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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: April 4, 2024

Close the Bowditch gate

To the Editor:

The town of Shelter Island is violating a 20-year agreement they made with the Bowditch Road neighborhood.

Ask any local about the conversations regarding the Highway Department building, and they will remember this agreement. The due diligence was extensive. It was an arduous but ultimately successful process.

In 2004 the voting public was repeatedly reassured that the Bowditch neighborhood would be protected if the barn was moved to their community. The Reporter wrote the following in September 2004: “Access to the Bowditch Road site would be through the existing roadway off Menantic Road. The Bowditch gate would be used only during storms, with trucks limited to right turns to avoid the road’s most settled residential area.”

And in October 2004: “There will be no regular traffic onto Bowditch Road from the new barn if it is located there. Regular access would be through the Recycling Center to and from Menantic Road.” The vote was accepted, the barn was built, and for 20 years the flow of traffic and terms of use have proven safe.

Until now: the new administration began an abrupt change of use without public notice. They are using Bowditch Road as the main entrance for the building. Our once quiet road is being bombarded with noise and traffic, and we again fear for our safety.

In a meeting recently the town attorney said it was likely “just a gentleman’s agreement.” Knowing this island and being acquainted with some of its iconic local officials, we can easily understand if a group of Islanders 20 years ago felt like a handshake deal was good enough. A handshake once meant something here.

Why has that changed? Why is our safety and quality of life no longer a priority?

K.D. HUST & ROB GORCOFF, Shelter Island

Better Island for whom?

To the Editor:

Mark your calendars for May 6. 

That’s when you can voice your opposition to the proposed “Pyramid Law.” It’s being proposed by the new “A Better Island for All,” (or for Them?) Town Board members.  While it may influence a house’s siting on a lot, it does nothing to limit house size.

With the proposed Pyramid Law, a 6,000 square-foot home could still be built on a quarter-acre lot. Email me — [email protected] — and I’ll show you the calculations. This law would change the status of a huge number of homes in C-zone and almost all the homes in the Heights to pre-existing non-conforming.

 That means that you would now have to go through the lengthy and expensive process of having to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals before getting a building permit for many additions or projects on your property.

A much saner solution for “All” of the Island would be the sliding scale solution presented by Councilwoman Meg Larsen, which would only allow for a 3,000-square-foot home on a quarter-acre lot.

Paul Shepherd and I had proposed a similar scheme years ago. While the “A Better Island for All” committee name implies they are for “All,” they are certainly not for me and many other Islanders, especially those living in C-zone of the Heights.

Please educate yourself on Meg’s sliding scale scheme and voice your opinion for something like that instead of the proposed Pyramid Law on May 6.

PETER REICH, Former councilman, Town of Shelter Island

New Island hypocrisy

To the Editor:

Last week’s overwhelmingly negative response to your editorial (“The New Island Politics,” March 21, 2024) was so transparent, so strident, and so hilarious, that I changed my mind: You were right in accusing certain actors of lacking “honesty” in their unspoken opposition to affordable housing.

Indeed, the best evidence of their guilt surfaced in their vehement denials. The Bard expressed it best: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

As I suggested last week, elite Democrats loath to be accused of not supporting policies which make them feel less guilty about being rich and successful — however ill-advised those policies may be or how it might adversely affect our standard of living or personal safety. Hence, we hear their cacophony of public praise for a policy they are secretly working to undermine during the Comprehensive Plan process.

The same Democrats who wrote last week on this page declaring their undying support for affordable housing forget how the so-called affordable housing referendum won by only 13 votes out of over 1,800 votes cast.

Given the 2-1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans voting in that election, a clear 40% (or more) of Democrats voted against the housing referendum. Yet, last week, they made it seem like Democrats, without a word of dissent, have supported public housing since Shakespeare’s time.

And so, the topsy-turvy politics of Shelter Island continues. Yes, I did donate $1,000 to elect Republicans during the last election cycle, even though every last one of them have publicly and honestly supported affordable housing. I did so because I believe that — despite that one shortcoming — only they can best administer taxpayer resources to the benefit of all Islanders.

If the Democratic Party’s mismanagement of its own finances is any indication of their competence, Islanders should not let any of them near municipal government again. Dishonesty and incompetence are a dangerous combination.

BOB KOHN, Shelter Island