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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Sept. 28, 2023

Clarifying some statements

To the Editor:

I want to thank those who attended the Comprehensive Plan hearing. The words of support from folks who do not like public speaking were welcomed. Despite the resignation of some CPAC members, I take heart that 60% of the committee is persevering, thereby honoring the time and taxpayer dollars expended to date.

Some statements by Islanders on Saturday warrant clarification:

The Plan does not weaken the Near Shore Overlay District (NSOD) nor does it encourage/promote accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in the NSOD. Action Item 4.4.A states: … the Near Shore Overlay District (NSOD) Code regulations and boundaries should be maintained and strengthened. Current regulations prohibit ADUs in the NSOD, therefore, by maintaining and strengthening existing regulations, the Plan states no ADUs. Further, the Town should explore limiting house size on small, undeveloped parcels in the NSOD and discourage variances for pre-existing structures, establishing further protection of the NSOD.

Secondly, establishing an Island-wide water district enables the Town to engage with Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA). Without establishing a district, SCWA can bring water anywhere, anytime. A district strengthens home rule. A similar rationale applies to the recommended Wastewater District: it enables the Town to approach problems with flexibility, enhances funding eligibility, and strengthens home rule.

It was stated that grants are not helpful because, after all, grants are taxpayer dollars, too. However, county or state or federal government monies come from a larger tax base, thereby minimizing the impact on the individual Island taxpayer for grant-funded projects, so grants are helpful.

Finally, the Plan recognizes that Island character depends on low-density residential zoning — as addressed in Goal 4.1: It is important to affirmatively state that if public sewers and water supplies are built, the residential density of existing residentially zoned areas should be maintained.

BJ IANFOLLA, Councilwoman, Town of Shelter Island

Elephant sighting

To the Editor:

There’s an elephant in the room on Shelter Island.

And before I go further, I’d like to let you know I’m writing this letter as myself, not representing any committee or association.

Save me if I hear one more person lead with “density” and “zoning” … If only it were really about those two words. I am tired of the evasive dance; it’s like a mating courtship gone bad.

The elephant is housing — and behind that, classism and racism — fear of something next to you that doesn’t fit.

The next time you encounter people using “density” and “zoning,” stop them. Ask them to explain exactly what these feared things look like, and don’t let them use the same words to explain. Are they big buildings? With what kind of people in them? Draw me a picture of what a zoning nightmare looks like. Take me from start to finish and what the structures and people will look like and do. Give them a piece of paper and pen and make them draw it for you.

Interpretation is 100% about semantics. An interpreter’s job is to figure out what the elephant is. No two people can understand each other if the interpreter doesn’t have access to the deepest level of meaning. All of us should be asking: “What is that person really saying?”

The elephant is out. My job is done.


12 million gallons a year

To the Editor:

Re: Gardiner’s Bay Country Club water request: GBCC is asking for an additional 6 million gallons of water to be added to their already 6 million gallons for a total of 12 million gallons annual usage for irrigation purposes.

If that amount of water was compared to filling a private home’s swimming pools it would look something like this: An 18-by-36-by-6 foot  swimming pool initially needs approximately 13,000 gallons of water, which, by the way, town code requires to be purchased from an off-Island source and trucked in. Twelve million gallons annually equates to filling over 900 new swimming pools per year!

Think about this, too: In 1996 GBCC requested an increase of water usage to 11 million gallons. The DEC expressed concern to the Town Board and Hay Beach Association that 11 million gallons could cause a large scale intrusion of salt water in individual wells, especially in the Hay Beach area. Now this new request is 1 million gallons of community water greater than what was asked for and denied in 1996. Now, 27 years later, the same aquifer hasn’t changed, but the Island has, with many new homes and wells pulling on the same old water supply.

Putting a high demand on our fragile aquifer could result in serious reduction and quality of our potable water. Drought conditions in the past have curtailed home owner applications to the Town Board for irrigation systems and the town has had to request limited home watering when necessary.

Good potable water could be available for many more generations here with continued personal and commercial usage. Should we endanger our future potable water supply by approving GBCC’s request? Perhaps GBCC could investigate constructing a de-salination system for their own use. How is water usage measured and monitored at GBCC?

MARJORIE CYR, Shelter Island

Au contraire

To the Editor:

In the last few issues of the Reporter, we’ve seen breathless coverage of various lawsuits and disgruntled assertions about Marie Eiffel, the proprietor of several successful Island businesses.

Oh please.

I’ve only known Marie as an occasional customer over the many years she’s been on our Island. What she “is” … is apparent to anyone who lives here or who visits her shops regularly. A extremely hard-working and dedicated independent woman with an infectious enthusiasm and fierce aesthetic for food, design, and quality. She’s attracted a variety of visitors from afar to our Island, to the benefit of all who live and work here.

Yes, she is guilty of being French … and some of what that may imply. She cares intensely. She is fastidious, insists on excellence, and is often a perfectionist in all she does.

Mon Dieu!

How lucky are we to have Marie on this Island.


Dress code

To the Editor:

Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a very casual dresser. My ratty old T-shirts are comfortable and the varnish stains on them are a badge of honor for the hard work I do maintaining my boats. However, when I had the privilege to serve our Island as Town Councilman, every third Friday for 12 years I donned a jacket and tie for Town Board meetings.

This week’s news that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) relaxed the unwritten dress code on the Senate floor for senators from coat and tie to accommodate people like Senator John Fetterman (D-Penn.), who feels more comfortable running around Washington in gym shorts and hoodies, infuriated me.

This lack of decorum is disgraceful and shows a lack of respect for our great nation. It is also disgraceful that we have allowed this to happen. The voters of New York and Pennsylvania need to vote these two out at the next election and elect candidates with more dignity and respect.

PETER REICH, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

Congratulations for winning all those awards. I would guess it isn’t every day that a journalist gets cited for a “poetically written” story.

Thanks for all you do.

DAVID OLSEN, Shelter Island