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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: March 7, 2024

Hat in the ring

To the Editor:

I am writing to seek the open Town Board position as an Independent. The desire to foster a dynamic and robust community compels me to throw my hat in the ring. There are urgent environmental and social concerns challenging us. Now is the time to move ahead with solutions, not the time for political stalemate.

As a fourth-generation Islander, I have witnessed inevitable changes in the community. Our children attended the Shelter Island School and our grandchildren may as well.

All who live here have a common appreciation for maintaining the character of the Island while still keeping it hospitable and healthy. For me, that appreciation means serving on the West Neck Water District Board, the Water Advisory Board, membership in the Lions Club, fundraising for organizations, including the Shelter Island Historical Society.

I have vigorously negotiated to keep local control of our water resources. It is an honor to be one of countless volunteers who advise, serve, and help the Island community in so many ways.

Those of us who represent the voices of Shelter Island need to step up to bring consensus, not division, and work toward solutions, not political expediency.

As an Independent, I do not have to adhere to or be constrained by a political agenda. I have the freedom to analyze and seek resolutions to the issues we now face. The time for action is always now and I am ready to do the work.

LISA SHAW, Shelter Island

Come to a consensus

To the Editor:

Before I left office in December 2015, the Town Board initiated a Special Permit process for applicants with a house larger than 8,500 sq. ft., including older homes with substantial renovations which had to go through a more involved process with the Town Board other than just a Building Department permit.

After deliberation, it unanimously became law. Although not perfect, the thought was: adopt the law and improve on it over time including future Boards. Approximately 10 years ago we reduced it down to 6,000.

It can simply be addressed again. During the permit process the Board, with its resources, had a thorough review, which addressed  size of the house, substantial environmental issues, and its effect on the neighborhood, etc.

Aware of the issues, the Board has a better chance of getting in front of those issues before construction. At the work sessions there was a considerable amount of mitigation between the Board and the applicant, sometimes during the process an indication of a flat out “No” from the Board, which sent the applicant back to improve on it until we worked it out.

We understood it worked as a deterrent for some applicants since they did not want to go through the process, time and money that would be associated with the special permit, so they built a smaller house.

This law is a very overlooked, effective tool for the Town Board, the people of Shelter Island and the various issues they face. It did not need a study and a moratorium, just the Town Board’s willingness to work together to come to a consensus.

ED BROWN, Former councilman, Town of Shelter Island


To the Editor:

So please help me understand this. Is a Town Board member directing a town committee chairman not to speak to the Reporter called transparency or censorship?

PETER REICH, Former councilman, Town of Shelter Island

Out of the kiddie pool

To the Editor:

I was one of the 11 rejects applying to fill the fifth seat on the Town Board. It was extremely frustrating!

But look, the Republicans are organized and cohesive and executing a strategy that began with Amber not vacating her seat to run for supervisor. That’s why the seat is empty — to preserve options — and that’s permitted. The Democrats responded by not supporting a special election — also permitted strategy. (Do we really need a primary, too?) 

The dysfunction wastes time and energy. Nobody can claim innocence or a moral high ground in the process. Everyone made choices along the way.

But what real difference does political party matter? We are so behind in updating the Town Code and planning for the long-term sustainability of life here. Making it personal, or stoking partisanship, is a distraction and just immature. These are not fundamental liberal versus conservative conflicts. 

Even reasonable people can disagree. You can always find an “us“ versus “them” rhetoric if you don’t have anything of real value to add. 

I communicated to the Board that they need to bang out code changes while continuing to work on the bigger picture issues. Unfortunately, I don’t see a true sense of urgency. We seem to spend more time talking about having issues rather than solving them decisively. 

This isn’t brain surgery. Couldn’t we have amended the wetlands code in the time we’ve been complaining and debating who should oversee permits? Grandfathered irrigation termination? Still waiting!

To everyone exerting influence: Wow us with your intellect, work ethic and thoughtfulness, and not partisanship. The kiddie pool is out back. Time for adult swim — no diapers permitted. Stop making everything personal. Help solve problems. Choose words carefully and speak with respect. Pack agendas, circulate drafts upon drafts, and get public hearings scheduled. 

SEAN DAVY, Shelter Island