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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor, Aug. 11, 2022

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 Shelter Island Friends of 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 longtime 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 Shelter Island Friends of 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

Unique opportunity

To the Editor:

I have been a Shelter Island homeowner and part-time resident for over 20 years. I have listened to the concern of my neighbors that if the Community Housing Act (CHA) is passed and affordable housing is built with its support, that housing will remain affordable and not revert to market rate. I share this concern. 

At the Community Housing Open House on Saturday August 6, I was pleased to learn that this stipulation was built into the legislation. That is, before a town may use the funds, the town board must adopt a town housing plan that shall:

(8e) … ensure that all community housing created pursuant to this section remains affordable. Subsequent purchasers … shall have at the time of purchase … an income that does not exceed … income limits established by the state of New York … for Suffolk County.

Although I do not vote on Shelter Island, I do have a deep and abiding interest in the protection and promotion of the Island’s economic diversity. The findings establishing the need for the CHA legislation indicate that “…an adequate supply of housing opportunities for all segments of the Peconic Bay community is critical to the future of the … region,” the current demand “has left a short supply of housing opportunities for moderate income and working class local residents,” and “it is the expressed purpose of the legislation to give the towns of the region the authority to establish a dedicated fund to provide needed housing opportunities” specifically for this population.

I encourage those who vote on Shelter Island to educate themselves about the facts, take part in the process of creating the plan, and take advantage of this unique opportunity to support affordable housing by voting in favor of participation in the CHA on Election Day. 

LIZ GEWIRTZMAN, Shelter Island

More questions

To the Editor:

I want to thank Ms. Hanley for her response to questions that I posed in a letter (“Questions,” July 21).

Notwithstanding her candid answers, my questions were directed at Supervisor Siller and the Town Board since they, and only they, have the ultimate authority to implement whatever transpires on the issue of affordable housing. The Community Housing Advisory Board, which Ms. Hanley chairs, has no legal authority beyond its advisory role and has a vested interest in the outcome.

Several of Ms. Hanley’s statements are of some concern. She says that no zoning changes are contemplated since there already is a provision for Community

Housing Floating Zones. Floating zones are a de facto zoning change for the parcel involved and have a direct impact on adjacent and neighboring properties.

I was delighted to hear that existing Town-owned open space will not be touched, but she does not comment on the use of transferring property rights, which has been discussed, and how that will affect other properties on the Island.

She says affordable housing for rent will require yearly reviews of income levels for tenants. Does anyone seriously believe that the Town will evict a family with children that no longer qualifies for occupancy? She further suggests that the management of such rentals could be turned over to a newly created Housing Authority. This would create another agency that would have to be funded by the Town in order to handle 8 to 10 units.

Finally, the impact on real estate taxes is left vague. How much have we spent on two consultants for this initiative? How much will be spent on planning, engineering and other professional services? How much will a Housing Authority cost? What will be the cumulative cost per unit?

Once again, I submit that the supervisor, on behalf of the Town Board, is the appropriate person to address these questions.

DON BINDLER, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

It’s time to create the Community Housing Fund, a separate fund, not to be intermingled with CPF, to add our toolbox for preservation of the people we cherish. After all, a big part of “community character” is the “characters” in our community, right?

We all know friends, family members and employees who have left our towns, villages and hamlets over the affordability issue. We all know teachers, law enforcement and essential workers who spend hours on the roads and too much of their hard-earned money on fuel and ferry tickets to get to their jobs so they can make our lives better every day. Part-time residents are replacing full-time residents, businesses are closing down or selling out to entrepreneurs.

Community housing is a sustainable community issue. We have to preserve and create housing for our local residents, business owners and local workforce before we all disappear. Opponents of community housing don’t want change. Well, change happens. Many younger people prefer smaller and simpler living spaces that require less maintenance. Some retirees hope for an apartment rather than a big home. We have to face those realities. Holding onto the past can prevent us from clearly seeing our present challenges and properly planning for the future.

We have seen the outlandish things being said by a few “Friends of …” groups. Don’t fall prey to fake news and fear tactics. We’re lucky to have Shelter For All and the Shelter Island Community Housing Board sharing the facts and gathering constructive feedback about the upcoming referendum and Town Housing Plan.

Adversaries look at things as win-lose. We’re looking for win-win. That goes for all parties in this. Even the crotchety characters that like to fight about everything.


Mr. Daly is the founder of East End YIMBY


To the Editor:

We have a beautiful island, but those who are new neighbors (and maybe some old neighbors) may not be aware of our fragile aquifer that we all draw upon. At this writing, The Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA) has declared a water emergency, asking us all to refrain from non-essential water use. As I pass the new restaurant at the old Capitol One Bank building, I cannot help noticing the continual sprinklers on all the new plantings and road. Also, I have noticed continual watering on Town property on Cobbetts Lane . Someone has planted flowers and has a hose and sprinkler on the lane. 

Although you may  find the plantings attractive, please remember that we all need water for critical emergency situations, which is why the SCWA has declared a water emergency. If  you must water, please water by hand. You can target individual plants and  there is less waste. 

In the future, I would encourage everyone to plant native plants, which require less water, prevent erosion and are vital to preserving biodiversity. 

CAROL TIERNAN, Shelter Island

Thank you

To the Editor:

I am humbled and a little embarrassed by your editorial, “Thank You, Gordon Gooding” in last week’s Reporter. I thank you for the recognition and for celebrating the idea of preserving property and protecting preserved property from inappropriate use. But I want everyone to know that it’s not just me. There are a lot of people who work with me and our CPF Committee.   

We have a dedicated team that works hard to keep me on track and keep our mission and agenda focused. That team includes Chuck Kraus, who’s been a CPF member since 2006, Twoey (Albert) Brayson, Kathleen Gerard, Joseph Denny, Cathy Kenny, and Tim Purtell. They each bring a different level of expertise to the table, but they all want dearly to protect our environment and aquifer.

Then there Is Ed Shillingburg, who was a member from 2016-2020. He still works with the committee to research and document existing preserves and prospective purchases. In addition, we consult with many retired CPF members like  Jim Dougherty, Michael Coles, Hoot Sherman, Peter Vielbig, Mike Laspia and others. Melanie Cirillo, vice president of the Peconic Land Trust, often joins our meetings and provides valuable environmental and procedural advise. Albert Dickson, our town liaison until this year, always gave us clear and focused advice and prompted positive communications between the committee and the Town Board. And of course, our support staff, Jane Roberts and Kristina Martin Majdisova, past and present clerks to the committee.

All of these individuals make the CPF function, and they deserve the recognition. And to all the members of the community —remember “This land is your Land!” Use it wisely.

Thank you, Shelter Island Reporter, for your support!

GORDON GOODING, Shelter Island