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Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Thank you, Gordon Gooding

There is arguably no greater protector of preserved land on the Island than Gordon Gooding, the longtime chairman of the Town’s Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board.

When discussions arose about the possibility of using part of the protected Klenawicus Airfield for a system to treat liquid wastes that could be piped from the Center, Mr. Gooding led the opposition to Town government, aided by residents and this newspaper.

Now, with the acquisition of 20.1 acres of land between South Menantic Road and West Neck Creek comes praise for Mr. Gooding’s work in rescuing the all-but-dead deal. (See story: Shelter Island and County preserve a 20-acre parcel of exceptional beauty.)

The White family that generously agreed to sell the property for preservation could have made a lot more money dividing up the parcels and selling them to developers who could have built houses on them.

The highest praise for Mr. Gooding’s efforts came from a lawyer married to a member of the White family who entered into the agreement to sell the lots to the Town and Suffolk County. William Freyvogel told the Town Board at the July 26 meeting at which the deal was approved that credit goes to Mr. Gooding for his perseverance. “You brought this deal back from the dead,” Mr. Freyvogel told Mr. Gooding.

Supervisor Gerry Siller said the Town Board brought the deal about half a percent of the way home but it was Mr. Gooding who brought it 99.5%  to completion. Councilman Jim Colligan estimated the new acquisition, together with the Mashomack Preserve, Sylvester Manor and other land purchased with Community Preservation Funds, means about 32% of the Island has been kept from development.

Under his leadership, Mr. Gordon has led the CPF to create management plans for the properties to stay secure from development. For his part, he has expressed support for a suggestion from Senior Services Director Laurie Fanelli to create a senior recreation area, most likely to be sited at the West Neck Preserve.

It would provide gentle exercise for the Island’s oldest residents with safe walking paths and equipment if they are wheelchair-bound. Town residents and visitors owe a big thanks to Mr. Gooding, and past and present CPF members, for maintaining much of the natural beauty that makes Shelter Island special.