Featured Story

Shelter Island Reporter Letters To The Editor: Aug. 4, 2022

Barbecue party at Legion

To the Editor:

The members of Mitchell Post #281 are excited to announce the second annual American Legion BBQ Cookoff on Aug. 27 at 6 p.m.

This event will also serve as our Centennial celebration as we mark our 100th year since the founding of Mitchell Post. If you would like to compete and put your BBQ skills to the test, please submit your team name and roster to our email below. Teams are limited and assigned on a first-come basis.

Meal tickets may be purchased at the event, located at 1 Bateman Road, for $35. Meal tickets are limited and include multiple samplings of delicious BBQ, sides, water, and a voting ballot.

Additional refreshments can be purchased downstairs at the Legion bar. Live music will begin downstairs at 8 p.m. with a $10 cover charge.

All profits go to Mitchell Post #281 and support its mission of providing service to active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans, their families, and the community. Questions may be directed to [email protected] We look forward to seeing you!


Answering questions

To the Editor:

I’m writing to help answer some of Mr. Bindler and Mr. Koller’s questions. I’d like to refer my fellow residents to the Community Housing Fund Advisory Page on the Town website, where much of this information is posted, and also the next Open House on Aug. 6, 3-to-5 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church. Now to some answers.

1. Currently, between 8-to-10 rental units are contemplated (see the plans and site map online). As for more housing needed, we’ll wait until the consultant finishes their needs assessment — expected in August for an early September presentation.

2. No zoning changes are needed  — Community Housing Floating Zone already exists.

3. CPF/preserved land may not and will not be used for housing.

4. Since the Town is currently considering rental properties, I’ll speak to the management of this model. Either the Town will manage the properties through a Housing Authority (which would need to be created) or it would be a public/private partnership where a developer would administer the property. There are many variations of this being explored.

5. It’s my opinion that 8-to-10 units will not have enough of an impact on services that will require an adjustment to our real estate taxes. The rental properties — even at reduced rents — pencil out to be very modestly positive for the town in 15 or 20 years. They will cover their own construction costs and upkeep in the long term, although they will require financing to build.

6. Rental units would require a yearly income check to ensure the residents are still in the target demographic group. For Sale units (if explored further on) would be kept perpetually affordable through deed restrictions.

I’m happy to answer any other questions at the next open house or at my town email — [email protected]

ELIZABETH HANLEY, Chair of the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board

Two problems

To the Editor:

I brought my boat up from Port Washington in 1988 after discovering Shelter Island from a New York Times article. My first house was on a highly-trafficked road where I heard accelerating exhaust pipes and loud chatter all summer long for eight years.

I was very proud of my house. It was all I could afford and if my business had turned south, I was fully prepared to return to Port Washington with its speed boats, oil tankers, rock piles and no wind.

I have two major problems with the proposed referendum. Problem 1: Shocking lack of details concerning: how the money is to be spent, who retains ownership of the properties, who chooses who gets what, and what criteria are placed on the eligible recipients. The fact that such details have not yet been revealed smacks of cronyism and consultants that enable bad behavior.

Problem 2: The whole concept of getting something for nothing doesn’t sit well with me as history is littered with social engineering failure. The best allocator of individual options rests with Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand” and not with the arbitrary nature of social engineering.

It’s not perfect but just a better arbiter and efficient determination of who gets what. Living on Shelter Island isn’t an entitlement. My house painter is living the American dream. He started his own company and paints all over the Hamptons.

He recently moved to Riverhead to lower his expenses so he can invest into his business, save for the future and start a family. Most importantly, his work ethic and independence make him very happy. I relate to him.

JOHN WOODWARD, Shelter Island

Keep an open mind

To the Editor:

As a member of the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board, I’d like to point out to your readers that the housing plan that we’re currently working on is not what they’ll be voting on at the referendum in November.

That vote will determine whether or not the Town gets to update the current transfer tax from 2% for the Community Preservation Fund to a 2.5% transfer tax that will keep the 2 percent for CPF and add .5% for a Community Housing Fund.

We’ve seen how successful the CPF has been in preserving open space. This would be an analogous program with the goal of creating year-round housing options for Islanders who are currently priced out of the market.

These rentals or homes would be affordable in perpetuity for Islanders who meet the income requirements and will be awarded through a lottery system. I can tell you, I won’t be entering the lottery, as I’m lucky enough to have a home here.

There’s been a lot of misinformation sent in to the paper in letters and advertisements conflating the housing plan with the referendum and trying to confuse the public that the transfer tax (which only property buyers pay) is akin to an increase in their annual property taxes.

The housing plan the CHFAB and consultants Nelson Voorhis Pope are now working on includes community input and will be a part of our Comprehensive Plan. We have another open house on August 6 at 3 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church, or you can participate online at our committee’s page: shelterislandtown.us/community-housing-fund-advisory-board-1

Please take a look at our information with an open mind and participate.


Response to Codger

To the Editor:

In today’s paper, Codger (Robert Lipsyte) — no fan of Supervisor Siller’s lack of transparency — takes the transparency issue up a level on affordable housing.

Codger deserves kudos for his head-scratching about “how the concept …is supposed to work here and who is supposed to be its beneficiaries.” And then asks the bigger question: “How would community housing affect tax rates and environmental concerns, especially about water?”

But it doesn’t take Codger long to go on the attack against those who are simply trying to answer those questions. With the Supervisor Siller’s notorious opacity, and the Reporter’s investigative journalism missing-in-action, Islanders are forced to do the research themselves and print their results in multi-page ads. They deserve our thanks, not Codger’s ridicule.

“Mostly fools and greedheads,” Codger calls them, adding “oligarchs” for good measure. They “don’t deserve to live here,” he says. Sorry, Stacy, Aandrea, and Marie. I guess that means you and all the other responsible businesspersons who are “taking matters into their own hands and buying housing for their workers.” That’s the taxpayer’s responsibility, not yours, suggests Codger. And Siller is his man to make certain of it.

Oh, and Codger loves when Siller accuses his opponents of wanting “gated communities.” Well, according to the New York Times, where Codger once worked, we have always been a gated community, the gate being the Peconic Bay.

“The natural moat,” wrote the Times over 50 years ago, “helps keep outsiders away, and so does a fairly stiff ferry charge.”  Indeed, in case Codger hasn’t noticed, the ferry terminals actually have gates.

Let’s be honest. This “natural moat” of ours is a blessing. It protects our drinking water, our personal safety, and our property taxes. Siller’s unnatural housing referendum would undo all that.


Thank you

To the Editor:

I’d like to send a big “thank you” to the Town Board for the purchase of the 20-plus acres for preservation on South Menantic Road.

I’m so proud of all of you for making this happen; you are not just good politicians, but good people who I value as friends and neighbors. The land was purchased with the CPF fund, which is a 2% tax on sales of homes over $500,000; the fund can only be used for land preservation and a percentage of the fund also pays for upgraded septic system.

A big “thank you” to Assemblyman Fred Thiele is also in order for the original drafting of the legislation; few politicians have done more to preserve the natural beauty and culture of the East End than Mr. Thiele. This preserve will be one of the finest on the Island and I look forward to enjoying it with all of you. The next big goal for all of us is to accomplish is affordable housing; let’s not let ourselves be bullied by people who take out full-page adds to badmouth the people we elect to protect us from their greed.

Happy Hiking!

JOSEPH DENNY, Shelter Island

True friends

To the Editor:

Living on Shelter Island for as long as I have, when I hear or read the word “Friends” related to an organization, three groups come to mind: The Quakers, Friends of Shelter Island Library, and Friends of Shelter Island Music.

The Quakers, more formally known as The Society of Friends, are locally called Shelter Island Friends. To my recollection, the Quakers arrived here in the mid 1600s and continue to have meetings to this day. My grandmother was a long time Friend, attending meetings every summer. All are welcome to attend.

Next, let’s look at the Friends of Shelter Island Library mission statement: “The purpose of the Friends shall be to foster closer relations between the library and the community, to enhance the library’s functions, resources, services and needs, to encourage benefactions, gifts, appropriate fundraising, and bequests to the Shelter Island Public Library.” All are welcome to visit the library.

Last, but certainly not least, the Friends of Shelter Island Music was established in 1977 to bring musical talent to the East End of Long Island. All are welcome to attend the concerts.

These three groups are all community-minded organizations welcoming all.

Recently, a few more “Friend” groups have popped up and have been quite vocal. I appreciate those who ask questions and seek information, but one group has taken it too far. There is a difference between freedom of speech and intentionally spreading misinformation for alternative motives. Friends to all vs. Friends to some.

NELL LOWELL, Shelter Island

ADA anniversary

To the Editor:

Imagine you need to get to a job interview or make a last minute medical appointment, but you can’t get there because you had to plan your trip days ahead of time. This is the reality for the thousands of paratransit riders with disabilities on Long Island who face considerable hurdles getting around.

The Americans With Disabilities Act, passed 32 years ago on July 26, 1992, mandates that all public transit agencies provide complementary paratransit services for people with disabilities who cannot use buses or rail services. Through Suffolk County Accessible Transportation (SCAT) rides must be booked one to five days in advance and requires the passenger to be available for a 30-minute pickup window. Though eligible riders pay a $4 fare, each paratransit ride is heavily subsidized — costing SCAT more than $82 per passenger trip.

Paratransit need not be this inflexible and expensive. Since 2019, Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has operated a RideFlex program that provides eligible paratransit riders the ability to book trips on ridesharing apps at a subsidized rate. Riders pay $3 for each trip, while the MBTA pays up to $40. This kind of flexible paratransit program has the potential to both reduce costs and improve transportation access. With rideshare integration, SCAT would require fewer vehicles and be able to provide more flexible transportation opportunities to people with disabilities at a lower cost to the public.

Implementing such a program would introduce challenges, but should not prevent transit officials from redesigning the paratransit system in order to uphold the ADA’s promise of equal access to transportation for people with disabilities.


Mr. Morris is an assistant professor in the Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare..Ms. Rasmussen is masters candidate at Stony Brook, and an Island resident.