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01/03/17 12:26pm
ANNETTE HINCKLE PHOTO George Fox Lane, which is close to the landlocked parcel the town is considering for purchase and preservation.

ANNETTE HINCKLE PHOTO George Fox Lane, which is close to the landlocked parcel the town is considering for purchase and preservation.

Shelter Island is on track to pick up 4.5 acres of undeveloped property for $25,000. (more…)

01/13/14 4:30pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The idea of attending town meetings remotely is making the rounds at town Hall.

As lines are being blurred between what’s reality and virtual reality, how long will it be before town officials can “attend” meetings without being physically present? And when will the public be able to “attend” meetings in their pajamas, staring at screens, weighing in on the proceedings?

That time might be now. (more…)

08/09/13 3:00pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

News came this week that the Island’s Community Preservation Fund just got a lot healthier via a large cash injection.  This brought smiles to the faces of Supervisor Jim Dougherty and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who released the figures.

But it also produced frowns from many who see this as another indicator of our Island changing forever, and for the worst.

The CPF, also known here as the “2-percent fund,” is financed by a two-percent tax buyers pay on real estate deals. The money goes into the fund and is solely dedicated to open space acquisitions.

The new report shows a 205 percent increase in the first six months this year over the same period last year. Shelter Island led all other East End towns in gains by percentage. Time to celebrate, according to Mr. Thiele, Mr. Dougherty and others who cited two significant benefits. First, there’s more money to preserve land from being paved over by development and the natural beauty of these parcels is preserved forever. And second, more property deals is a bright sign the real estate market is roaring back from the dark days of just a few years ago.

But we can almost hear the groaning of those who say a growing CPF fund is an indication of the cliff we’re barreling toward.

When we ran a story a few months back (“Un-Hamptons or new Hamptons?”) looking at a suddenly healthy real estate market led by listings of multi-million dollar estates, there was plenty of protest. The Island, some people said, was becoming just another “discovered” place and our unique character was being smothered by high-end brands and lowlife characters with money.

The Island was changing, and not for the better, it was said. We have lost something and will never get it back. We agree. We also note that just as everyone who reaches a certain age faces the situation that there are things that are never coming back, so places change. It’s a cliché that older generations distinguish themselves from younger ones by telling them tales — and boring them — of how it was all so much better in the old days.

You can’t stop progress, is a tired old saw, which holds some truth, but doesn’t apply here. The 2-percent tax on real estate deals is stopping progress, considering that money collected goes to preserve land for all of us and not just the wealthy.

If it wasn’t for the efforts of the town’s Community Preservation Advisory Board, led by Chairman Peter Vielbig, targeting property to preserve, and Supervisor Dougherty and the Town Board that pulls the trigger on open space acquisitions, there would be precious little left to remind us of what this place was and continues to be.
And if it wasn’t for the realtors — who provide work for Islanders in multiple professions, businesses and trades — making deals, there wouldn’t be money to make decisions to keep a large part of Shelter Island green.

08/02/13 2:11pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) said the new CPF figures were good news on two fronts.

In the first six months of 2013,  money flowing into the Island’s Community Preservation Fund soared more than 205 percent over the same period last year.

That was the largest increase by percentage in CPF money of any East End town.

Numbers released by Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) showed Shelter Island receiving $1.16 million through June as opposed to $380,000 in the January to June period of 2012.

The so-called “2-percent” or CPF fund is financed by a two percent tax buyers pay on real estate deals, with the first $250,000 of the sale price exempted for Island deals. That money goes into a town’s CPF fund and is solely dedicated to open space acquisitions.

CPF money was up across the board for the five East End towns to the tune of 48 percent, or a total of about $49 million for the first six months of 2013, as opposed to $29.6 million for the same period last year.
East Hampton was second to Shelter Island in most money collected, up 59 percent, while Southold had the lowest number, with an increase of about 4 percent.

Mr. Thiele said the news was positive in two ways. “This is good news for Shelter Island for land preservation, but it also shows that the real estate market is recovering nicely,” Mr. Thiel said.

Peter Vielbig, Chairman of the town’s Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board, said there was another reason for the spike in funds. With new tax laws

Supervisor Jim Dougherty welcomed the new figures. “This is very, very good news,” Mr. Dougherty said.

Peter Vielebig, Chairman of the town’s Community Preservation Advisory Board said there was another factor at play  in the robust amount of money coming into the funds coffers. He noted that there was a spike in real estate deals in November and December of last year with buyers and sellers getting ahead of new lax laws slated to kick in with the new year.

“But because the way the collection process works, by the time we get the check it’s usually a couple of months after the sale is made,” Mr. Vielebig said.

January and February collections were “tremendous” he added, a result of the end of 2012 sales. The amount of money coming in dropped significantly in March and April, Mr. Vielebig said, but got much stronger in May, June and July.

“We have some debt we have to keep in mind,” Mr. Vielbig said. “But it’s good to have money to work with when someone comes by with a piece of land we can negotiate with knowing we have the money.”

Mr. Dougherty said that strategy and cooperation were important now in light of the new figures. “There remains a lot of open space opportunities where we have to take the quiet and respectful initiative,” he said.

Last spring Mr. Dougherty and Mr. Vielbig were at loggerheads over acquiring the St. Gabriel Retreat Center property on Coecles Harbor.

Mr. Dougherty said the new numbers were “encouraging, but we’ll still need assistance from the county and others to raise money to make the open space acquisitions I want to make.”

Since the fund was made into law in 1999, the East End has received more than $833 million to buy open space.