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Letters to the Editor: Dual kudos


NIMBY for the birds?

A tiny tragedy occurred on one of our beaches last week.

Not many will care … perhaps only those concerned about birds and our environment.

We lost a secret piping plover nest due to predation.

Unfortunately, people refused to have signs and string fencing installed to alert dog walkers and other humans. In spite of leash laws for all Southold’s public land, owners let their dogs run free on beaches, and the dogs scattered the nest. The birds are gone; so are their eggs.

Bellwethers for our beaches, plovers are going extinct thanks to humankind.

They scratch out little holes in the sand for nests on our beautiful, quiet, uncrowded beaches. Their eggs look like small stones. But overdevelopment is radically reducing their nesting places.

According to the DEC, there are fewer than 1,500 pairs remaining on the Atlantic coast. Endangered shorebirds have been protected under federal law since 1975. Persons may be fined and arrested for disturbing these nesting birds.

Audubon helps by monitoring nestings and trying to protect these vulnerable terns and plovers.

For beachgoers, terns are harmless. They may dive to protect their young but will rarely touch you. Audubon installs simple string fencing where birds are known to nest. They won’t deny beachfront owners access to their private beaches, as may have happened in the past.

As Audubon volunteers we were installing signs on a private beach approved by its owner a few weeks ago. We were accosted by neighboring homeowners professing a love of birds … only “not near our property.” In other words: Not in My Backyard.

Affordable housing has become a popular NIMBY. Now even these helpless birds are targets. We have nearly driven them to extinction much as we drive less fortunate people away.

Then what will we have? No birds? No diversity?

Wouldn’t that be an interesting world.

Lynne Normandia and Joan Griffin


Dual kudos

There is a theme worth emphasizing in the three letters published upon the occasion of Steve Wick’s departure from The Suffolk Times: both parties deserve a salute.

Not only is Steve a clever and dogged investigative journalist, he is an observer and writer with heart, who touches us with a fresh turn of phrase and the honor he shows his subjects. His portraits of people, his historical essays and his thoughtful editorials have represented the character of this weekly paper.

A broad faction in the readership knows how lucky we have been. We rely on the paper for our local news, and with every weekly issue, we have thought of our good fortune — not only in the paper’s existence, but also in its voice.

Everyone knows the stress that print media is under. In the early 1900s, the U.S. had 24,000 weeklies and dailies; at the end of 2005, 9,000; today, 6,000—most, local weeklies. Newspaper employment dropped over 70% between 2005 and 2022. Most communities that lose a local paper — usually the poorer towns — do not get a replacement. The problem is so dire that in 2023 philanthropists committed $500 million to support local news.

We are lucky to be an economically privileged community and to have a local paper that has figured out how to survive the industry disruption. Some readers remember the paper 30 years ago and feel that reporting has suffered. I would counter that the glass is half full. We have a local paper that tells us what is going on, and since 2017, it has expressed the earnest sensibility of Steve Wick.

I wish the publisher success in managing through this change and maintaining the heart that you empowered Steve to put into our precious bearer of local tidings.

Jan Nicholson


Thank you, Steve

Following his departure from The Suffolk Times, Steve Wick will be sorely missed by his readers, myself included. He is a master storyteller with a razor sharp sense of where good stories reside and the courage to pursue them with sharp questions and an intellectual and ethical rigor that are increasingly rare in today’s journalism, especially at the local level. He told many stories of personal interest, such as the fire that destroyed the potato grader in Cutchogue, marking the poignant end of an important chapter in Southold’s agricultural and social history.

Steve is also an award-winning investigative journalist. It was his coverage for Newsday of the Greenport police scandal in 1994 that helped light the controversy that resulted in the abolishment of the department and its highly successful absorption into the Southold Police Department. I credit this successful outcome as the critical turning point in Greenport’s recovery from the profoundly depressed conditions that had characterized it for decades before. With his help, we showed that we could truly control our own fate.

Steve Wick brought journalistic excellence to The Suffolk Times and its readers. His courage, persistence and love for the North Fork will be hard to replace.

Dave Kapell

Greenport Village mayor, 1994-2007


Zoning update must consider ecosystem

As our town considers the comprehensive zoning update, I implore our leaders to fight hard for our beloved North Fork’s fragile ecosystem and rural character. Our finite 30-milelong peninsula has a limited carrying capacity, defined as the number of people, other living organisms or crops a region can support without environmental degradation. How much can our region support and who is monitoring this? Are we already at or over capacity? What does growth even mean? When do we stop new development and simply get smarter with the structures already in place? I implore you to prioritize preservation lest we sacrifice the North Fork’s ecological balance and our peaceful way of life.

One way to recognize and encounter rural character is by stepping outside and listening to our surroundings. Sit down and see how long it takes before we hear a machine. How long before there is natural quiet? Is there a constant hum of human-created noise? Does it take a long time to cross the street? When does the rural character turn to a suburban feel? When one constantly hears landscaping machines, road work and traffic noise as the norm; when one decides it’s not even worth attempting to cross the street because it feels too dangerous — the rural sense of tranquility becomes eroded and lost. When swimming pools replace our appreciation for the bays and Sound, we further separate ourselves from our natural environment, and we risk no longer caring to preserve it.

As we enter this vital period of planning and rezoning, let’s be sure that nature, quietness and a healthy ecosystem are prioritized and protected, maintaining the sacred. Even our “hamlet” intensive development areas should have quiet green spaces for sitting, taking a break and connecting with nature, such as the green space across from the IGA in Southold. It can be a pleasant experience to visit our towns. Birdsong and simply hearing the wind and waves crashing are the sounds that bring solace, that offer a rural feel. The quiet can be palpable, allowing us to breathe, contemplate and connect with nature, ourselves and each other. When this tranquility is lost, we feel it — we notice that wildlife has gone away and we become aware that we want to go away, too.

Sharon Kelly


Gasoline blowers are a hazard to all

I am not the first person to write a letter regarding the harmful effects of gasoline-powered blowers, but hoping my own noise-making will help effect change. I live in a condocommunity where Pine Oaks is hired to maintain the landscaping on a weekly basis. They do an excellent job and the men are very pleasant and hard workers. I hope they are paid well! Fortunately, the owner has provided ear protection against the high-decibel racket of mowing and blowing. However, the fumes are atrocious (no respirator masks for them or eye goggles). Ear-splitting noises and fumes pollute the atmosphere of residents as well as scream and blow into the interior — even with doors and widows closed.

Until these blowers are outlawed, a challenge being met in Greenport, no landscaping company will bother to convert to rechargeable electric blowers. All in favor say “Aye!”

Anne Hawkins


Thank you for a resounding success

The members of Griswold Terry Glover Post 803 Southold American Legion recently held our 31st golf outing at Island’s End G.C. The outing was our most successful in recent memory.

We could not have done this without the support of our business community, gifting from the North Fork’s restaurants and wineries and the donations of the general community and the golfers!

This will allow our Post to provide for the children and youth of the community, work to improve the nation’s security, pass on to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy and work with our legislatures for the benefit of veterans.

As Gomer Pyle would say, in a fashion only a true veteran could say, even though he was only a fictional character, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Bob Bittner

golf committee chairman


Why do we need a local newspaper?

It was distressing to learn via the grapevine, and through a letter to the editor in these pages, that Steve Wick is no longer at the helm of The Suffolk Times, a very significant event that the paper itself has apparently chosen not to report and which also supports my reason for writing this letter. I have been increasingly dismayed by the absence of serious news in the newspaper that, for the 25 years I have lived in Mattituck, has been my dependable and leading source of comprehensive information about my community, which is, after all, a local newspaper’s reason for being. The North Fork is going through many fundamental changes and those of us who make our lives here turn to our local media to tell us what is going on — all of it, on every front, as we always have. With Steve Wick’s departure taking place in the context of dwindling reporting of real North Fork news, I join friends and neighbors who are turning to other news sources poised to fill the vacuum. But I wish we haven’t had to.

Hazel Kahan


With gratitude to Steve Wick

I would like to thank Steve Wick for his dedication to veterans affairs while editor of The Suffolk Times.

Mr. Wick made sure events surrounding Memorial Day and Veterans Day were always covered. He was especially helpful in supporting the Walk4Valor event held each year to fight against veteran suicide. Whenever he had questions regarding veterans he always reached out to me when I was commander of the American Legion in Southold. He sincerely wanted to know how he and the paper could support local veterans. I greatly appreciate his patriotism and concern for veterans.

Charles Sanders

Mr. Sanders is a past commander of Southold American Legion Post 803.


Hotel moratorium is welcome

Reading the paper, [I’m] delighted that the Southold Town hotel moratorium is proceeding.

May I suggest that each hotel, once they’ve figured out staffing, be required to provide staff quarters?

That would help a lot of people.

Cathy Haft