12/20/13 1:00pm


Gift from Sandy Hook
To the Editor:

Since I started teaching at Shelter Island School in 2002, I’ve known the Island is a special place. I’ve admired from a bit of an outsider’s perspective the incredible camaraderie Islanders share. I’ve seen community members come together for common causes time and again and hold each other up when the worst has happened. This special Island spirit is something I’ve long admired from afar, until this week.

It started with my daughter’s Christmas wish — a “Molly” American Girl doll. Easy enough, I thought, until I discovered “Molly’s retirement” had been recently announced and she was only to be found on eBay for $300. When I tried to explain this to my daughter, she said quite simply, “Don’t worry Mama, Santa will find her for me. I’ve been a good girl.”

I was in big trouble. I decided I’d ask a few of my co-workers with older girls if they had a “Molly” around, since she’s been in production for many years. No one did, but what happened next was an incredible example of that Island spirit I’ve seen over the years. My co-workers called their relatives in other states, searched yard sale postings, and posted my daughter’s wish on their Facebook pages.

Students searched the backs of their closets. I received update after update of their personal searches for days. Then, thanks to Jacki Dunning’s tireless efforts, a friend of a friend had one for us. This “Molly” is “well-loved” I was told, and she belonged to a little girl in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The girl’s mother told me that “if there is one thing we have learned in the last year, it is making a child believe in goodness is paramount.”

“Molly” was mailed to us on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting; a little package full of the innocence and hope of a child. This “well-loved” “Molly” is far more valuable than any on eBay, and my daughter will be thrilled. However, she is not the only one to get a special gift this Christmas. I was on the receiving end of what makes Shelter Island special and it has filled me with joy and pride for the community in which I work. I was astonished that my co-workers went to the lengths they did, but as one of my students said quite nonchalantly, “This is Shelter Island. That’s what we do.”
Shelter Island School

4-poster co-opted
To the Editor:

An issue at the December 10  Town Board work session, not reported in this paper, was the disclosure of five hunting tree-stands being set up within 10 or 15 yards around one 4-poster. This occurred on Silver Beach Association property. Photographs were disclosed to the Town Board by yours truly. Based on the age of the steps and the fact that one tree-stand was built into a tree, this has been going on for two years or more.

Personally, I am in favor of using the 4-poster to hunt over. However, the present rules do not allow that. Hunters were told you cannot hunt within 300 feet of the 4-posters, otherwise the deer won’t feed at the station. What happened in this instance was not just a violation, it was the absence of enforcement. I have seen this happen with other 4-posters around the Island since this experiment started. What we have here is Texas-style “trophy hunting,” using the 4-poster as a feeding station, which does not contribute toward culling the herd.

This experiment has been co-opted and hijacked by a small cadre of hunters from its intended goal. I don’t think taxpayers should be paying for trophy hunting via 4-posters, any more than they should be paying for my bait and tackle when I go out fishing.

Because of the temptation for mischief and cronyism, I suggested changes to the Town Board. First: A location map of every 4-poster on Shelter Island should be on display at the Town Clerk’s office. Second: The 4-posters should be either pulled September 15th, or eliminate the 300-foot setback rule. Since they are calling for more 4-posters for next year, changes will have to happen.

Sharpshooters? First, I would like to thank Islander Vicky Weslek and hunters Bruce Raheb and Bill Smith for coming to Town Hall December 10 and advocating on behalf of local hunters’ rights to the Town Board on why we don’t need USDA sharpshooters on Shelter Island — that it is far more beneficial to the community at large to go with local hunters and that, if given the tools, which are baiting, shotgun, shorter setbacks and jack-lighting, from October 1st to January 31st, we would do a better job than having paid off-Island snipers. Some of these tools were removed as recently as this year by the DEC.
President, The Coalition For Sustainable Fish and Wildlife Habitat

An accident waiting
To the Editor:

If ever [there was] a moment to be grateful for, and exert our local control in our town government, now is the time. Sharpshooters, a/k/a yahoos with rifles, being brought to the Island is so repugnant it needs a thorough debunking.

All the Lyme disease is not worth a single fatal accident that could easily happen with the presence of armed men with immunity from prosecution running around shooting deer wherever they want. And that is the program that comes with bringing these paramilitary officers here to Shelter Island. Local year-round residents should be very concerned about the implications for the Island. Questions about the program and the personnel are only vaguely discussed. How would we know that the sharpshooters are mentally competent, not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or emotionally stable? What kind of warning system would be in place, and what controls would the local police have over the program?

If the town does go ahead with such a plan, I would demand vouchers for off-Island housing during the program. I would not keep my children on this Island during such a dangerous event.
Shelter Island

A candidate’s thanks
To the Editor:

I would like to thank everyone who came out and voted in the fire commissioner election. The 214 votes cast was nice to see. Up from 120 last year, I believe. Those who voted for me, I say thanks very much and the fight continues. I’m going to keep on doing what I do. It’s very hard to go against the machine that’s been running for many years. I realize that but I’m sure some would say it was nice to have a choice, even if I was the (gasp!) outsider.
Shelter Island

A noble effort
To the Editor:

Tuesday, December 10 was a big win for “Team Beresky.” While John did not win the election for fire commissioner, he did accomplish something very important. He made people more aware of this election. We have both spoken with many who have lived on this Island for years, who had never known about this election or the fact that any Shelter Island registered voter can cast a ballot. John also shook up the status quo, which is necessary every now and then.

My thoughts in this letter are in no way directed at Mr. Steinmuller, or any one individual, but rather at certain collective perceptions. I grew up here and attended Shelter Island School from kindergarten through high school graduation. Basically, aside from college and six years in Alaska, this has been my home. I am also currently employed by the town. My parents bought property here back in the 60s and my father, Lou Toth, built three homes here on that same acreage.

I have to say I am deeply disappointed by the short-sighted and close-minded attitude of many on this Island. The negativity experienced by one who is not “from here” is uncalled for. The “that’s the way it’s always been” mentality is stagnant and unproductive. If someone is qualified to do a job, why should he/she be discouraged from doing so? Why should someone be told, “how dare you?” or “who do you think you are to run in this election?” The democratic process is an important component of any election. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. What is the “old order” (or “team” as they like to be called) so afraid of? Why is a fresh, new perspective something to fear? Is there something to hide? How about some transparency and accountability?

Despite this prevailing attitude, John received a lot of love and support from many on this Island, and we thank you all for coming out to vote. John is a kind soul who drops everything to help a stranger in need. He saves the lives and property of complete strangers regularly as a New York City firefighter. He was working as a police officer with the New York Police Department on 9/11 and was there when the Twin Towers fell. He also worked rescue and recovery at Ground Zero for many months afterwards, exposing himself to a very toxic environment on a daily basis. He has anonymously paid the meal tab at restaurants for many of our military servicemen and women. He is a hero in my eyes, and like any true hero, would never refer to himself in that way.

I sincerely want to thank those of you who took the time to get to know more about John. If you see him around town, say hello. At the very least he will probably make you laugh, and you might just make a new friend. I would also truly like to thank each and every one of you who supported John in his run for fire commissioner. You do have a voice, and one of these days it will be heard.
Shelter Island

Holiday fire safety
To the Editor:
The following are a few suggestions that I hope will be helpful.

1. If a live Christmas tree is used, do not bring the tree into the house until the day you plan to use it.
2. Place the tree in a stand that will hold water, and keep it filled every day.
3. Never place the tree near the source of heat (fireplace, radiator, heating vent) or blocking exits.
4. Check all wires, plugs and sockets before they are placed on the tree.
5. Never use candles on or near the tree.
6. Use non-combustible decorations.
7. Remove the tree from the house as soon as possible and before the needles get too dry.
8. When using artificial trees, also check the wiring before placing on the tree.
9. Place all wrapping paper in a closed trash container as soon as possible.
10. Electrical toys for children should be supervised by an adult when being used.
11. If lighting decorations are used outdoors, make sure they are for outside lighting.
12. Regardless of the season, every family should work out a good fire escape plan. Get smoke detectors.
Shelter Island Fire District

01/11/13 8:00am

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | The Town Board met in work session Tuesday, January 8 to discuss a full agenda.

The Town Board was in a how-to state of mind at Tuesday’s work session.

On the agenda was deer management, debris cleanup from Hurricane Sandy, land stewardship and educating the public on controlling invasive and destructive plant species.

Admitting that the board was “playing catch up” in codifying management plans for property bought to preserve years ago, Supervisor Jim Dougherty and the board turned its attention to two parcels, Turkem’s Rest Preserve and Cackle Hill Preserve.

Purchased jointly with Suffolk County in 2006, Turkem’s Rest is about six acres of open space on South Midway Road opposite Dickerson Creek and bordered by Fresh Pond on the north. Almost half of the property is tidal wetlands, and has a history of aboriginal people living on or near it 3,000 years ago.

The preliminary management plan states there will be no “improvements on this property” and it “will need minimal maintenance.”

Public access will be strictly defined due to the ecological fragility of Fresh Ponds, with parking limited to the shoulder on the north side of South Midway road where there’s space for two or three cars.

A budget of $500 will be allowed for cleanup and clearing, the same amount for the Cackle Hill Preserve, 17 acres of wooded space off Stearns Point Road, purchased in 2007 from the Pike family.

This property also will be “unimproved.” It has, the management plan states, “extensive encroachment by vines and undergrowth.” The only entrance will be from the south side of Stearns Point.

The board discussed clearing the invasive plant species from both properties and also addressed the issue of signage, which Councilman Peter Reich said should be consistent in design for all public parcels. A bronze plaque on a large stone is in the cards to identify the parcels, give visitors directions toward paths and define the exact boundaries of the parcels.

This was a good idea, said Councilman Paul Shepherd since “it all looks good to me when I have my chain saw.”

Turning to deer management, Supervisor Dougherty told the board of a meeting last Friday in Riverhead of East End supervisors and village mayors to hear about a new legislative initiative from Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

The proposed legislation is inspired by what Senator LaValle has termed a “health crisis on two fronts,” which he described as tick-borne illness and fatalities from cars striking deer. The legislation was characterized as “still very early days,” by Supervisor Dougherty at the meeting. It would give more control of deer management to the East End municipalities, such as writing their own bow and arrow and firearm hunting restrictions, defining length of seasons and allowing town clerks to opt out of the licensing process.

One proposed change to help cull the deer herd would be to allow municipalities to alter state regulations on distances from structures allowed for the discharge of firearms and bows. Currently no firing of either weapon is allowed within 500 feet of a structure. One idea is to reduce the setback distance to 150 feet for bows, since most bow hunting is done from tree blinds, with the hunter shooting in a downward motion.

Mr. Dougherty said he had discussed licensing with Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar. Ms. Ogar reported there were about 80 deer hunting licenses issued by the town at a dollar a piece. One legislative proposal would be to let municipalities waive licensing. But the supervisor said he was in agreement with Ms. Ogar that knowing who is recorded by the clerk is a benefit to the town. There are only “one or two” people licensed that it’s important “to keep an eye on” Mr. Dougherty added, and licensing helps that process.

Public Works Commissioner Jay Card said the town would continue to waive fees at the Recycling Center for storm-related debris caused by Hurricane Sandy. The policy will stay through the end of the month when it will be reviewed, the board agreed.

Proof is required to show that any pieces of dock or bulkhead are truly storm debris and not merely old or worn out components that needed replacement anyway. Mr. Card said most of the vegetative debris on the ground was cleaned up and tree contractors have been taking down hanging limbs left from the storm that are a potential safety hazard.

Councilman Ed Brown noted that this might be the time for the town to promote an educational campaign to educate the public on the destructive capacity of invasive plant species. Mr. Brown said an inexpensive and effective way to get the message out would be to use the town’s public access Channel 22 for informative videos.

Supervisor Dougherty also announced he’d received reports that readings from all 13 Shelter Island wells had increased in quantity, some as much as four percent over previous months.

“This is very good news,” Mr. Dougherty said after the meeting. “With global warming, we could be having a drought in December.”