What’s the rush?
To the Editor:
Last February the Fire Commissioners said they had to have a new cell tower on Cobbetts Lane because Southold was switching to a “high-band” emergency communications system and the Island had to follow suit.
Southold has since confirmed that isn’t true, and the commissioners have acknowledged they could put up a high-band antenna on the existing tower at the Recycling Center if they wanted to. When then asked why they still needed a new tower, the commissioners mentioned “dead spots” in the Hay Beach area. But dead spots can be addressed with other technologies that don’t require a 120-foot tower in the middle of a residential area. Cell nodes on utility poles, an upgrade of the existing tower and a new but much shorter tower are possibilities that should be considered. When asked whether they were going to look into alternative solutions, the commissioners simply said no.
You have to wonder what is really behind the tower proposal. If town officials are willing to sell off our precious natural assets, which is what this would involve, in order to raise some money, without giving serious consideration to whether this is really necessary, and without fully disclosing the financial motivation behind the project — what’s the money for, who’s going to decide and is this a sustainable fiscal strategy? — then they are setting a very bad precedent for the future.
We need thoughtful government focused on the long-term well-being of the Island, not short-term gain, that does its homework and is accountable for the reasons why and the manner in which it wants to fill its coffers. All who care about the future of this special Island should be concerned about this proposal and the way it is being handled. There are plenty of other natural assets that can be sold off if this is the path to be taken.
Let us hope the Town Board takes a more thoughtful approach when it considers whether to grant a special permit for the tower. Knowing our alternatives is an essential first step and an independent engineer can tell us what they are. The board should use its authority under the Town Code to hire an independent expert, with costs paid by the developer, to figure out what the communications problems really are and whether a new tower is really necessary to solve them. Let’s not sell out if we don’t have to.
To the Editor:
In my travels “doing” history, I almost daily come upon stories that I could delve into and tell, if only I had more hours in the day. And, the more I “do,” the more stories there are that are brought to my attention. Some examples are: Shelter Island native and New York entrepreneur Renssaelaer Havens’ role in the life of Shelter Island’s youth in the early 19th century; Mr. Worthington, the birder, whose file sits on my desk; the DEC’s effort to deal with nuisance deer in 1916; and the financial plight of Mary Catherine Havens L’Hommedieu after her husband died in 1811.
There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stories hidden in the archives of the Shelter Island Historical Society and also the Sylvester Manor Collection at the Fales Library at New York University, where unfortunately, much of Shelter Island’s history resides.
I have a 15-year-old working with me on the Dering letters transcriptions this summer who has accepted the challenge to write a play based on some of the Dering letters at the Historical Society between a 12-year-old girl and her father. A professional playwright has agreed to consult with her. How exciting can that be?
I believe there must be other self-motivated teenagers on this Island this summer able to spend a good part of their time during the next six to eight weeks exploring a story, solving its mysteries and writing it up for publication.
And I have no doubt there are retired men and women with pied-a-terres in New York City who would welcome an excuse to explore the files at the New York Historical Society, the New York Public Library, Columbia University and the Fales. If only they just knew where to start.
Are there others who must explore locally who appreciate a good mystery and would feel challenged to solve it on their own? Folks like me can direct them in the right direction and consult along the way.
For your first assignment, call me at 749-3028 or Phyllis Wallace at the Historical Society, 749-0025.