09/20/13 1:00pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Town officials Paul Mobius (from left), Mark Ketcham and Art Williams participated in a ribbon cutting in 2003 marking the official opening of a youth center at the town landfill.

It’s official — we have a youth center

Town officials, politicians, citizens and Island kids celebrated the opening of a youth center at the town’s landfill in September 2003. It was a temporary move until a more permanent solution could be found. Kudos went to Recreation Director Garth Griffin, Supervisor Art Williams and Highway Superintendent Mark Ketchum along with Town Board members and recreation committee members for making it happen. The center was a refurbished former portable classroom building.
POSTSCRIPT: The Legion Hall, acquired by the town in 2008 for the token payment of $1 with legionnaires retaining a life tenancy to use the property, houses today’s youth center and also  provides a home for many other community events.

Town’s ‘no soliciting’ law is questioned

The year was 1993 and highway superintendent candidate Mal Nevel in September was questioning why Town Police weren’t enforcing a ‘no soliciting’ local law that banned non-Islanders from going door-to-door to sell products or services. George Ferrer, who was police chief at the time, confirmed that the law wasn’t being enforced, saying it was unconstitutional As the law was written, a sales person would have had to have advanced permission from a homeowner. The law exempted residents or business owners who had been on Shelter Island for at least six consecutive months prior to the solicitation.
POSTSCRIPT: The law continues to appear in the town’s municipal code.

Protecting shellfish industry

A meeting on Shelter Island in September 1983 that included supervisors of three East End towns, and representatives of the Suffolk County Fisheries Development Council discussed how county funds could best be used to support the shellfishing industry and ways to limit out-of-state boats from over fishing squid in local waters. At that time, figures showed that more than one million pounds of squid had passed over East End docks during the month of June of that year.
POSTSCRIPT: Today’s concentration is on lobsters with local lobstermen generally supporting the state Department of Environmental Conservation closing Long Island Sound waters to lobster harvesting through to November 28. That decision was in line with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that regulates southern New England fisheries and marks the first time New York State is shutting down harvesting in the Sound.

Equipment antiquated; Greenport plant in trouble

Why 50 years ago would Shelter Islanders care that Greenport’s light plant was, with the exception of one generator, considered outdated? Hareleggers old enough to remember would tell you that in 1963, Greenport Village provided Shelter Island electricity. In 1960, Long Island Lighting Company purchased the Shelter Island Light and Power Co., a move Greenport opposed, saying it needed the Shelter Island business to keep afloat. For reasons not divulged at the time, LILCO, rather than linking Shelter Island up to its own generators, continued to buy power from Greenport to keep this town bright. The great debate at the time was for Greenport to decide whether to upgrade its plant or purchase its electricity from LILCO.
POSTSCRIPT: The Greenport Electric Plant continues in operation today, having undergone major upgrades in the last few years and the building, itself, is currently being upgraded. As for Shelter Island, it, of course is part of the Long Island Power Authority system that is currently engaged in a prolonged effort to provide backup power here since one conduit was knocked out by Super Storm Sandy and a second is aged.

08/31/13 11:31am

A Florida man pulled over for a traffic stop was arrested for driving while intoxicated early Saturday morning, Shelter Island Town police said.

Danilo S. Cardia, 43, of Punta Gorda, Fla. was stopped at 1:51 a.m. on St. Mary’s Road for failing to keep right and failing to stay in lane, police said. He was subsequently arrested for DWI, police said. He was arraigned at Shelter Island Justice Court and he posted $750 bail, police said.

He is due back in court at a later date.

08/31/12 8:28pm

PETER BOODY PHOTO | Ben Heinz speaking before the Town Board on Friday, alleging police intimation.

The sole person in the audience after the Town Board had concluded the agenda of its meeting Friday evening dropped a bombshell after the supervisor asked for any public comments or questions before concluding the session.

Ben Heinz strode to the podium and angrily demanded to know why Police Officer Tom Cronin had not been investigated for Mr. Heinz’s allegations that he had intimidated him because, according to Mr. Heinz, he had questioned the legality of Officer Cronin’s services to the town towing cars, a sideline business. According to Mr. Heinz, the town code prohibits town employees from contracting with the town for sideline work.

No board members nor the town attorney commented on the assertion.

Mr. Heinz alleged he had been threatened most recently on August 9 by the wife of the officer. He also  claimed that about two years ago the officer had forced Mr. Heinz’s vehicle off the road and that last year the officer had sat in a police car blocking his driveway for hours.

Mr. Heinz said there had been witnesses riding in his car two years ago and all had wondered why the town had never contacted them to obtain information about the incident. Likewise, people had heard the officer’s wife threaten him, he claimed.

“People in this town are terrified of them,” Mr. Heinz said of the police, explaining why no one else has publicly complained about what he called a well known problem. He said he had worked in the police department as a TCO (traffic control officer) and knew how the process worked: if a complainant leveled a charged against someone, it was investigated. In this case, he claimed, there has been no investigation.

“Why is the police department above the law?” he asked angrily.

Mr. Heinz said he had brought his complaint to the supervisor recently but nothing had been done. Supervisor Jim Dougherty responded that he had summarized Mr. Heinz’ complaints in an email to Police Detective Sergeant Jack Thielberg. “He says it’s in process,” Mr. Dougherty said.

Town Councilman Paul Shepherd thanked Mr. Heinz, a longtime volunteer fireman, for bringing the matter to the board. Mr. Shepherd said it was the first time he’d heard the allegations. “This is a difficult thing to do,” the councilman said, adding he was sorry “you had to get to this point … It offends me it has to come to that.”

“I cannot stand the thought …  anybody’s afraid in this town of the people who are supposed to keep them from being afraid,” Mr. Shepherd said.

Mr. Heinz has filed a notice of claim against the town “due to the actions of the police,” he told the board.

Board members, who also sit as police commissioners, agreed to convene a meeting of the police commission after Tuesday’s Town Board 1 p.m. work session on September 4. The meeting could be open to the public initially, Town Attorney Laury Dowd explained, but if an individual officer’s performance becomes a topic the law allows the commission to reconvene in a closed executive session.

Further details will be reported in the September 6 edition of the Reporter.