not assume that the election will turn out the way you want — it may not.


Shelter Island

My watch

To the Editor:

It is my understanding that the Town Board and the supervisor intend to proceed to rezone parts of the Island where commercial businesses are located in residential areas and to also allow the construction and development of commercial businesses in residentially zoned areas. This is unacceptable.

At the outset there is no Comprehensive Plan. To go ahead without the information that a Comprehensive Plan would provide could be dangerous to our island and foolhardy. The supervisor and Town Board are stewards of this island. It is on their watch that they intend to take measures that could have a profoundly negative impact on the quality of our life as we enjoy it now.

If businesses grandfathered into AA zoned areas could expand and conduct business without first getting approval for changes as they do now there would be no stopgap process for monitoring the impact on the surrounding residential areas. There must be some transparency in the process. The community must be allowed a say in such critical changes in our zoning laws. Commercial properties such as hotels and restaurants place great demands on our water and contribute waste discharge into our bays and aquifer.

Gardiner’s Bay Country Club had submitted a proposal for housing and 40-plus additional apartments in a residentially zoned area. This should be addressed to the community that would be affected and to the Island as a whole.

I live in Montclair Colony and our area is near shore with a fragile aquifer. To allow the development of additional commercial business and buildings in our residentially zoned community would destroy our resources. Homeowners and residents must have a voice in these matters.

It would be beyond sad to look back 20 years from now and regret the changes that we make today. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll do everything I can to prevent such an occurrence on my watch.


Shelter Island

The supervisor has been given the opportunity to respond to this letter in next week’s edition.


To the Editor:

When I joined the Community Housing Board, I assumed its goal was to discharge the Town’s municipal responsibility to ensure the 24/7 availability of volunteer fire department and EMS personnel. For that reason, at my first CHB meeting on May 27, I applauded two proposed housing projects for those critical workers.

But that’s not what this housing debate is about. Rather, it’s all about what CHB Chairman Cris DiOrio told Newsday last month, “I think that people like me that really love this place and work hard and want to be here deserve to be here.”

Think about that. All he has to do is “want” to be here and — presto — he “deserves” to be here, a dog whistle that homeowners on Shelter Island should be forced to help him buy a house here.

Even in A and AA residential housing zones, which is why Supervisor Siller wants to institute “overlay districts” (i.e., spot-zoning) which will override A and AA zoning and density restrictions. 

The passage of the Peconic Affordable Housing Act, which will raise the transfer tax on most Island houses from 2% to 2.5% (a 25% increase), will put millions of dollars at Supervisor Siller’s disposal to build high density housing in your neighborhood.

Public housing could entail a corruption we’ve never seen here; politicians handing out housing subsidies to their friends, like-minded committee members, or anyone who will vote for them.

But only if the voters allow it. Voting “NO” on the coming referendum would be a huge boon for Shelter Island.

First: Without the new tax, Supervisor Siller will be unable to build high density housing in A and AA residential neighborhoods. We already have a plan to build fire and EMS housing on two Town-owned sites near the Center and the supervisor has already stated we can build them without raising taxes.

Second: If other East End towns vote to approve the tax on their residents, they will raise, according to Assemblyman Thiele, over $30 million per year to build affordable housing, solving Shelter Island’s worker housing needs without threatening our water quality.

The bottom line: Voting “NO” means adequate affordable housing that will cost Shelter Island residents nothing, protecting our water; keeping our Town Board from using our money to make costly mistakes; preventing potential corruption; and keeping our property taxes low, so we don’t lose our homes when we retire.


Shelter Island

Ban the leaf blowers

To the Editor:

It is past time to end the commercial use of gas-powered lawn and hedge equipment on Shelter Island.

The terrible noise factor going on day after day throughout the spring and summer is only exasperated by the negative environmental impact. Fact: “The amount of CO [carbon monoxide] emitted from a typical backpack leave blower for just one hour is equal to CO coming from the tailpipe of a current year automobile operating for over 8 hours” Source: NY Department of Environmental Conservation (https://isgd/Y5KEhx).

East Hampton, Southampton, Bronxville and many others have, or are considering such limitations. Bellport is currently in the process of petitioning the city for a similar ban.

I’d like to hear the opinion of each of the current slate of candidates, as well as current office holders, on this subject.


Shelter Island

What we have

To the Editor:

Every now and then I just have to quote someone for my real estate ads and in my letters to this editor but this week, I quote myself: “There is no place in the world where you can be so well entertained for free as you can be on Shelter Island.”

Once again our resident, award-winning cartoonist and local artist, along with his thespian crew, provided the library with great free entertainment. Kudos to all those involved.

The League of Women Voters also deserve kudos for their candidates forum. Well done, ladies. I’m glad to see the affordable housing situation is now being addressed as “Community Housing” and there will be funds available to create such — all available due to the land preservation tax fund. Welcome new neighbors, and thank you. Let’s get the show on the road. The sooner the better.

Told Tom and Tillie Osprey they could stay another month and enjoy the best time on Shelter Island. They left anyway. I must admit they have missed a fabulous Indian Summer, one I have not witnessed for a long time. My butterfly bush refuses to stop blooming and there are many small butterflies, along with two Monarchs that are here daily.

SICC plays GBCC, Lion’s Club Scallop Dinner, Halloween, St. Mary’s Election Eve Ham Dinner (space limited so call for reservations now), Election Day next day and lunch at the Presbyterian Church. Not all free, but quite entertaining!!!

When we go to vote we need to think about what we have and what we might get. Sharpen your pencils!


Shelter Island