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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: June 8, 2023

Life and …

To the Editor:

I’d like to thank the League of Women Voters and everyone who came out June 4 to the library to watch and hear the debate of the Democratic candidates.

I wish to address the one question I feel I flubbed and which Albert Dickson pointed out that he didn’t understand. I didn’t take notes or have any with me but my recollection of the question was: “What three things do you see as the most pressing problems to life or lifestyle on the Island?”  What I think threw me off was the choice between life and lifestyle. When I think of life I think in terms of life and death, a very serious concern. When I think of lifestyle that’s more like pickleball.

So, to the former of life, I’ll agree water along with affordability are my top two, and health of our bays/creeks is third. For the lifestyle I’d say accessibility to the waterfront, business opportunities and I’ll stick with pickleball as third.  

Bert Waife, Shelter Island

Empathy and strength

To the Editor:

Shelter Island Democrats have an opportunity to vote in a primary this year on June 27 for town candidates to run in November.

I’d like to express a few personal observations about leadership and governance as the registered Democrats prepare to make their choices. What does a good leader do? Do they talk and talk? Do they continue to postpone legislation over and over? No, a good leader listens to many ideas, opinions and facts. Then, in the case of town governance, consensus is gained with the other elected officials.

Finally, the decision is made by the entire Town Board under the leadership of our supervisor. Sometimes they are easy decisions, sometimes difficult. Decisions rarely make everyone happy. It takes a strong leader to get anything done. Otherwise, the can is kicked down the road.

Legislation dies a slow painful “death by committee.” Shelter Island is at a turning point. Can we afford to just talk and talk? Can we afford to continue kicking important issues down the road?

Personally, I want Shelter Island to have a strong, if not popular, leader with a proven track record of accomplishments. I want a Town Council that’s not afraid to speak up, rather than being a “yes” Council. I want elected officials that truly support my community with intelligence, unbiased empathy and strength.

Heather Reylek, Chair, Shelter Island Democratic Committee

Asking for responses

To the Editor:

I write on behalf of the Shelter Island Association (SIA), an organization that represents 10 neighborhoods. It’s unfortunate that this newspaper identified the SIA as opposed to the town’s wastewater treatment project, when in fact (as corrected by you) the SIA has not taken a formal position. However, the SIA has taken strong positions in letters to the Town Board as follows:

1) It opposes zoning changes that weaken environmental protections in the Near Shore Overlay District (letter dated May 23, 2023).

2) Along with the rest of the community, the SIA strongly opposed the Amendment to the Wetlands law that transferred permitting and policy making decisions from the Town to the Planning Board, a non-elected entity. The town passed this amendment, weakening wetlands protection, despite wide community opposition (SIA letter dated March 17, 2023).

3) The SIA requested the Town, its Comprehensive Plan Task Force and Advisory Committee to hire an independent professional water expert to prepare a holistic plan for the Island’s water, including its fragile aquifer and its bays and harbors to be included in the Comprehensive Plan (letter dated April 20, 2022).

4) The SIA opposed any zoning changes that would create commercial spot zoning or authorize expansion of non-conforming uses, dismantling environmental safeguards (letter dated October 19, 2021).

The Town Board has not responded to these letters. The Shelter Island Association represents hundreds of residents, and our mission promotes collective engagement while advocating on issues that are critical to preserving Shelter Island resources and character.  

We seek to inform and work with the Town Board on these issues and hope for constructive responses.  

Kimberly Noland, President, The Shelter Island Association


To the Editor:

On the morning of May 26, I was traveling down West Neck Road and came upon a horrific sight. This very large snapping turtle crossing the street to an area of wetlands to lay her eggs, was smashed with her eggs strewn all over the road.

Either this person should not be driving, or they were distracted by their cellphone. It’s not as if the snapping turtle darted out in front of the person.

These animals are losing their habitat, there is increased traffic this time of year and we as stewards need to be more courteous and caring for their welfare and survival.

Please slow down, pay attention, and get off your devices while you are driving. Your text can wait five minutes.


Then more things change

To the Editor:

It was with mixed relief and disappointment that this morning I heard the radio announce the town’s decision to place a six-month moratorium on new single family constructions that exceed 6,000 sq. ft.

Sadly, this comes too late for the Palace of Versailles rising across the road from my house, as well as some equally bloated examples of country homes on steroids.

These exhibitionistic new builds instantly skew the character of a neighborhood, where they dominate the landscape with an ostentatious display of self-promotion. Admittedly, Shelter Island has attracted monied people who have built big, but that was 100 years ago. Although the excesses of the age of Gatsby may be comparable to our present day, environmental and socio-economic imbalances must inform how and where we build anew.

While welcome, a six-month pause is not nearly enough.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Library Director Terry Lucas who, in advance of the vote, generously volunteered to tour me through the elevations and plans for the $9 million + library expansion.

As a regular borrower from the library, I feel invested in its smooth operation. Our library is an indispensable asset to our community. The expansion will allow it to be of additional service in mixed usage programming, which will benefit us all.

Here, the opportunity of a generation to add an innovative design that incorporates the Mausoleum style of all our late 1960’s civic buildings, with something enlightened, has been squandered. A contemporary design could have commemorated the addition as something more than an expansion.

The idea of any library is a continuum of the past; a temple of resources consecrated to what was then, what is now and what will come.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, kids.

TOM CUGLIANI,Shelter Island