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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Oct. 19, 2023

Farewell to a good friend

To the Editor:

I met Doris Sliker just before her 100th birthday last December and was inspired to write this tribute to her, which her daughters asked me to send to the Reporter.

The winter light falls on Doris as she works the New York Times Spelling Bee. She’s thinking of a word with an “a,” five letters. She comes up with “cairn.” Not an everyday word. As macular degeneration dims her eyesight, she doesn’t have the visual cues, staring at the letters and forming words. She sees them in her mind.

She is 100.

Doris was a volunteer at the Shelter Island Library for 20 years, perched on a stool, chatting with patrons. She’s still an avid reader so her family gave her an iPad loaded with the NYT app and audio books, her constant companion. She is a queen of the Spelling Bee and often gets Wordle in three tries.

Her youthfulness belies her century of life, with bright eyes and curiosity of someone much younger. She sits in her light-filled Scandinavian house she built with her husband, white walls filled with artwork created by her children and grandchildren.

She never complains. No litany of aches and pains, though she must have them. She tells me, “I’ve lived my life,” without a trace of bitterness or regret.

Her longtime friend Jeanne Woods says, “Doris centers me.” This tiny woman is calm in the midst of a sometimes chaotic, always unpredictable life. “Everyone loves Doris!” her great-grandchild proclaims. She’s the person I aspire to be when I grow up, truly a queen bee.

Even if she beats me every time at “Words with Friends.”

JOANN KIRKLAND, Shelter Island

Editor’s Note: Doris Sliker died Oct. 12, just two months shy of her 101st birthday. Her obituary appears on page 4.

Wisdom from the East

To the Editor:

“If we don’t change the direction we are headed, we will end up where we are going.” Chinese proverb.

JEAN H. LAWLESS, Shelter Island

A fine, honest man

To the Editor:

So glad to read that Paul Shepherd has put his hat in the ring to once again run for Town Council. I know Paul Shepherd to be a fine, honest man of immense integrity who will bring heart and soul to his work for our beloved Island.

LEAH FRIEDMAN, Shelter Island

No fan of Comp Plan

To the Editor:

I want to add my voice to the chorus of opponents of the investment of time, money and raw emotion in the quest for a Comprehensive Plan. That doesn’t make me a racist or elitist. Rather, it makes me a frugal pragmatist.

The Comprehensive Plan is not-legally-binding on this or future town councils. It is a compendium of loosely defined goals, many of which are controversial and not enthusiastically supported by a majority of Islanders. Therefore, it is difficult to get a consensus on any specific proposal. For that reason, town councils have no mandate to adhere to it.

Ask any current or past Town Board member how often they referred to the existing plan when making decisions. The answer: Never. Why does anyone believe that this new one will be different?

What we don’t have, and where time should be allocated, is a Capital Budget Plan. Such a plan would provide a blueprint for the upkeep and maintenance of the town’s infrastructure, such as roads, beaches and other town properties, all valuable assets. Currently, we deal with these items on an emergency basis or when grant money is up for grabs. A Capital Budget Plan would provide tangible benefits for all Islanders.

Back to the Comprehensive Plan: Let’s cut our losses and move on. When the acrimony has subsided and the consultants have been paid — two so far and more than $100,000 — what we will be left with, when and if it is passed, will be a compromise document that will be put in a drawer to gather dust; until, that is, a future council a decade or so down the road comes up with a brilliant idea: Let’s do a new Comprehensive Plan!

DON BINDLER, Shelter Island

Bad decisions on Comp Plan

To the Editor:

It is hard to imagine better evidence that the comprehensive plan is being rushed than the fact that, after not having held any meetings since August, four meetings of the Comprehensive Advisory Committee (CPAC) were suddenly scheduled between Oct. 13 and 23. When was the last time any Town Board or committee met four times in 10 days? 

The Town Board and Comprehensive Plan Task Force previously marginalized CPAC by limiting the new consultants’ contact with CPAC to formal public meetings and depriving CPAC the opportunity even to review the significantly new draft plan the consultants and Task Force offered to the public shortly before the Sept. 23 hearing.  At the hearing, a clear majority of speakers expressed concerns about the substance and/or the process involved.

Suddenly, the task force and consultants sought to re-engage CPAC — after CPAC had shrunk to six of its original 12 members and lost those members who had been most critical of what was going on. This hasty attempt to manufacture the appearance of getting public input falls far short of what is required. It cannot make up for the failure to have given CPAC or the public a meaningful opportunity to be involved in the process since mid-March when the consultants were hired to complete the plan before the end of the year. 

It is now too late to generate a plan that is adequately supported by data, professional analysis, and public support before a new Town Board takes office in January.

Had the Town Board not suspended the comprehensive plan process for over six months in 2020, a plan could have been generated, subjected to meaningful CPAC, environmental, and public review, and properly enacted before the end of this year.  But that’s not what happened.


Aquifer, irrigation, permit abandonment

To the Editor:

Glenn Waddington’s letter from Oct. 12 makes a great point. Green lawns don’t happen magically, especially in times of drought. They require ample irrigation and fertilizer, and those fortunate to live in near shore areas have the misfortune of their neighbors having great views of those green lawns from our waterways. In dry years, we all know who is watering.

For those who like using the aquifer as a sword against community housing arguments, I hope they are gardening sustainably, and if not, I encourage them to abandon their irrigation permits as my wife and I did this year for the grandfathered permit that came with our home. There are better uses for our shared water supply, and more creative and sustainable ways to garden on the Island.