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Shelter Island’s new town supervisor: ‘I’m loving what I’m doing’

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Shelter Island Supervisor Gary Gerth described his approach to governing during his State of the Town address on Sunday, April 22. Credit: Newsday / Vera Chinese

Shelter Island Supervisor Gary Gerth in his first state of the town address on Sunday gave a speech that was more about his style of governing than the municipality itself.

Gerth, a Republican who last year defeated longtime Democratic incumbent James Dougherty and took office in January, described his diplomatic approach to working with the Town Board and recounted his history working in Nassau County politics in a 40-minute speech hosted by the League of Women Voters of Shelter Island.

“I’m 15 weeks into this new job, which I’m enjoying; I’m loving what I’m doing,” he said. “I want to be a problem solver.”

As for town issues, Gerth said officials are looking into a stabilization plan for the peninsula known as Reel Point, which serves as a barrier to Coecles Harbor and $1.5 billion worth of real estate there. Town officials have authorized a study to determine the cost of their plan to build a rock wall along Reel Point’s eastern shore to deflect wave energy.

“We’re ready to get the next set of plans into the Army Corps [of Engineers]” Gertz said. He noted that getting the funding will probably require working with federal officials, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican who represents the 1st Congressional District, including Long Island’s East End.

Gerth deferred a question about the town’s use of renewable energy to town attorney Bob DeStefano, who said the municipality is looking to make solar energy more affordable to residents and perhaps attract a solar farm to its recycling facility.

Some residents, including JZ Holden, said they were happy to meet the supervisor and get an update on his first few months in office.

“My question would have been, ‘What is your vision for Shelter Island?’ And he explained all that,” said Holden, a retired special effects makeup artist who recently moved to the island from East Hampton. “We felt so good about moving here and this lets us know that whatever we felt was true.”

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