07/12/14 2:00pm
Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island. (Credit: file photo)

Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island. (Credit: file photo)

When Eben Fiske Ostby deeded another 141 acres of land, including the Manor House, barns and other buildings, to the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm in June, it was his determination to keep the property from becoming a site for housing development that would trample on its historical significance.  (more…)

07/11/14 10:00am
ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | A South Ferry boat crossing the Shelter Island Sound at sunset.

A South Ferry boat crossing the Shelter Island Sound at sunset. (Credit: Eleanor P. Labrozzi)

The Suffolk County Legislature voted unanimously to approve funding to dredge the South Ferry channel connecting Shelter Island with North Haven with work expected to be done between October 1 and January.

(more…)

06/20/14 2:00pm
Meb Keflezighi, who won the Boston Marathon in April, will be running in the  Island's  10K on Saturday. (Credit: courtesy)

Meb Keflezighi, who won the Boston Marathon in April, will be running in the Island’s 10K on Saturday. (Credit: courtesy)

When Mary Ellen Adipietro confirmed that Meb Keflezighi would race in this Saturday’s Shelter Island 10K, it was months before the Olympic medalist became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in April.

His win in Boston only added to his allure, she said. But it was his life story as one of 10 children who travelled from Eritrea, a small East African village, with their parents to eventually settle in California and begin his pursuit of the American dream, that inspired Ms. Adipietro to invite him. (more…)

05/14/14 8:00am
The North Ferry line down Wiggins Street in Greenport. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy, file)

The North Ferry line down Wiggins Street in Greenport. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy, file)

If you’re bound for Shelter Island via the North Ferry in Greenport, sometime this summer, you’ll find a different route — one that’s experimental — but if it works, it’s likely to be solidified for future use. The aim is to end illegal access to the ferry line that frays the nerves of those who correctly use the Wiggins Street entrance to the line.  (more…)

04/17/14 4:00pm
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Greenport Village residents could be in for a break on North Ferry fares if the proposal submitted to the Suffolk County Legislature is approved.

Greenport Village residents could be in for a break on North Ferry fares if the proposal submitted to the Suffolk County Legislature is approved. (Credit: file photo)

If the Suffolk County Legislature approves the requested rate hikes for North Ferry, Greenport Village residents will get a break in ticket prices for the trip to Shelter Island.

(more…)

04/15/14 9:00am
AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | For the second time in less than two weeks, the North Ferry line stretched down Wiggins Street in Greenport for blocks.

The North Ferry line down Wiggins Street in Greenport. (Credit: Ambrose Clancy, file)

With only six weeks before Memorial Day, the traditional start of the summer season, Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce has been speaking with North Ferry General Manager Bridg Hunt about rerouting ferry lines on the village side.

But don’t expect any major change to take place by the holiday weekend, the mayor said.

(more…)

01/28/14 11:00am

FILE PHOTO | Drill rigs rusting at Crescent Beach last Autumn during botched efforts to run an electric cable between the North Fork and the Island.

There’s no start date and there might not even be a plan.

The LIPA cable project that ground to a halt after months of missed deadlines, botched work, cost overruns and cheery reports that all was well, is now in the hands of the new power provider, PSEG.

A PSEG spokesman on Monday said he’s not free to discuss in detail the status of the project.

Jeffrey Weir, the director of communications for PSEG, told a Times/Review reporter that PSEG has been evaluating the situation that resulted in the Long Island Power Authority firing its contractor, Bortech, last fall after failure to be able to resolve an equipment breakdown that left the project in limbo.

PSEG took over LIPA on Jan. 1 and received a Jan. 10 letter from Shelter Island Town Supervior Jim Dougherty asking that the project to replace cables damaged during Superstorm Sandy be given a high priority. Previously, town officials had been told plans were in place to return generators to Shelter Island this spring to ensure that, if the remaining cable become inoperable, there would still be electric power.

Mr. Weir said he couldn’t comment further about the plans for the generators being returned to the Island.

“I’m not entirely certain what all progress has been made,” Mr. Weir said. “It’s a complicated situation and they’re working it through,” he said, referring to PSEG officials. “Our main concern is making sure the residents of Shelter Island have reliable and safe power and so whatever it takes to make that happen, we’ll do that.”

While Shelter Islanders have had to worry about sustaining power since the project got under way last spring, residents on both sides of the Harbor have been disturbed by noise and dirt associated with the project that initially was supposed to be completed by Memorial Day last May. Continued problems led to constant delays and just when it finally appeared that completion was in sight at the end of August, a piece of drilling rig broke just 500 feet short of the Greenport side.

By October, LIPA fired Bortech. But word was a new contractor would be hired with work due to begin again in January. LIPA said the delay was, at least in part, linked to the PSEG takeover of operations in January.

Then in December, Mr. Dougherty announced that he had been told by LIPA officials — still in charge until PSEG took over operations January 1 — that no work would begin for months, but that generators would be returned to Shelter Island this spring.

Mr. Dougherty said then he wanted assurances the project would be completed by April 30.

jlane@sireporter.com

12/11/13 9:00am

Southold_Town_Hall_Sign4151

While many are turning their attention to completing Christmas shopping in time, there’s another December deadline that looms that has the potential to affect many North Fork homeowners.

A new law requires homeowners re-register for the Basic School Tax Relief exemption by December 31.

Of the town’s eligible residents, 77 percent have re-registered, according to state statistics. But 1,062 homes have yet to apply, the records show.

The easiest way to re-register for a Basic STAR exemption is to file on the Tax Department’s website.

You will need your STAR code to re-register (check your mail from weeks back). If you don’t have the code, you can get it online or by calling the Tax Department at 518-457-2036. You may also call that number to re-register if you prefer not to do so online.

In re-registering, you should have Social Security numbers available for all owners and spouse

The state Department of Taxation and Finance won’t be notifying local assessors about those who have failed to re-register until February 2014, meaning it will be too late to get the exemption for next year.

The reason for the re-filings is a new state law aimed at eliminating fraud, state officials have said. Whether purposely or accidentally, people throughout New York who own multiple homes had registered for multiple STAR exemptions.

But that’s not allowed under the law. A homeowner has to prove primary residence by such documents as vehicle and voter registrations, and it’s up to the local assessor to make a judgment on eligibility.

To be eligible for the Basic STAR exemption, a household must have earned $500,000 or less.

There is no age requirement.

If you have never filed for a STAR exemption and believe you are eligible, you won’t be affected by the re-registration process, but you will need to file a Form RP-425, also available online.

Those 65 or older who receive Enhanced STAR exemptions aren’t required to re-register. Their eligibility is based on age and an annual income of $81,900 or less.

Throughout Long Island, there are 31 percent, or 175,092, who have failed to file, state officials said.

jlane@timesreview.com

11/24/13 10:00am

AMBROSE CLANCY FILE PHOTO | This East End backyard, which once had views of wetlands and berry bushes, is now overun by mile-a-minute vine.

No one is declaring victory just yet, but the man-versus-nature war on what has come to be known as the mile-a-minute vine has been joined. The invasive vine has a predator, experts have found, and it comes in the form of the stem-boring black weevil.

Although he’s taking a cautiously optimistic approach, Cornell Cooperative Extension scientist Dr. Andy Senesac says there’s reason to hope that over the course of several years, the plant could be eradicated

“We’re encouraged, but we can’t be throwing any parades as far as success,” he said.

COURTESY PHOTO | Weevil damage to a mile-a-minute vine leaf.

For the past two years, CCE scientists have been running test programs using the weevil on the North and South forks. The protocol for releasing the weevil was developed by a professor at the University of Delaware and the weevils are being distributed without cost by the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insects Laboratory in Trenton, N.J., where they are being raised.

While the weevils may not be as prolific as their prey, early tests are promising that the insects will steadily eat away the invasive species and eventually wipe it out without damaging other plants that grow alongside it.

The hope is that as mile-a-minute dies off, the weevils themselves will also die off, Dr. Senesac said.

Persicaria perfoliata, as mile-a-minute is properly know, grows up to six inches a day when conditions are right. Also known as “the kudzu of the north,” it easily overmatches native species. It blocks other plants from sunlight, stopping their ability to photosynthesize, which will eventually kill them. Mile-a-minute devastates the natural ecology on a wide scale, stopping the regeneration of forests and woods and doing damage to a community’s economy.

And being an annual, with a generous amount of seeds, it’s a recurring nightmare for homeowners, gardeners and farmers.

“If you look around now, you might think, ‘Oh, it all died. But it’s not over; it will be back the next year,” said Roxanne Zimmer of Peconic, a volunteer at Cornell. “Because it’s an annual, all those beautiful blue berries will seed and reseed. And, of course, the birds and insects will carry it around as well. It doesn’t really poke its head up until June or July. And July is when you start to notice it again.”

CORNELL COOPERATIVE EXTENSION COURTESY PHOTO | Researchers plan to continue to release more weevils in vine-infested sites on the East End in 2014. The program has been in practice for eight years in Delaware, New Jersey and other states, and in that time the weevil has been observed to feed only on the weed and no other plants.

Ms. Zimmer said the vine has a unique feature that she described as a “curved barb that allows it to grab.”

“That’s what makes it so vicious,” Ms. Zimmer said. “It can hook onto a limb or tree and then the next barb will hook on and then it just continues to grow up and out.”

According to research compiled by the University of Delaware, mile-a-minute is an Asian vine introduced to the United States in the mid-1930s at a nursery in Pennsylvania, where it was mixed with holly seeds imported from Japan. Deceptively beautiful, not only for its vibrant green color, its leaves are delicate triangles, almost heart-shaped, and its berries, when ripe, are bluish-purple. The vine has now made its home in 12 mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states, extending west to Ohio, south to the Carolinas and north to Massachusetts.

But designing and managing programs to put the weevil to work is no easy process, Dr. Senesac said.

For the dozen states experimenting with weevils, there’s a two-step approval process. It starts with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Once a permit is received from APHIS, those in New York have to apply to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for a permit to deploy the weevils. The entire process takes about six months, Dr. Senesac said.

He generally begins the application process in October with the aim of deploying the tiny critters, which are twice the size of the head of a pin, in test areas in late April or May.

In the two years that test programs have been operated, there’s a positive indication that the weevils move beyond the point where they are originally deployed. There has also been some evidence of weevils arriving on Long Island on their own from other locations, Dr. Senesac said.

He cautioned that people whose property is overrun with mile-a-minute not pull it out at the roots at this time of year. It will die out during the winter, and early next spring would be the best time for property owners to destroy new plants, pulling them out at their roots, before they’re able to take hold.

Cornell Cooperative Extension has plans to get information to residents in early spring about how to identify the weed.

Dan Fokine, a volunteer organizer for Shelter Island Vine Busters, an awareness group, said mile-a-minute is relatively new to that island and the East End. He first saw it a couple of years ago.

“Once it hit the ground it really took off,” Mr. Fokine said.

If a neighbor has mile-a-minute, that neighbor should be approached about removing it, he advised.

He compared rooting out the vine with fighting terrorism. “You have to take the fight to it,” he said, “You just can’t fight them on your own turf.”

jlane@timesreview.com

With Michael White