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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Aug. 31, 2023

All e-bikes are not alike

To the Editor:

Karl Grossman last week sounded a concern about e-bikes, a concern that is quite valid, but one that doesn’t recognize important differentials in e-bikes.

There is quite a difference in the types of e-bikes and those differences should be understood both in terms of regulation, but more so in terms of enforcement. For purposes of simplicity, I will break e-bikes into two distinct categories.

The first category shouldn’t be of concern. These are what are called “pedal assist” bikes, very much like regular bicycles. As the name implies, pedal assist bikes require the rider to pedal like with a normal bike, and the electric part may help them up a hill or through a headwind. These bikes are limited in terms of speed to 20 mph. Pedal assist bikes are helpful for those who might not be strong enough because of age, injury etc.

I hope to never need a pedal assist bike, but if I do, I will be glad to have one to keep me riding. So, don’t be concerned about the rider recovering from surgery who needs a boost to get up the hills of Ram Island.

The second type of e-bikes contain a myriad of options, but with a common theme, they all work via a throttle and do not require the rider to use their own power. In reality, these are not bicycles, but a form of a motorized vehicle. There is a use for such vehicles, such as a cleaner way for short trips to the post office.

But unfortunately, there is so much abuse related to these bikes, which can reach significant speeds above a regular or pedal assist bike. These are the e-bikes that need better regulation and enforcement, since they inherently have a greater potential for danger.

BILL MASTRO, Shelter Island

Some advice to heed

To the Editor:

As a relatively new Shelter Island homeowner who is eager to understand issues that are critical to preserving and protecting our beautiful island, and to participate in the dialogue around these matters, I have been closely following developments around the new Comprehensive Plan. 

I am also a strategic communications professional and have been surprised and frustrated by the opacity with which this process appears to be moving forward. I am clearly not the only person who feels that way, hence the August 24 virtual town meeting which was, in my view, completely unsatisfying.

Under the pretext of transparency and collaboration, that meeting was like kabuki theater — very long on platitudes and woefully short on substance. It felt like a box-checking exercise — members of the community want to be heard, so the Board listened; members of the community want to know what is actually in the plan, particularly as it relates to land use and environmental impact, so they got a bunch of lofty pronouncements in a Powerpoint presentation with lots of bells and whistles about the importance of the environment, with no details about how they actually plan to protect it. 

And in a form of censorship, when reporting back to the full group about the substance of the small group meetings, the consultant leads failed to mention the tough questions some of us asked. Was this because they knew they don’t have the answers, or worse, the answers are completely unsatisfactory?

I always give my clients three key pieces of advice: never insult the intelligence of your stakeholders; be transparent; and, once you lose credibility, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to regain it. I appreciate the hard work and commitment of the Board and thank them for their service, but they would do well to heed that advice.

ELLEN DAVIS, Shelter Island

Caring what the public thinks

To the Editor:

About a year ago, I published an open letter to Supervisor Siller where I asked him, “Mr. Supervisor, what is the Plan?”

In that letter, I expressed my concern that the process to draft a new Comprehensive Plan is fraught with serious risks and issues and that we needed a broad, open conversation across Shelter Island before we change or, as this Town Board wants, throw out the existing Comprehensive Plan in favor of something wholly new.

What did I ask the supervisor to do? Three things. First, have large Town Hall meetings (then, at the beginning, to gather views and explain vision and process; not at the end); second, commence an open process with true experts; and third, slow down. Unfortunately, to anyone who has paid attention to this Comprehensive Plan process, it’s clear that those in charge don’t care what the public really thinks — unless it aligns with their hidden agenda.

Why do I say this? Because dozens of comments and suggestions for the Comprehensive Plan have been submitted — and have been totally ignored. And to top it off, last week they concocted an insulting “public session.” Why insulting? Instead of large, in-person “town hall” style sessions, they made it virtual, broken into small groups built around juvenile questions/statements and highly controlled by “moderators.”

To make it worse, the facilitators’ “findings” were almost Soviet-like in how they misrepresented the participants’ views. I should know, my undergraduate degree was in Soviet Studies in the midst of the Cold War.

This all needs to stop. The Town Board members pushing this need to step back and let the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee drive the process along with qualified consultants — not these rubber stamp BFJ consultants who just dance to the tune of the Town Board and hidden agendas.

BILL DERROUGH, Shelter Island

Stop signs

To the Editor:

I’m writing about the intersection of Route 114 and Manwaring Road, the IGA corner. A few times a year, mostly in the summer months, I or someone in my family experiences or witnesses a close call at this intersection.

When you are driving east on 114, there’s not a stop sign, but there is a stop sign for those coming from Manwaring Road and 114 in the other direction. Since all roads meet at a right angle, drivers who are unfamiliar with Shelter Island understandably assume everyone has a stop sign.

I’m a fan of road fluidity, however, in this instance, I believe safety outweighs any benefit and would like to see stop signs all around.

JESSICA COLAS, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

As some of your readers may be aware, I am being treated for cancer. My doctors have advised me that this particular illness, one which will affect my throat for several weeks, is very treatable, and that my ongoing campaign efforts should continue along with a full recovery.

In the spirit of transparency, please understand that I may occasionally miss an event or a public appearance. Also, I may show physical signs related to treatment. All of this is expected and will not alter my commitment to my campaign, my Team Amber colleagues, and my service to this wonderful community.

I hope that I can count on your support.

ART WILLIAMS, Shelter Island

A call for new leadership

To the Editor:

In the current issue of the Reporter, five of the six candidates for Town Board or supervisor, all three Democrats and two of the Republicans, came out against rushing the Comprehensive Plan to completion in December before the current Town Board leaves office. Our Town needs a new Comprehensive Plan, but only one that is adopted after a full environmental study and meaningful review by the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee and by the public.

What our town also needs is leadership, new leadership. New leadership that will build reasonably-scaled affordable housing without jeopardizing the environment. New leadership that will save millions by installing advanced septic (I/A )systems for the municipal buildings in the Center, rather than a centralized wastewater system, and will promote and subsidize residential I/A installations elsewhere.

New leadership that will ensure that residential and commercial development does not threaten the environment and character of Island neighborhoods or benefit only recently arrived developers, other special interests, or those wanting to build oversized houses or compounds.

New leadership that will strengthen irrigation and other water conservation measures, not loosen them. New leadership that will preserve the school in its entirety. New leadership that will seek community input and any needed professional guidance before pursuing major initiatives.

New leadership that will be open and transparent, and committed to avoiding conflicts of interest. 

We offer ourselves as a united team, with proven leadership, government, and business experience, to provide that new leadership.


Mr Gooding is running for supervisor on the Democratic line, and Mr. Dickson and Mr. Dyett are running for Town Council seats on the Democratic line.

Water plans

To the Editor:

I am trying to give voters some insight into my thoughts on where I stand on some issues. Voters here have to understand that national politics don’t really fit into the Shelter Island narrative, but we do have a say on local housing concerns, water quality issues, environmental impact issues and the quality of our bays and bottoms. I touched lightly on the Comprehensive Plan and today I will touch on water quality.

I feel the delivery about water quality issues has been poorly done and drove fear into those of us who live here. The water advisory meeting at the library this summer that I attended, was nothing more than a push for public water. I requested water test results from the town buildings and was told the town has no records. I FOILed the county and received some water test records but an incomplete list. The water is tested by an outside company, and yet the town has no records?

I have learned that the water is not as bad as we were led to believe from the tests the county was able to provide. I was also told New York State laws have changed and now Town Hall no longer grandfathers in regarding distance between wells and waste, hence the push for a sewer treatment system and/or public water. New fact?

County results on the water at police headquarters show good test results and makes me think it may be time to create our own water district behind the Police Department and use that water to supply some town buildings. I believe it’s cheaper than the wastewater treatment plant by far, and helps to keep Suffolk County Water Authority from taking over our island.

Anxiously awaiting the 166 water test results.

TOM CRONIN, Shelter Island

 Mr. Cronin is running for Town Council on the Republican line.

Political yard signs

To the Editor:

A tradition observed on the Island from time immemorial that should be maintained is that political lawn signs are not displayed until after Labor Day and are taken down within 24 hours after the election.

This unwritten agreement between the two major parties was made in consideration of other Island organizations that wished to advertise fundraisers, events, etc. in the summer. It was agreed that cluttering the landscape with more signs would be a distraction and unnecessary.

Be assured that the Democratic candidates — Gordon Gooding for supervisor and Benjamin Dyett and Albert Dickson for Town Board — are going to observe this unwritten tradition. We’re sorry to see that the Republican candidates have disrespected this agreement and bucked the tradition.

Our signs will be displayed after the holiday. Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend.

CATHY KENNY, Shelter Island

Ms. Kenny is treasurer and campaign manager for a ‘Better Island for All,’ representing the Democratic slate for Town Council.