08/17/15 10:00am
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Proud grandad Greg introducing a Shelter Island tradition to the little one.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Proud grandad Greg Sulahian introducing a Shelter Island tradition to  little Westin.

Saturday’s Shelter Island Fire Department’s annual Chicken Barbecue was a tasty and fun-filled event.

Below are some sights from the great community gathering at St. Gabe’s field captured by Bev Walz. (more…)

04/18/14 5:00pm


The pile of sand-encrusted snow that lived in the corner of the Reporter’s parking lot for the entire winter is finally gone. At the beach, piping plovers are building their nests, although a snowy owl was spotted just a day before. After the winter we had, even he doesn’t know it’s time to fly away. Maple trees shoot out the tiniest buds, forsythia bloom and our friends return from warmer places. (more…)

Featured Story
03/26/14 4:30pm
REPORTER FILE PHOTO A view of the St. Gabe’s land that was preserved by the town, Suffolk County and the Shelter Island Fire Department, in conjunction with some Burns Road neighbors for ongoing use by the department for its annual chicken barbecue.

A view of the St. Gabe’s that was preserved by the town, Suffolk County and the Shelter Island Fire Department, in conjunction with some Burns Road neighbors for ongoing use by the department for its annual chicken barbecue.

The ‘Observer’ observed
It was 50 years ago that the Reporter editorial column was devoted to taking to task an anonymous writer who dubbed himself the “Observer.” While the community apparently assumed these frequent columns were written by someone on the paper’s staff, editor and publisher Walter Schumann wrote at the time that was not the case and bluntly said the writer was “nuts.” In any case, the Observer apparently stirred up a hornets nest by suggesting Shelter Island should bring in industry to this peaceful and beautiful area. (more…)

08/13/11 7:00am

PETER BOODY PHOTO | GOP candidate for supervisor Bob DeStefano calls for a referendum on preserving the St. Gabe’s property at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

A petition calling for a public referendum this November to cut the terms of future town councilpersons from four to two years was submitted to the Town Board at its work session on Tuesday by Islander Richard Kelly.

He said it had been signed by 161 people.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty said in response that Town Attorney Laury Dowd would research the matter — as well as two other petitions Mr. Kelly submitted on Tuesday — and put the topic on the board’s work session agenda for discussion next week, Tuesday, August 16.

One of Mr. Kelly’s two additional petitions —  with 162 signatures, he said — calls for a public vote on whether or not the town should continue its tick-killing “4-poster” project, through which a pesticide is applied to the heads and necks of deer as they feed on corn at 15 baiting stations.

The other asks the Town Board to abandon its proposal to redraft the town’s rules on the expansion and abandonment of pre-existing, non-conforming business uses in residential zone. Mr. Kelly said 93 people had signed that petition.

Both Mr. Dougherty and Town Councilwoman Chris Lewis called that number “significant.” Mr. Dougherty told Mr. Kelly, “We’ll consider it.”


Mr. Kelly wasn’t the only one calling for referenda in November.

Republican candidate for supervisor Bob DeStefano, speaking from the audience, asked the board to consider asking taxpayers if they’d support town acquisition of the vacant St. Gabe’s property, on the waterfront east of Burns Road. He said he’d heard from many Islanders that they wanted to see the property saved from development.

Supervisor Dougherty sounded skeptical, saying he’d been talking with the Passionist Fathers who own the former retreat and camp site, a 24.8-acre property with 1,500 feet of waterfront and 10 buildings, and they did not seem interested in negotiating a sale to the town, which cannot legally pay more than market value. He said the property is listed for sale at $19.5 million even though its assessed value “was maybe $11 million.”

“It’s high on my radar but these are hard times,” Mr. Dougherty said. Town “two-percent” money for open space purchases — funds raised through a two-percent tax paid by the buyers of real estate — were committed to pending purchases at Sylvester Manor.

“If you guys want to brainstorm this,” Mr. Dougherty said, “it’s fine with me. I’d love to preserve St. Gabe’s but I don’t think we can ask the taxpayers for the money in these times.”

He said the town tax rate would go up 20 to 30 percent to pay the debt service on a bond issue to fund a purchase, if a deal could be negotiated. He said he’d recently had a breakfast meeting with Father Bob Joerger, a Passionist official, to discuss the property, and that a “good group” of Islanders regularly meets with the Passionists “almost weekly” to talk about St. Gabe’s.


Also at Tuesday’s long work session, Supervisor Dougherty reported that the town’s Ferry Advisory Committee would be sending a letter to the North Ferry Company asking it to reconsider the part of its pending rate increase proposal that would hike five-day commuter passes by more than 18 percent from $22 to $26.

There was a long, testy discussion among Mr. Kelly, Ed Barr of the Ram Island Association and others over how to go about comparing the proposals of three environmental consultants for delineating wetlands on the Ram Island causeways.

After some arguing by Mr. Barr, Mr. Kelly and others — about the qualifications of the consultants and the basis for their prices, particularly in terms of what properties they would inventory — Supervisor Dougherty said the Town Board would bring in the three consultants for personal interviews next week. Although he preferred to do it in an open session, he said, the other board members favored a closed executive session of the board for the interviews. Under the Open Meetings Law, “personnel” matters may be discussed in closed sessions.

It was at a public hearing on the Town Board’s proposed causeway regulations in June that Mr. Kelly argued that much of the area may be wetlands protected by federal law. He said the town needed to hire a certified wetlands delineator to determine how much of the private property on the causeways might be “unbuildable” even without any new town regulations to limit development there.

Others, including the Group for the East End, urged the board to obtain a “yield map” of the causeway area to show how much of it is threatened by development — a step that would require the same technical delineation of wetlands.

Mr. Kelly has been urging the board to hire Steve Gross of Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting in Warwick, New York. Mr. Barr favored Louise Harrison, former executive director of Friends of the Bay and a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official.


Mr. Kelly, a frequent critic at Town Board work sessions and hearings whom Supervisor Dougherty recently branded “excitable” and prone to seeing “World War Four” just ahead, told the board that “it would show an honorable consistency” if it scheduled the vote on reducing councilperson’s terms.

He was a critic when a Town Board majority voted a year ago to schedule a referendum on extending the supervisor’s term from two to four years. In November, Islanders rejected the four-year term proposal by a vote of more than 900 to 200.

Councilwoman Chris Lewis has said the idea was initially hers. Supervisor Dougherty opposed the referendum last year, voting against putting it on the ballot. On Tuesday he referred to it as a scheme by “seven people in a back room.”

Town Attorney Laury Dowd commented Tuesday there was “a lot of work to do” to determine if the two petitions submitted by Mr. Kelly calling for ballot propositions met legal requirements.

There was little comment among board members on the issues raised by Mr. Kelly. Councilman Ed Brown said he didn’t “have a problem putting the 4-poster on the ballot” but had concerns about Mr. Kelly’s call for including precise costs in the proposition.

He noted that precisely how much the program costs the town varies depending on support from other entities. It was possible, he said, the Vector Control service of the county’s Health Department might take over the program.

Sixty 4-Posters were deployed in key sites on Shelter Island from 2007 into early 2011 under a five–year experiment that received $1.6 million in funding from sources including the state, county and town as well as private interests. The program was run by the Cornell Cooperative Extension under a permit from the state DEC. The town is continuing a scaled-down version of the program, deploying 15 4-posters at its own expense. They are located at South Ferry, Silver Beach, Sachem’s Woods, Goat Hill, the firehouses and several private tracts. The areas were chosen due to their dense deer and tick populations.

Mr. Kelly was one of a handful of staunch critics of the program, saying ticks and the diseases they carry did not pose a serious health and that the devices would pollute the environment and taint the deer herd with permethrin.

12/08/10 6:17pm

“This Night in Bethlehem,” a living Nativity written and directed by Margaret Kestler with music directors John Kaasik and Lisa Shaw, will be performed at St. Gabriel’s this year, thanks to a special arrangement with the Passionist Fathers. Performances will be held on Friday, December 17 at 8 p.m., Saturday, December 18 at 5 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 19 at 12:30 p.m.

A large cast of Shelter Island students and community members will once again convey the spirit of Christmas, telling the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Christ through music, song and dance.

Seating is limited at all performances, so early reservations are encouraged. Admission is $25 for adults and $10 for students ages 18 years and under. Checks can be sent to Our Lady of the Isle, P.O. Box 3027, Shelter Island Heights 11965, attention Maureen Johnston; you can also call Maureen at 749-0001 or call Theresa Andrew at 258-4707. Be sure to indicate the number of tickets and the performance you wish to attend.

Sponsorships are needed to help pay for the performances at St. Gabriel’s. The money raised will be used for programs at Our Lady of the Isle, which include the Outreach and youth programs. Sponsorship opportunities are available at the following levels —  $5,000 will underwrite the production of the show. Other levels include: $1,000, Star of Bethlehem sponsorship; $500, Three King sponsorship; $300, Angel sponsorship; $200, Shepherd sponsorship and $100, Manger sponsorship. All sponsors will be listed in the program.