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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: October 12, 2023

A Shelter Island farewell

To the Editor:

Last Friday, a memorable event occurred at Louis’ Beach.  Janet Culbertson, an eco-feminist, activist and hospice patient, had one last wish; “to get close to the water.”  Throughout her extensive travels to experience the planet, she painted the Earth’s diverse creatures and landscapes, exploring their beauty and demise.  Many of us were fortunate to have heard her stories about painting on the Galapagos Islands, the animals of Africa, the Grand Canyon and the subtle waters of Long Island. 

That Friday was picture perfect, with calm waters and a clear blue sky.  Surrounded by friends, she spent an enjoyable time at the beach and, amazingly, never required the oxygen that was brought to assist her.  It was an experience that I will treasure forever and never forget.  Janet passed peacefully one week later.  Love you, Janet.  Thanks for sharing. 

Laurie Fanelli, Shelter Island

Please don’t speak for me

 To the Editor:

In the Reporter Letters to the Editor section on 10/5, Gordon Gooding, my opponent for Town Supervisor, stated his belief that I “pivoted” and followed him and others on the Comprehensive Plan. I did not “pivot” and I don’t follow others.  I thoughtfully listen and think through issues and weigh in when ready.  No one should mischaracterize my open mind to hear what the consultants and public had to say as a pivot.

The Task Force and the Comp Plan Committee, not the Town Board, have been working on this for three years. I personally, have let them do their work and have only occasionally listened in on a meeting. So some of this is new to me as I don’t feel micromanaging the Plan is the Town Board’s purview. 

We are not ready to adopt this plan and my clarity on that should be taken as a sign of flexibility and responsiveness to the Island community, as well as my professional assessment of the document.

The plan is not ready to come to the Town Board; further public input is needed.  I am glad that the broader community is engaged and look forward to the discussions to come.

But, if we are going to speak of perceived pivots, it is nice to see Team Gordon pivoting so forcefully on the affordable housing issue. I was surprised to see in their 10/5 advertisement that they are now 100% for affordable housing. Since the campaign started, I had the opposite impression. But perhaps, I too shouldn’t speak for my opponent.

 As a candidate, listening and responding to the community is the right approach, for all of us.

Amber Brach-Williams

Editor’s note: The writer is a candidate for Town Supervisor on the Republican ticket.

Questions demand answers

To the Editor:

Why is Deputy Town Supervisor Brach-Williams allowing certain new home construction in the tidal wetlands without a wetlands permit, even inside the prohibited 75’ vegetative buffer, while enforcing the wetlands ordinance for all the others?  Does it depend on how wealthy the owners are and how massive and expensive the house will be? Surely the home at 71C Nostrand Parkway is one of the most expensive homes per square foot ever. Should that matter? 

A limited wetlands permit expired in July 2020 before construction began and was only for a renovation. Are all residents treated equally regarding enforcement of wetlands codes? Apparently not. This issue was addressed directly in writing to Deputy Town Supervisor Brach-Williams and she has declined to give any explanation whatsoever. Our Town Councilors have not responded either. This is disappointing.

Why are those who file an online code complaint not receiving an acknowledgement of the receipt of the complaint and a response to the investigation? Supposedly, these reports are being handled apparently by the Office of the Town Attorney.  Wetlands violations and zoning violation complaints have been filed on this same property to no avail and with no response. Why?

 What is really going on here? I have asked this question by filing a timely appeal to the ZBA as the aggrieved neighbor. The response was that the ZBA voted not to even have the required hearing to consider my appeal although a violation of New York law providing a right to appeal the issuance or denial of a building permit.

As a result, there is no public hearing to ferret out the truth. Truth is being obfuscated. Candor and transparency is on the ballot on Nov. 7 for the next town supervisor. A changing of the guard is in order if open governance is desired.


Gearing up for the 5k

To the Editor:

It’s that time of year again. October brings us to Breast Cancer Awareness month.  If you are lucky enough to still have a pink ribbon that was so kindly made by Shelter Island High School shop class some years ago and painted by many volunteers, please display it near the road in a visible spot in order to remind people to get screened.

If you don’t have one, please talk to your friends and family about being screened for Breast Cancer and learn your breast density so you can get further screening if needed. Mammograms are available to everyone regardless of insurance these days.

I am once again walking the 5K here on Shelter Island on Oct. 21 to both raise funds for and awareness about women’s cancers.

Please help me with a donation to the North Fork Breast Health Coalition via Team Flamingo in our effort at the 5K. I know I have counted on many of you in the past and I hope you will continue your support. 

If you wish to mail me a check please make it to NFBHC (North Fork Breast Health Coalition) and send it to : Towny Montant, P.O. Box 1198, Shelter Island Hts. N.Y. 11965 (please put Team Flamingo in the memo line). If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me.

Many thanks for all your help again this year. See you at the 5K.


Towny Montant, Shelter Island

Ask about water use

To the Editor:

Let’s tap our valuable water supply to support community housing initiatives, not green lawns and green fairways. Stop me the next time you see me walking along the road and I will explain.


Thank you, John Needham

To the Editor:

I would like to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to John Needham, our resigning Chairman of Waterways Management Advisory Council. The demands of our current community and its behavior have placed a significant burden on John as a volunteer. It’s important that we all pause for a moment to reflect on this.

However, the primary purpose of this letter is to extend a massive thank-you to John, a true gentleman with a heart of gold and an exceptional sense of humor. He has consistently been there, just a phone call away, always ready to assist a friend, co-worker, or neighbor.

During our time working together, John’s dedication and passion were abundantly clear. He cares deeply not only about our waterways but also about our environment, town, and community as a whole. John possesses a brilliant mind that engages in lively debates and arguments, always culminating in hearty laughter.

I will undoubtedly miss working with John, but I am optimistic about catching glimpses of him in the “peanut gallery.” As I’ve come to understand all too well, it’s not so easy for him to let go — in the best way possible!

Thank you, John, for your unwavering commitment and friendship. We are fortunate to have had you as our Chairman, and your legacy will endure in the positive impact you’ve brought to our community.

Kristina Martin Majdisova, Administrative Assistant and Clerk to WMAC

Paying for the wall twice?

To the Editor:

So let me get this straight. Trump started building the border wall. Shortly after being sworn in, Biden stopped construction of the wall.  In August of this year, Biden sold off at auction millions of dollars of stockpiled materials for the wall for pennies on the dollar.

Fast forward to October and Biden announces we are going to start building the wall again. So I guess we, as taxpayers, will be buying the materials for a second time due to Biden’s crookedness or feebleness. I think he should have to pay the difference with the money he and his family personally received from China.

I wonder if we will end up buying those same wall components at full price back from the people who bought them at auction? Whether you are for or against the wall, I’m sure you don’t want to pay for it twice!

PETER S. REICH, MAC, EWMP, Shelter Island