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Shelter Island Reporter Letters to the Editor: July 28, 2022

Second Amendment


Friends

To the Editor:

What is a friend? Although I have a personal understanding of friendship, I considered the better definitions of friendship. 

Friendship is characterized by positive interpersonal qualities such as kindness, generosity, loyalty and honesty. If someone befriends a community or town, can there also be affection, esteem, intimacy and trust? Or, can a group call themselves “Friends” without those qualities?

Shelter Island does have certain organizations locally that are truly “Friends” and have these qualities, for instance, Friends of Music. But, I question the agenda of a recent group.

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Supervisor Siller was correct to call out the highly organized scare tactics and distorted facts used by these “Friends.”

I urge caution when reading their letters. I urge caution when groups are negative and mean spirited. I urge caution when “Friends” run multiple expensive full-page ads. A true friend listens. A real friend is forgiving. A caring friend has empathy. A friend is always there for you. There is no hidden agenda. I am proud of the hard work of our duly-elected officials and staff. It’s often a thankless job.

But, I trust them to do what’s best for my community. They are the real friends.

HEATHER REYLEK, Shelter Island

Editor’s Note: Ms. Reylek is the Chair of The Shelter Island Democratic Committee.

Focus

To the Editor:

As a full time Shelter Island resident, I continue to be dismayed by Supervisor Siller’s personal attacks against those who disagree with him and the Community Housing Advisory Board regarding the focus — above all else — on affordable housing on Shelter Island. 

As well, his rejection of the survey work asking residents, such as my family, what our priorities are, which was performed by the town itself last year, is unacceptable.

Supervisor Siller has stated affordable housing is why we elected him. Mr. Siller, I voted for you, am a progressive Democrat, strongly believe in community engagement, and most definitely did not vote for you due to any point of view you had on subsidized housing. I expected, and continue to expect, the town’s focus to be on water quality, great schools for kids on the Island, and efficient, well-run public services. 

The unhinged quality you’re now displaying makes me regret that vote. I will not make the same mistake next time. 

I do believe you and the Community Housing Board are living in an echo chamber, reinforcing your passion for this issue above all others. You will see the folly in that in the vote coming this fall. 

CHRIS ENGLE, Shelter Island

Rationally, calmly

To the Editor:

As a long-time and now full-time resident of Shelter Island, I urge Shelter Islanders to vote “Yes” in favor of November’s referendum, which will provide a source of funding for affordable housing on the Island.

There is significant misinformation circulating about this referendum. Our property taxes will not increase if the referendum passes because there is no relationship between property taxes and the effect of the act, which will raise funds through a 0.5% supplemental real estate transfer tax only collected when someone is buying a house on the Island. In other words, a tiny slice of the purchase price of a house will be reinvested in our community to allow our community to remain economically diverse.

Water quality and quantity are important, of course, but will not be compromised at all if the referendum passes, because the impairment of water quality and quantity arises from the failure to control the amenities that are water hogs and water polluters, starting with the two golf courses on Shelter Island using hundreds of thousands of gallons of water a year, far more than a few units of affordable housing. A good and enforced water conservation policy will benefit all of us and the cynical argument that a few affordable houses are the source of our water issues should be rejected.

Lastly, I am dismayed at the animosity demonstrated in the one- and two-page ads in the Shelter Island Reporter. We need to discuss these ideas rationally and calmly. Comparing our wish to build affordable housing on Shelter Island to public housing in New York City seeks to make people fearful instead of thoughtful.

I notice that the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board is holding public meetings to address the concerns raised by November’s referendum. Please listen with an open mind to the presentations and ask questions. The nature of our community is at stake.

LYNNE WEIKART, Shelter Island

Can’t happen here?

To the Editor:

Soon after my wife and I became new second home owners on Shelter Island, a neighbor introduced himself. He told us that he had an AK-47 automatic assault rifle and will protect the hood. That seemed a bit odd in 1992. The AK-47 toting fellow is now about 80 years old.

I understand someone who has a handgun to protect their home or the hunter who owns a rifle. Are citizens who need an assault rifle paranoid by default? What if someone with an AR-15 ages into dementia or has similar neurological issues related to long-COVID or Lyme’s disease?  Paranoia can be a progressive mental illness that should disqualify that person from owning any gun.

I spent many months covering the war in El Salvador as a journalist for NBC News in the 1980’s. I have seen just what an automatic, high-caliber assault weapon can do. They fill the environment with rounds that kill most horrifically.

The two most significant, yet ignored, words in the Second Amendment are “Well Regulated,” as in ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …”  If all gun owners were members of such a state militia or an auxiliary police force then they would need to be properly trained and psychologically evaluated periodically.

A onetime background check is not enough. Good guys with guns can suddenly become bad guys with assault weapons. The latest mass killers all passed their background checks. The weapons of war are out there.  Every community can and must be assured that gun owners are the most stable among us. Or would the NRA argue with that too?

The kids are the best part of Shelter Island. They deserve every protection possible. The most infamous last words are: “We thought it can’t happen here.”

VINCENT NOVAK, New York, N.Y.

Creek Keepers

To the Editor:

Next Saturday, July 30, at 11 a.m. the Menantic Creek Keepers will hold our first meeting on the lawns of 16b & 18b South Midway Road.

Emails and announcements have been sent to those that we have contact information for, but we know there are many on and around the creek who care about the creek that we have not yet been able to reach. We invite all on the Island who share our concerns for the water quality in Menantic Creek to join our discussion on Saturday.

Please email [email protected] with any questions and to get on our contact list.

Please plan to join us. We look forward to meeting everyone who can make it on Saturday.

ALICE DEUPREE, Shelter Island

Exemplary

To the Editor:

I was fortunate enough to spend a week on Shelter Island this July. My first time, even though I was born in Southampton Hospital, many years ago. What an incredibly beautiful and special place! However, I didn’t plan on learning first-hand just how special the people who provide Emergency Medical Services to the Island are.

On my fourth day visiting, I didn’t drink enough water and that, coupled with my own pre-existing medical condition, compounded into me passing out from heat stroke at the Ram’s Head Inn on Bastille Day.

The staff at the Inn were quick to help and took very good care of me.

A huge amount of gratitude to T.J. Dalton and Kate Davidson who delivered me safely by ambulance to Greenport Hospital. Also, thank you to the police officer who arrived first on the scene to assess me, along with the great Mark Kanarvogel.

It’s been said that in times of crisis, we see how people really operate.

I would like to express my most sincere appreciation and gratitude to the volunteer EMS folks who worked diligently, professionally, and swiftly, to transport me to medical care. And, their sense of humor did not go unnoticed. It’s people like you who truly save lives, day in-and-day out. You are exemplary role models for the future generations — and you are not even being paid.

Next time I see T.J., it will be to hear him on the guitar, not taking my vitals in an ambulance. My husband and I will be donating to the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation. Keep up the good work!

AHAVAH REVIS, Marin County, Calif.

Response to Codger

To the Editor:

In today’s paper, Codger (Robert Lypsyte) — no fan of Supervisor Siller’s lack of transparency — takes the transparency issue up a level on affordable housing.

Codger deserves kudos for his head-scratching about “how the concept …is supposed to work here and who is supposed to be its beneficiaries.” And then asks the bigger question: “How would community housing affect tax rates and environmental concerns, especially about water?”

But it doesn’t take Codger long to go on the attack against those who are simply trying to answer those questions. With the Supervisor Siller’s notorious opacity, and the Reporter’s investigative journalism missing-in-action, Islanders are forced to do the research themselves and print their results in multi-page ads. They deserve our thanks, not Codger’s ridicule.

“Mostly fools and greedheads,” Codger calls them, adding “oligarchs” for good measure. They “don’t deserve to live here,” he says. Sorry, Stacy, Aandrea, and Marie. I guess that means you and all the other responsible businesspersons who are “taking matters into their own hands and buying housing for their workers.” That’s the taxpayer’s responsibility, not yours, suggests Codger. And Siller is his man to make certain of it.

Oh, and Codger loves when Siller accuses his opponents of wanting “gated communities.” Well, according to the New York Times, where Codger once worked, we have always been a gated community, the gate being the Peconic Bay.

“The natural moat,” wrote the Times over 50 years ago, “helps keep outsiders away, and so does a fairly stiff ferry charge.”  Indeed, in case Codger hasn’t noticed, the ferry terminals actually have gates.

Let’s be honest. This “natural moat” of ours is a blessing. It protects our drinking water, our personal safety, and our property taxes. Siller’s unnatural housing referendum would undo all that.

CHRISTINE HOUSTON, Shelter Island

Answering questions

To the Editor:

I’m writing to help answer some of Mr. Bindler and Mr. Koller’s questions. I’d like to refer my fellow residents to the Community Housing Fund Advisory Page on the Town website, where much of this information is posted, and also the next Open House on Aug. 6, 3-to-5 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church. Now to some answers.

1. Currently, between 8-to-10 rental units are contemplated (see the plans and site map online). As for more housing needed, we’ll wait until the consultant finishes their needs assessment — expected in August for an early September presentation.

2. No zoning changes are needed  — Community Housing Floating Zone already exists.

3. CPF/preserved land may not and will not be used for housing.

4. Since the Town is currently considering rental properties, I’ll speak to the management of this model.  Either the Town will manage the properties through a Housing Authority (which would need to be created) or it would be a public/private partnership where a developer would administer the property. There are many variations of this being explored.

5. It’s my opinion that 8-to-10 units will not have enough of an impact on services that will require an adjustment to our real estate taxes. The rental properties- — even at reduced rents — pencil out to be very modestly positive for the town in 15 or 20 years. They will cover their own construction costs and upkeep in the long term, although they will require financing to build.

6. Rental units would require a yearly income check to ensure the residents are still in the target demographic group. For Sale units (if explored further on) would be kept perpetually affordable through deed restrictions.

I’m happy to answer any other questions at the next open house or at my town email — [email protected]

LIZ HANLEY, Chair of the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board

Keep an open mind

To the Editor:

As a member of the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board, I’d like to point out to your readers that the housing plan that we’re currently working on is not what they’ll be voting on at the referendum in November.

That vote will determine whether or not the Town gets to update the current transfer tax from 2% for the Community Preservation Fund to a 2.5% transfer tax that will keep the 2 percent for CPF and add .5% for a Community Housing Fund. We’ve seen how successful the CPF has been in preserving open space. This would be an analogous program with the goal of creating year-round housing options for Islanders who are currently priced out of the market.

These rentals or homes would be affordable in perpetuity for Islanders who meet the income requirements and will be awarded through a lottery system. I can tell you, I won’t be entering the lottery, as I’m lucky enough to have a home here.

There’s been a lot of misinformation sent in to the paper in letters and advertisements conflating the housing plan with the referendum and trying to confuse the public that the transfer tax (which only property buyers pay) is akin to an increase in their annual property taxes.

The housing plan the CHFAB and consultants Nelson Voorhis Pope are now working on includes community input and will be a part of our Comprehensive Plan. We have another open house on August 6 at 3 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church, or you can participate online at our committee’s page: shelterislandtown.us/community-housing-fund-advisory-board-1

Please take a look at our information with an open mind and participate.

BRAN DOUGHERTY-JOHNSON, Shelter Island



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