As expected, the Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday night approved a special permit for Andreas Hommert to renovate a house at 54G West Neck Road, but turned down a request to locate an air conditioning unit and generator in a lean-to attached to the back of the house. (more…)
This morning Carl Sabal will travel 30 miles north from his home in Ephrata, Pennsylvania to the town of Lebanon for an annual Veterans Day breakfast.
The 77-year-old Harelegger, born on West Neck Road in a house “down in the hollow,” will remember men he served with in the Third Army from 1959 to 1965, and all veterans everywhere. But he’ll have a special place in his memory for one Islander lost at sea 69 years ago this December along with 790 other Americans.
The retired truck driver has a memory that is still vivid and always will be, he said recently, of being a boy of eight when a visitor arrived in the second week of January 1945 to the house on West Neck Road.
In those days there was only one police officer on Shelter Island, a man named Sylvan Tybaert. “I remember seeing him coming down the driveway,” Mr. Sabal said.
His mother, Grace, had seen him too, and the sight triggered an intuition he was bringing a message to her. Being Shelter Island, Mr. Tybaert simply walked in the back door of the Sabal’s house holding a yellow Western Union telegram, a sign during the war years of terrible news.
“The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that Carl Edward Conrad, Machinist Mate 1st Class, is missing while in service to his country,” the telegram read.
“Her only brother,” Mr. Sabal said. “My Uncle Ed,” adding that he was his uncle’s namesake who was always referred to by his middle name.
Mr. Sabal remembered seeing his mother holding the telegram, acting in a way he’d never witnessed. “She went berserk,” he said. “She panicked and was crying and carrying on.”
It was, in a way, preparation for another telegram that arrived six weeks later on February 22, 1945 to the house on West Neck: “The Navy Department regrets to inform you that a careful review of all facts available relating to the disappearance of Carl Edward Conrad leads to the conclusion that there is no hope for his survival and he lost his life on 18 December while in the service of his country. Sincere sympathy is extended to you in your great sorrow.”
Ed Conrad was a career sailor, age 29, serving on the USS Monaghan, a destroyer that had seen action at Pearl Harbor and most of the historic sea battles of the Pacific.
In December 1944 the Monaghan, part of a naval task force, sailed into the teeth of a tropical typhoon — later named “Typhoon Cobra” or “Halsey’s Typhoon” for the commander, Admiral William “Bull” Halsey — with winds reaching more than 150 miles an hour and seas as tall as seven-story buildings.
Halsey later wrote, “No one who has not been through a typhoon can conceive its fury. The 70-foot seas smash you from all sides … until you can’t tell the ocean from the air … this typhoon tossed our enormous ship as if she were a canoe … we could not hear our own voices above the uproar.”
Mr. Sabal noted that his uncle held the rank of Machinist Mate 1st Class and so was a member of the Monaghan’s engine room crew. “He would have been down below and never stood a chance,” Mr. Sabal said.
Ed Conrad, along with 256 of his shipmates, was drowned. Only six survived. Of the 883 men in the task force that December, only 93 were saved. According to The Oxford Companion to American Military History, of the 405, 399 uniformed personnel killed during World War II, 113,842 died in noncombat situations.
Ed Conrad’s final resting place is listed by the government only as “180 miles northeast of Samar,” and gives compass coordinates for the spot in the Pacific where the Monaghan foundered, rolled over and sank. He is also named on a tablet at the American Cemetery in Manila.
Mr. Sabal remembered his Uncle Ed, home on liberty to Shelter Island in the early 1940s before going back to sea. He was known as a fine athlete, excelling at baseball and was an avid hunter.
“Him and Raymond Case and all the Dickersons were always duck and deer hunting, even when it was illegal,” Mr. Sabal laughed.
Two of the Dickerson boys would lose their lives in World War II, Army Sergeant Arthur (Larry) Dickerson and Navy Seaman 2nd Class Raymond Dickerson.
Mr. Sabal said he has never forgotten his uncle and his service. “I think of him, and other boys from the Island who never came back,” he said.
He spoke of his mother again and how, one year exactly to the day of her brother’s death, on December 18, 1945, she gave birth to a daughter, Nancy.
According to Shelter Island’s American Legion Mitchell Post 281, along with Ed Conrad and Larry and Raymond Dickerson, four other Island residents were killed during World War II:
2nd Lt. Charles W. Avona, U.S. Army Air Corp
Corporal Herbert Edward Power, U.S. Army
Private John W. Sanwald Jr., U.S. Army
2nd Lt. Robert F. Winberg, U.S Army Air Corps
Lest we forget.
Work on West Neck Road near Bootleggers Alley to alleviate a flooding problem is close to completion, according to highway department chief Jay Card Jr. His crew installed four drywells and expects to install one of two more, he said Tuesday night.
The crew has also added two more drywells on Tarkettle Road and is looking to provide additional drainage on Hudson Avenue and Bay Shore Drive in the near future, he said.
The Town Board may soon send a dispute over a commercial driveway on West Neck Road to the Zoning Board. That issue and the future of dredging Peconic waterways were the main discussion topics at the last meeting of the Shelter Island Town Board in 2010.
During a combined meeting and work session on Tuesday, December 28, the board also adopted a resolution honoring resident Mark B. Griffing, who died on Christmas Eve. Mr. Griffing served in the assessor’s office and as a constable in the 1960s. The resolution marked “the passing of a person who was dedicated to his town in many ways.”
Commercial access on West Neck Road
An attorney for West Neck Road neighbors publicly requested that the town enforce its zoning code and refer construction activities at the Olde Country Inn to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
David Gilmartin of Southampton, who said he represented eight West Neck residents, explained that a residential lot on West Neck Road was recently merged with the Olde Country Inn property, a nonconforming business on Stearns Point Road that predates the residential zone that surrounds it.
“The clearing of that lot, while it doesn’t require a building permit, seems to be an expansion of the use,” Mr. Gilmartin said. A driveway from the inn to West Neck Road was recently cleared and paved with bluestone. “Why would you clear it if you’re not going to use?” Mr. Gilmartin asked.
Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty agreed that the issue should go to the ZBA. He expressed concerns for “the fragile business character” of Shelter Island, saying that nonconforming businesses in residential zones should be “tolerated and accepted,” but he added, “We have to be very, very strict, in my opinion, on any expansions.”
Town Attorney Laury Dowd stated that the burden of enforcing the zoning code is on the Building Department. “The Building Department feels that clearing the lot does not in itself trigger an expansion,” Ms. Dowd said.
If Town Board members disagree, they can ask the Building Department to refer the issue to the ZBA, Ms. Dowd said.
John Sieni, who cleared the driveway, was also in attendance and said that the driveway is “for ingress and egress … Shelter Island has no clearing laws.”
“This is all very pre-emptive,” Mr. Sieni said. If the driveway is used, it will be for temporary parking, he said, not the main corridor to the business. He added that a pool is planned for construction behind the inn. In the meantime, he said, he can raise livestock or build a garage on the property, which is allowed in the residential A zone.
“All of those uses that he mentions are foreclosed by the fact that he merged the lot,” Mr. Gilmartin responded — the lot is now part of the nonconforming business and is not available for residential uses, he indicated.
Those are all good points, Mr. Dougherty said, and should be addressed by the ZBA.
Neighbor Lisa Shaw said that as a homeowner she is troubled by the fact that her property, once flanked by only residential lots, is now adjoined by a nonconforming parcel. “Would anybody want to have … a restaurant or hotel creep into their [residential] zone?”
Mr. Sieni reiterated his main point: “If I just cut a driveway, why do I have to go to the ZBA?”
To clarify the issues, Councilwoman Chris Lewis responded, “before you or any other owner starts investing in plans.”
The town needs a dredging management plan if it wants county, state and federal officials to move forward on opening up Island waters. That was the news from a Peconic Estuary Program summit on dredging delivered by Cliff Clark of South Ferry Company and Al Loretto of the town’s Waterways Management Advisory Council, who represented Shelter Island at the summit.
A permit to dredge in and around South Ferry’s slips at North Haven is awaiting a town proposal on where the dredge materials will go, they reported. Those materials, previously termed “spoils,” are now considered “renourishment product” — instead of being characterized as a negative environmental impact, dredging is now being seen in terms of environmental opportunities, Mr. Loretto explained.
Identifying the best locations for using the dredge materials is the town’s responsibility, he added, as is prioritizing local waterways for dredging. An overall plan identifying several areas that would benefit from renourishment product — such as Crescent Beach, Shell Beach and Taylor’s Island — would facilitate the permitting of Island dredging, Mr. Clark added.
The dredge summit also addressed ways to increase efficiency in permitting, which includes review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of State, the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency. The dredging is performed by the Suffolk County Department of Public Works from October 1 to January 15 of each year. During that limited window of opportunity, the county puts its one dredge and an additional booster pump system to work on several of 150 active dredging projects. Four of those are located on Shelter Island, Mr. Loretto said, including the one at South Ferry. No Island waterways are expected to be dredged this winter.
“We’re dragging the bottom more often now than last year or the year before,” Mr. Clark said of docking at North Haven.
Board members agreed to have Mr. Loretto draft a proposal naming Shell Beach as a dewatering site for the dredge materials from South Ferry, subject to board approval. They expressed support for WMAC review of dredging issues but did not charge them with developing an overall dredging management plan.
During the December 28 meeting the Town Board also awarded contracts for the construction of a 3-foot by 75-foot dock at Daniel Lord Road to Costello Marine for $21,480, and propane and fuel oil for town buildings to Piccozzi Inc. The board also set dog licensing fees at $5 per year (which includes a $1 state surcharge) for spayed or neutered dogs and $15 per year (which includes a $3 surcharge) for other dogs.
The board’s re-organizational meeting is set for January 4, 2011 at 1 p.m.