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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: Nov. 3, 2023


To the Editor;

Elections, both local and national, are a great opportunity to celebrate role models — leaders our children can look up to and aspire to be.

The Decency movement is a non-partisan, grassroots effort dedicated to restoring civility and mutual respect in our daily lives. With the support of the Shelter Island School District, the campaign took flight five years ago. Through classroom discussions and student initiatives, we built the momentum that launched the first National Decency Day, working with the town of Shelter Island to proclaim May 14, 2019 a Day of Decency.

Students from over 25 states across the country worked with their local governments achieving the same. In Washington D.C., support was voiced on both sides of the aisle in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Each year May 14 celebrates National Decency Day, but we all can “spread the word” on a daily basis by following the ABCs of Decency:

• Active Listening

• Better Communication

• Compassionate Citizens

Vote for Decency. Today and every day.

LISA CHOLNOKY, Shelter Island

False hope

To the Editor:

While I applaud Dr. Zisfein for tackling the complex issue of weight loss in his Oct. 26 column, unfortunately the data does not support his statement “once you lose that 10% to 20% weight, your weight will stabilize …” He implies the drugs can be discontinued and weight loss maintained. Not true. 

A recent study in the peer-reviewed journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism showed that once people stop taking these semaglutides (Ozempic and Wegovy), the odds are the weight will be regained. 

I worry that statements such as his will give people false hope that these expensive drugs, whose long-term side effects have not yet been studied, are the solution.


Not to be hidden

To the Editor:

As the Island prepares to move forward with our affordable housing program, it’s important for each of us to consider what the term means to us.

Not to be redundant, but affordable housing is housing that is affordable. It is not something that should be considered “less than” or something that should be hidden. Those qualifying for affordable housing do not need to be babysat or have conditions placed on them that other Islanders do not. Those who qualify should not have to do more for the community than other Islanders — they simply qualify for affordable housing.

Placing parameters on recipients of affordable housing makes assumptions that they have to earn it or they somehow do not deserve it. Don’t we all deserve a home we can afford? Food, shelter, clothing, water and air are the first level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which proposes that if these needs are not met, an individual will struggle to reach the next levels, culminating in self-actualization — the desire to become the most that one can be.

Let’s all take a look at what comes to our minds when we hear affordable housing and stick with redundancy — leave the judgments and assumptions out of it.

Let us be the most that we can be.

KATHLEEN LYNCH, Shelter Island

Give us a chance

To the Editor:

I’m a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, working with the Task Force on the Comprehensive Plan.

I have been reading letters in the Reporter that seem to be highly critical of the plan and the committee. Since the Open Workshop in September, we’ve been meeting regularly to begin the process of reading and discussing the many comments received, on the boards that day, via the town website, and letters submitted.

We all are gratified so many Islanders have responded to the draft with comments and suggestions. These have been enormously helpful to us as we realize areas that were missed, need better focus, or simply corrected. We have already addressed quite a few common points regarding zoning, the structure of the chapters, and that possibly divisive reference to full-time vs. second-home owners. As we work, we are amending and changing the document.

As of this week we are still focused on Chapter 4, so we have a way to go to get through the 11 chapters. When we have worked through all the comments we will send changes to the consultants for another rewriting. The public will get to see this.

It is disheartening when I read that we are seemingly ignoring public comments and being criticized for errors or omissions that we are in the process of both acknowledging and correcting.  The remaining group of citizens on the advisory committee are eager to help the Task Force craft a plan that is workable for our community and will preserve what we all love about Shelter Island and acknowledge what we need to be mindful of in terms of the needs of people and the environment. 

Please give us a chance to do that and consider supporting us. We are doing this for you and Shelter Island’s future.

WENDY TURGEON, Shelter Island

Listen to Islanders

To the Editor:

The most recent article on the status of the Comprehensive Plan reports that Task Force Member Meg Larsen “can’t see how the work the Comp Plan group has to do could be completed before the end of the year.” But recent actions betray an intent to continue rushing the plan with the goal still of enacting it by the end of the year..

At one of the four meetings of the Comprehensive Advisory Committee (CPAC) held between Oct. 13 and Oct. 23, it was revealed that a draft of the plan had been submitted to the Suffolk County Planning Commission (SCPC) for its review. The public has not been informed exactly what was submitted. Nor has it been informed who decided to submit something and when that decision was made. 

It is clear, however, that the submission was made while CPAC was still reviewing the voluminous comments received by the public on the draft that was the subject of the September 23, 2023 public hearing at which most speakers offered critical comments. Indeed, CPAC has still not finished the review of the public comments and does not have another meeting scheduled until Nov. 27.

Now we have learned that Ms. Larsen and her fellow Task Force member BJ Ianfolla are scheduled to appear before the SCPC on November 1 to discuss the plan, which is far from complete, even further from having gained broad public support.

These actions suggest that the Task Force is more interested in trying to complete a Comprehensive Plan by the end of the year than it is in really listening to Islanders and taking the time necessary to come up with a good plan that has wide support.

Shelter Islanders for Clean Water and Responsible Zoning — Patrick Clifford, Stephen Jacobs, James Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Lucille Morgan

A right to be concerned

To the Editor:

How can the ZBA determine the merits of a timely appeal of the issuance of a building permit argued as improper, without giving the person even a hearing?

That is exactly what happened on August 23. The ZBA voted that it did not see the merit of even having a hearing to decide the merits of my appeal despite longstanding NY Town law that requires an appeal to be heard, first by the ZBA before it can be appealed to the Riverhead Court. Why would the ZBA do this and force a property owner to spend many tens of thousands of dollars to go through litigation in the Suffolk Supreme Court instead of allowing the appeal to be fully presented at the ZBA?

These are hard questions every property owner should be concerned about. Since when can the ZBA not hear an appeal just because they don’t feel like it and avoid its legal duties when a property owner must first exhaust his/her administrative remedies before the ZBA? How can the Board of Ethics pick and choose what complaints of corruption it is willing to investigate?

A detailed complaint alleging the possibility of corruption within the Town has been made only to be told this does not appear to be within the purview of the Ethics Board. If the Ethics Board does not want to investigate corruption what good is it?

By its bylaws, it cannot even investigate sexual harassment or emotional abuse. All residents are right to be concerned about the murky ways in which our boards operate.