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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: May 12, 2022

EDITOR’S NOTE: We direct those submitting letters to the editor to the lower right column of our letters page in our print editions, where we state our letters policy, especially the sentence: Repetitive letters from the same author will be edited.

New policy for South Ferry

To the Editor:

In order to ensure the South Ferry Resident 10 Round Trip Ticket is only used by Island residents, it has become necessary to modify the policies for purchasing this ticket. 

Effective May 15, 2022, the following will be in effect to purchase a South Ferry 10 Round Trip Resident Ticket:

• Ticket will be a 10 Round Trip card.

• The 20 One Way card will be discontinued.

• All owners of Shelter Island residential property may purchase a Resident Ticket.

• Renters with a written lease of 10 months or longer may purchase a Resident Ticket.

• Owners/occupants of LLCs, Trusts or other such properties may purchase the ticket only if their name is on the deed or if they have a Shelter Island driver’s license or are a registered Shelter Island voter. 

• Return duplex ticket will only be issued when Resident Ticket is used leaving Shelter Island

Resident Ticket may be used as a one way coming from North Haven — return duplex ticket will NOT be issued.

• One replacement ticket may be purchased every 10 days.

• Replacement ticket may only be purchased when at least 80% of previous ticket has been used.

• Without proof previous ticket is 80% used, one must wait 30 days for next purchase.

• Companies with corporate headquarters on Shelter Island may purchase discounted Resident Truck books

The new policies are needed to stop the use of these deeply discounted, non-transferable tickets by non-residents such as service providers, house guests, short-term renters and non-resident family members. We sincerely hope this will not create a hardship on authorized Island residents for whom this ticket was created. Please contact me at 631-749-1200 if you feel you have a unique situation that makes these changes unreasonably burdensome.

The current revenue loss due to abuses is significant. A single round trip via a Resident Ticket is $6.50. All passengers ride free.

By comparison, a single round trip via the general public 10 Round Trip ticket is $12.00 plus $3 for each extra passenger. The single round trip cash fare is $20 plus $3 per extra passenger. It adds up rapidly.

We must protect the cost of this precious ticket. I appeal to all Island residents who ride with South Ferry to use it only as intended. It is non-transferable. It is only for people who live on Shelter Island, and who depend on the ferries to access goods and services not available here. It is for people for whom Shelter Island really is “Home.”

CLIFF CLark, President, South Ferry

Shelter Island’s got talent

To the Editor:

Kudos to everyone involved in the Shelter Island High School’s performance of “Matilda!” The production was delightful and seamlessly presented. It was an example of a community of very talented people coming together to support and nourish each other, and in so doing, bringing an evening of entertainment, joy and pride to the entire Island. Our sincerest praise and thanks to you all.



To the Editor:

I didn’t check the Hall of Fame wall in the school but if the Kaasik’s, John and Anu, are not in it, that would be a big mistake. They’ve brought so much joy to so many for so many years. “Matilda” was another star performance by the children of Shelter Island.

I’m amazed every year at how much they get out of these young folks with acting, singing, organizing and preparing. They take a lot of hard work and put it together for the one final blast.

I grew up in a fairly large school in Long Branch, N.J. that had a drama club. It was nothing like the amount of work we put into our performances. The whole town is part of this show.

I just want to say, “Thank You,” to all involved in making last Friday night such a pleasant evening. Children, I could never do what you did. You had so many lines and you delivered them without a problem.

I will definitely be there again next year.

BOB DESTEFANO, Shelter Island

Stick with the plan

To the Editor:

Before any more major decisions are made on Shelter Island for use of land and protocol of projects, might I suggest you look into the description of a comprehensive plan.

A comprehensive plan is a guide to the future for towns and villages.

A comprehensive plan is a long-range plan that captures a vision of where the community wants to be at some point in the future. The term comprehensive suggests it’s an all-inclusive approach to analyzing and evaluating the future growth of a community. At minimum, a comprehensive plan provides guidance for the physical development of a community, which emphasizes the future use of land sustainability and resilience; a plan for public facilities, parks, open space, recreation trails; economic development; housing; and neighborhoods.

Let’s not piecemeal the future of Shelter Island. Let’s plan well, and possibly better than the past.


Questions on septic treatment plant

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the proposed wastewater treatment plant at 16 Manwaring Road. There has been a massive lack of transparency regarding this issue, and a seeming obfuscation of the facts. There are questions that need to be addressed, such as:

Why did the Reporter’s April 28, 2022 article state that the closest neighbor to 16 Manwaring Road is Sylvester Manor? This is not accurate. The closest neighbors are the properties immediately adjacent to 16 Manwaring Road. Sylvester Manor is located across the street.

Why did the article fail to mention that the decision to select a lot with room for expansion of the plant is primarily to accommodate the eventual inclusion of Sylvester Manor into the system? This seems highly relevant.

I live at one of the adjacent properties, and have many concerns and questions about the installation of this plant.

Why weren’t the neighbors in the surrounding area notified of this proposition? This plant could have a huge impact on our environment, water, health and the value of our properties. It’s unacceptable that we weren’t notified prior to the work sessions where the Board brought this to the agenda. Furthermore, Town meetings scheduled for 1 p.m. are not inclusive to most people.

How can this matter be properly assessed when it is being rushed through? This is an expensive undertaking with many possible repercussions and  deserves deep consideration, thoughtful planning and ample time for public comment.

Why is the town relying on the person selling the system to vouch for its safety and efficacy? His incentives are aligned with profitability, not our best interests. There should be better input.

Why is the town willing to destroy the woodlands that exist at 16 Manwaring Road? This area is a wildlife corridor, with a nature trail linking the Nursery Woodlands to Sylvester Manor. Shelter Island has already been over-developed and our community is currently experiencing unprecedented change. Our remaining woodlands are not expendable or replaceable, and should not be heedlessly destroyed.

ERICA LASPIA, Shelter Island

Supportive, but concerned

To the Editor:

It’s great to see the attention given to the initiatives in motion to address the affordable housing problem on Shelter Island, but I am super concerned by the tone of some of the advocates.

The article mentions the goal of the Community Housing Board and the CHFAB is to create an open forum for addressing real concerns about the implications of funding the construction of new affordable housing, yet speakers as well as letter writers continue to level ad hominem attacks at those who express concerns about density, water or other growth-related issues, accusing them of intolerance, racism, or a lack of compassion. It’s frustrating, and it does not encourage honest dialogue. And it could cause proponents to lose any related ballot issues.

There is no doubt Shelter Island is an expensive place to live. And I do agree diversity makes a community stronger. But it’s wrong to conflate the fact that the reason long-time residents are selling is due to a lack of affordable alternatives. They are, in many cases, wisely selling long-held real estate for very high prices that give them financial freedom. To then say, as one letter writer did, that it’s not fair that they can then no longer purchase another house on the Island is silly. They are choosing to sell at a very high market value. 

Density and water remain critical issues on the Island, and it is not intolerant nor is it classist for Island property owners to be concerned about these issues when considering whether our tax or land trust transaction money should be used to fund further growth. 

As an Island resident, I am broadly supportive of the ideas currently being discussed. But I will not hesitate to vote against any initiatives that are not clearly explained, and that do not put to rest my concerns about the issues above. And I’d prefer to have these issues surface without fear of being accused of being a NIMBY, class-conscious elite. I love the projects in East Hampton, and would gladly support modestly-scaled, well-designed initiatives on our island. But if I feel my concerns are being dismissed or derided, I will not hesitate to not only vote against them, but advocate for my point of view loudly on the Island. 

CHRIS ENGLE, Shelter Island

No to affordables

To the Editor:

Given the response to my letter to the editor last week, it seems the proponents of so-called “affordable” housing are circling the wagons. Indeed, Supervisor Siller’s own administrative assistant, and unsuccessful candidate for town clerk, stepped forward as a new spokesperson for a movement that will only bring ruin to the Island. I’m “shocked, shocked,” that somebody would criticize their good intentions.

It wasn’t a personal attack, but a criticism of ideas. But good intentions often don’t make good policy. The explosive growth that high density government subsidized housing would bring to this island is absolutely bad policy.

Can’t these people connect the dots between clean drinking water and overcrowding, which draws more water from our thin aquifers, leaving us with worse problems to solve?

Greenport, Southold and Mattituck each have adequate water supplies and waste management infrastructure to support many new units of affordable housing. So, why are we being asked to subsidize housing for those who want to reduce their commute time to work? The boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx all have one thing in common. Thousands of those residents commute to work in Manhattan every day. They go by subway, bus, train and ferry for one-way trips of an hour to 90 minutes.  Many would prefer to live in Manhattan but economic reality prevents this so they live in the outer boroughs. The East End is no different.

Some businesses on the island take extraordinary measures to help their employees with housing.  Why should taxpayers subsidize their competitors with housing subsidies for their workers?

Of course, it’s O.K  to build four or five units of housing to ensure that EMS and Fire Department volunteers can live on the island and be nearby when they are needed. The town does not need a referendum to do that. That’s not what this fight is about.

It’s about keeping Supervisor Siller from getting millions of dollars to spend on unfair and damaging high density housing in multiple neighborhoods. He controls the zoning code. If we hand him that money, you can be sure he will spend every penny.

JOLANTA ZONCA, Shelter Island

No one helped me

To the Editor:

In reading the letter to the editor by Jolanta Zonca (“Fair or unfair?” April 28), who absolutely recognized the “sense of entitlement” that proponents of “affordable housing” have displayed, her observations resonated strongly with me and friends, both Democrats and Republicans, who simply want to preserve this Island. Why should a small cabal of noise makers be allowed to redefine “community” and take over this island to change it forever?

It should be no surprise that most of the people who attended the recent housing discussion were vocal members of the two housing boards, employees and individuals with vested interest all waiting for crumbs from the “free-stuff” trough. These people do not represent the vast majority of Island residents. Most people do not believe the Town should raise taxes to provide housing that other people can’t afford simply because they think they “deserve” it. Where were my handouts when I couldn’t afford my first home? Nowhere. I had to wait and work hard and earn my first home as did most of the people owning homes on this island. I didn’t even think of asking for someone else to subsidize or provide my first home.

We are not fooled by the megaphone this newspaper is giving them with front page articles, editorials, and puff profiles of the so-called leaders of this group.  

No amount of propaganda will overcome common sense and obvious Banana Republic behavior. Cheap high-density housing piled en masse ala Co-op City will stress our fragile aquifers and rape our precious island. 

Giving the Town Board access to millions of dollars to buy up vacant land all over the Island to build low-cost apartment houses would be the biggest misuse of our funds ever. The November referendum to raise these taxes for their “free stuff” must be defeated or this island will never be the same.

BETH VAN DER EEMS, Shelter Island

Editor’s note: Affordable housing is one of the two most critical issues facing Islanders; it would be a dereliction of duty not to place articles on the issue on the front page.


To the Editor:

There are infinite reasons why we love being part of the Shelter Island community. Today we say thank you to David, Kathryn and Dave Klenawicus for generously offering to share their lilacs with the community in honor of Mother’s Day. In the blustery rain last Saturday, we headed over and gratefully accepted their offer to pick a bouquet of lilacs. They filled our home with beauty, color and perfume and, most importantly, their generous hearts.