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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Oct. 5, 2023


To the Editor:

On May 26, I had a great fall (I mean it). My left ankle was broken and open to the wind, my right quad was torn to shreds. 

The EMS and police teams were very quick to come to my rescue. They were so concerned with my condition that they had me airlifted to Stony Brook. Four months and a day later, yesterday, I was discharged from rehab in Saint James, I came home to the Rock, I saw, and I sat in my favorite armchair. 

I am far from nimble, but I am alive and as well as could be expected, considering. I owe both the EMS and the police my legs and quite possibly my life. I just wanted to acknowledge the debt. 

Where else except on Shelter Island would that be possible?

ROGER MCKEON, Shelter Island

Hat in the ring

To the Editor:

Another day, another inquiry as to why I am not running, would I run, etc. So, I am here announcing my write-in candidacy for councilman. 

I know it’s late in the game, but there’s plenty of time if enough people are motivated to pass their recommendation around. I know my presence made a difference over the eight years I served. It was quite evident after I left. The people who come up to me to talk about it tell me all the time. No brag, just fact.

So, for those with the stomach for it, I’m in. It’s not meant to be easy for third party candidates, and especially write-ins. The Reds and Blues want us to eat what’s put before us.

If you can’t currently find two Council candidates you want to vote for, then please consider a write-in for me. Put it in the right place, in full, and spelled correctly, if you want it to count.

Hopefully this will bring some of those feeling left out back to the voting booth. This is the worst possible time to get cynical or give up. Pick up the pen or pick up the pieces.

Thank you for your consideration.

PAUL SHEPHERD, Shelter Island

Help the Island’s waterways

To the Editor:

Do you remember when eelgrass thrived in the Island’s creeks and harbors?

Now Cornell Cooperative Extension’s marine habitat and water quality improvement project is shifting from oyster reef to eelgrass meadows.  

Our goal for this fall is to complete eelgrass plantings at four to five sites around the Island. While we have some ideas for those sites, the best way to ensure success of such a restoration project is by incorporating local knowledge of where eelgrass has historically been supported.

I am asking you, the Shelter Island community, to contribute to this project by sharing with me your knowledge: where do you remember seeing patches of eelgrass, perhaps feeling springs of cold groundwater in your favorite swimming spot, or seeing reddish sediment indicating nutrients that are beneficial to eelgrass roots? I will be stationed at the Shelter Island Public Library from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10 with a map and notebook to record this valuable information. If you can’t make it to see me there, you may email me instead at: [email protected].

For those interested in helping with this project in a hands-on capacity, we will be holding a Marine Meadows Workshop at Sylvester Manor on Saturday, Oct. 14 from  10 a.m. to 12 p.m., where participants of all ages can help us weave eelgrass shoots into burlap “tortillas” that will be planted by our dive team the following week at our selected restoration sites. 

For more details, and to register for this free event, please visit: backtothebays.org/calendar.

KATE ROSSI-SNOOK, Aquaculture Coordinator, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Water worries

To the Editor:

I’m writing to clarify several of BJ Ianfolla’s statements in the Reporter 9/28/23. 

She wrote: “…establishing an Island-wide water district enables the Town to engage with Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA). Without establishing the district, SCWA can bring water anywhere, anytime. A district strengthens home rule.”

Originally, it was Ms. Ianfolla, with the rest of the outgoing Town Board, that voted to adopt the contract (May 2022), which she now admits passed control over public water from the Town to SCWA. This Island needs to cancel this adverse contract with SCWA (there is an anytime cancellation clause in section 8.1) and renegotiate so that the Town, not SCWA maintains control. 

She also wrote: “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.” This is no more convincing than her argument at the School Board hearing  (4/19/2023) that “…installing I/A system at the school could be a violation of the constitution.” Fortunately, the BOE stood up to this pressure by installing an I/A system and has already stopped polluting the aquifer in the Center.  Meanwhile the town buildings continue polluting the aquifer while the Board continues to entertain grandiose infrastructure projects, despite failing to articulate a credible rationale for them, wasting taxpayers’ money, whether local funds or state/federal grants. 

Ms. Ianafolla also wrote: “If public sewers and water supplies are built, the residential density of existing residentially zoned areas should be maintained.” 

This is a hollow reassurance. Once the public sewer and water are built, there is nothing to stop a future Town Board from up-zoning residential and business districts as the County Department of Health Services density restrictions will no longer apply. Is this the real rationale for wanting to build all this infrastructure?

JAN SUDOL, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

Although Julia Weisenberg says she is speaking as a private individual (Letter to Editor Sept. 28, 20223), it is disturbing to see a member of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force, the Town Planning Committee, and the moderator of the public discussion of the draft Comprehensive Plan at the recent public meeting, accusing anybody who disagrees with her on the issues of density and zoning of “racism and classism.”  

Ms. Weisenberg should not be holding public positions if she has such negative and condescending opinions of those who disagree with her.

LILY HOFFMAN, Shelter Island

Step up to the plate

To the Editor:

Density and zoning — there I said it — are very important factors to consider for the long-range future for our cherished Island. Just go to Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx if you want to see what high-density housing looks like.

For Ms. Weisenberg to imply that it is racism when there are objections to affordable housing when it violates our housing and zoning regulations, is offensive and not true. By law, any law-abiding citizen who meets the financial requirements can apply.

The only way for her to assume that only certain races will apply or get these houses is because she is the one doing the racial profiling.

If you want affordable housing then step up to the plate and pay for it, but don’t do it at the expense of destroying our Island.

STEVE KOLLER, Shelter Island

Nasty attacks

To the Editor:

I read with extreme dismay the letter from Julia Weisenberg, who ran the Sept. 23 Comprehensive Plan session. Rather than focus on relevant facts and issues, as last week’s Reporter editorial encourages we all do, Ms. Weisenberg instead attacks and questions the motives of critics of the current draft of the plan. 

She suggests — in writing — that those who raise objections to the Comprehensive Plan are either classist or racist. It’s no secret that I oppose this Comprehensive Plan. I do so because of the way it has unfolded, because of many controversial ideas in it — including significant zoning changes without explanation — and because of recently inserted phrases and concepts which must be better explained. 

Does that make me a racist? Against whom? My mother immigrated from Guatemala and my husband came from Costa Rica at the age of 17 with nothing but a suitcase and some relatives in Florida. At our home, our kids’ first language was Spanish; rice and beans are eaten every week. Our family has lots of family still in Central America and we visit them often. 

At work, I co-chair my firm’s diversity networks. Yet, somehow, I’m a racist for criticizing the “plan”? Or I, the son of a carpenter father and public school aide mother, am a classist because I object? 

Ms. Weisenberg says that her accusations were written personally and not on behalf of “any committee or association.” But such nasty, open attacks on fellow citizens should disqualify anyone from serving the public as a Town Board-appointed representative of any kind. In such a role, a person should represent the interests of the entire Shelter Island community and work, hopefully, toward consensus. To unite Islanders and not divide us. 

We deserve better from our representatives. 

BILL DERROUGH, Shelter Island

Ugly cloud

To the Editor:

Let me get this straight. The Planning Board and CPAC deal with issues of zoning and density, which are a large part of each committee’s brief. Now, a member of both these boards, though speaking as an individual, has decided that anyone asking questions about, referring to, or expressing concern about these two issues vis-à-vis affordable housing, is suspect as a racist and a classist. Huh.

As a person with some expertise in these issues, given her time on the Planning Board, Julia Weisenberg could have chosen to clarify, reassure, explain, and perhaps even welcome differing opinions and thoughts about housing. Instead, she’s chosen to present her personal “interpretation” as objective truth.

The misconstruing and discounting of other people’s ideas and questions is an ugly cloud that has been floating around this Island for a while now. Julia may have exposed the elephant, but I don’t think it’s precisely the one she planned on.


Clearly being rushed

To the Editor:

I want to acknowledge that, in an ad in the September 28 issue of the Reporter, Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams, my opponent in the race to succeed Supervisor Siller, has finally pivoted and followed me and those running for the Town Board, both Democrats and Republicans, in expressing concern about the current draft of the Comprehensive Plan.  

Although she stops short of saying that the plan should not be passed before a new Board takes office in January, it is a step in the right direction.

As expressed by many members of the public at the recent hearing, there are serious problems with how the plan is being pursued and drafted. The plan is clearly being rushed to completion without either a full environmental review or meaningful community discussion of its controversial elements. 

I urge the deputy supervisor to do more than withdraw her endorsement of the plan. I urge her to show leadership by persuading her fellow Board members to allow time to come up with a good plan that can be enacted by the new Board on which she will remain, whether or not she is elected supervisor.

Gordon Gooding, Shelter Island

Editor’s Note: Mr. Gooding is the Democratic
candidate for supervisor in November’s election.

Stand up

To the Editor:

I was shocked by the news of the resignations of three members of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. The Comprehensive Plan should be a collaborative effort where different points of view are represented. In my time in politics, I have certainly grown to appreciate the conversations with people who disagree with me. It makes you a better listener; and often these conversations can further enhance one’s opinion on an issue. It also teaches you to fight for what you believe.

Mr. Dyett, a Town Board candidate, is on record saying that the BFJ Consultants were only communicating with those members leading the Task Force. He, Dyett, then took his ball and went home. Another former member described it as a “chaotic process.” Really? It seems, if true, that those are two good reasons why somebody running for Town Board should fight to stay involved; not quit on a plan that will affect us and future generations. 

This is an example of “Reactive Leadership,” a disease that has decimated modern government. When faced with multi-faceted challenges, we need proactive leaders willing to stand up for their beliefs. When we screen candidates, we ask them to reveal three characteristics: strategic thinking, proactive approaches and rational thought, meaning the ability to listen and evolve positions as facts present themselves. 

I assure Mr. Dyett, or whoever is elected to the Town Board this November, that things will not be easy. What assurances do we have that when things become difficult, when tempers flare, when emotion eradicates logic, and it will, that Mr. Dyett will simply not walk away again? 

It takes moral character to be a leader, especially a leader in a town where going to the store leads to multiple half-hour discussions on issues. But that’s Shelter Island and that’s why no one should be willing to quit on our future.

GARY BLADOS Chairman, Shelter Island Republican Party 

Comp Plan concerns

To the Editor:

Understandably, the article in the last issue on the recent hearing on the draft comprehensive plan gave only a glimmer of the many concerns I expressed on behalf of Shelter Islanders for Clean Water and Responsible Zoning with both the process and substance involved. A slightly fuller and updated statement of our concerns can be found at cwrzsi.com/compplan.

Also, to aid the public’s review of the plan that will ultimately be submitted to the Town Board, we urge that the task force simultaneously post on its website a document showing all the changes, at least in the text, from the 200-page draft it posted prior to the recent hearing. There is software that can easily generate such a document.

STEPHEN JACOBS, Shelter Island

What’s in the Plan?

To the Editor:

After reviewing the Comprehensive Plan Update, I have the following concerns and observations regarding its creation and contents. The Comprehensive Plan Update’s suggested zoning changes and those to be considered simply do not adhere to the current Comprehensive Plan nor to the Town Code of Shelter Island. 

There are many new Districts, Programs and Master Plans which were not discussed in Committee meetings that need further definition and clarification. There are no goals or action Items listed within the Zoning chapter despite the fact that a new Marine Business District, and the merging of B-1 zone with B zone, as suggested, will necessitate revisions to current Town Zoning Code and Land Uses once this Plan is adopted. This is an erratic and incomprehensible presentation of what the updated Plan appears to achieve — increased density in designated Critical Environmental Areas, business development and expansion on nonconforming lots, weakening of the Noise ordinance, and the creation of Planned Development District and Floating zones.

The projected fiscal impact of these zoning changes and infrastructure developments must be delineated and justified to warrant public support. These Update additions must be reviewed by CPAC to assess their purpose and impact to the community character, quality of life, public benefit, and critical environmental areas of the Island.

To quote the Update: “A comprehensive plan helps to establish the rationale for zoning decisions which help to ensure that future development is consistent with the community’s overall goals and vision. Islanders support transparent and responsive government and the rights of the general public are vital to maintaining a healthy community.”

If this is true, then the public is entitled to a Plan that reflects the community’s goals and visions for the future not the goals and visions of those who gain to profit from such actions.

PAM DEMAREST, Shelter Island


To the Editor:

In an ad in last week’s Reporter, I stated that Suffolk County Water Authority was a “for profit company.” In fact Suffolk County Water Authority is actually registered as a not-for-profit company. They are a New York State Authority and a Public Benefit Corporation. My apologies for the mistake. 

I am still in favor of keeping control of our own water and fighting to protect what we have. I do not see any urgency for an Island-wide water delivery system at this time.

TOM CRONIN, Shelter Island

Editor’s Note: Mr. Cronin is a candidate, for Town Board on the Republican line.

Sit, relax, enjoy

To the Editor:

I recently walked through Mashomack with a friend. The benches by Jack were a great idea! It was very nice to be able to sit, relax and enjoy the surroundings.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoy volunteering there, working outside, clearing around the Manor House and “playing” pick up sticks by the Visitors Center.

The employees there are very professional, friendly and full of interesting facts and information on the area.


Thank you

To the Editor:

Congratulations to Editor Clancy and all his staff on your well-deserved awards. The Reporter is a great paper and a wonderful part of our community, and we appreciate it muchly!