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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: April 7, 2022

Despite best intentions

Letter to the Editor:

To avoid wasting its and the public’s time, and to reduce the risk of litigation, the Town Board should give greater priority to determining whether a seemingly good idea is legal before debating the merits of the idea. Various uses of Community Preservation Fund (CPF) property provide examples.

During the discussion of the proposal to use the airfield for a wastewater treatment facility at the CPF’s Feb. 7, 2022 meeting, I stated that State law appears to prohibit the non-recreational use of CPF property. In particular, Town Law Section 64-e (c) states that improvements to open spaces are limited to “enhancing access for passive use … such as nature trails, boardwalks, bicycle paths, and peripheral parking areas provided that such improvements do not degrade the ecological value of the land or threaten essential wildlife habitat.”

The following week, a Town Board member advanced a different view, but conceded that she had not consulted with the Town Attorney.

Not having heard anything further, on March 9, 2022, I invited the Town Attorney to discuss the issue with me after he had reviewed it. I noted that the issue now also relates to proposals to use CPF property in connection with oyster cultivation and for a for-profit education program.

Despite my raising the issue yet again at the March 29 Town Board work session and in a subsequent message to the comprehensive plan group and various other Town officials, there is no indication when, or even if, this fundamental issue will be addressed.

The best of intentions does not justify violations of State (or other) law. In the absence of a convincing legal explanation for why CPF property can be used for anything other than passive recreational purposes, other land must be found for the necessary and/or laudable endeavors referenced above.

STEPHEN JACOBS, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

I just wanted to post that I read with joy and nostalgia Susan Carey Dempsey’s story about Charles Entenmann (“Emergency rations,” March 24) and his famous crumb cake, a staple in our house as well — even down to leaving the knife in the box.

I had no idea that was a thing for other families as well. We lived just up the road from the Carey Westmoreland estate also in a house with a name, Bushrose, on the West Neck property developed by old-time gardener, Luigi (Papa) Paloantonio. 

In the 1930s and 40s he was the master gardener to the beautiful estates along Nostrand Parkway, each with his signature green house in which to grow seedlings in time for spring planting, and welcome owners back to the Island.

We still enjoy our house when we can get to the Island. Thank you, Susan, for a lovely memory.