Spring 2017 Update from the Island Community Board

ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 464, Fishers Island, NY 06390
(631) 788-7990  |  ficommunityboard@gmail.com
website: fishers-island/island-community-board

April 25, 2017

Dear Fishers Islanders,

The ICB is active, engaged, and making a positive difference for the Fishers Island Community.  As the central forum for the discussion of key island issues, the ICB presents the following update to the community:

Expanded Board to Enhance Representation from the Island
There are currently 14 representatives on the ICB, including elected year-round and seasonal representatives, along with designated representatives from key island districts and organizations. Last summer, in addition to electing new board members: Willard Soper, Nate Malinowski, and Meg Atkin, the ICB also increased the number of represented organizations by adding two seats. We welcome Elizabeth McCance as head of the HL Ferguson Museum; and Tom Sargent as head of the Fishers Island Conservancy. See representatives list at the end of this letter. The ICB Governance Committee is responsible for administering ICB elections and ensuring that the board’s structure and function are consistent with its by-laws.

ICB Priorities / Committees
The ICB is focused on several key priorities, as identified by the community.

  • Housing
  • Health Care
  • Infrastructure
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Administration & Communications

These priorities are tracked and discussed at each monthly ICB meeting.  One of the first initiatives created in 2017 has been the establishment of subcommittees that support these priorities. ICB Representatives have taken on their respective challenges and continue to provide the board with important dialogue on each of the priorities.  At the same time, the ICB welcomes continuing input from the community on additional key issues to address.

ICB Tax Study Completed
Last summer, through the help of the Brinkerhoff Foundation, the ICB commissioned a tax study. The objective of the study was to compare the amount of taxes paid by Fishers Island residents to the Town of Southold with the services received by Fishers Island.  The study also analyzed the amount of real estate transfer taxes paid to the Community Preservation Fund versus the Fund’s preservation activities on the island. The board’s challenge and opportunity will be to use the findings of the study to work cooperatively with Southold and the Fund to more effectively address the needs of the island on an ongoing basis.

New Format to Annual Report, Available on Line
Our communications group hit the ground running. Led by Nate Malinowski, the ICB put forth the first annual report since the days of the Civic Association. 2016 Fishers Island Annual Report  This document is not only a report of important activities undertaken by the numerous operating entities on Fishers Island; it also establishes a record of accountability for Islanders, the Town of Southold and others.

Facilitating Environmental Stewardship
This committee is looking into distilling and prioritizing specific environmental initiatives on the Island and how we can best work with Southold around said priorities. Tom Sargent is leading this effort along with Steve Malinowski and Dixon Harvey. More information will be shared soon on these important initiatives.

Encouraging Partnerships to Address Housing Need
The Housing group has been researching ways to expand our year-round housing numbers and continues to work with Walsh Park to determine opportunities for private-public partnerships. In partnership with Walsh Park, Matt Edwards and the committee are currently creating a step-by-step plan to help further encourage housing acquisition and development to support the community’s ongoing demand for year-round housing.

Initiatives to Resolve Health Insurance Issues
Candy Whitman and Willard Soper have been tenaciously researching opportunities to provide a better solution for the health care needs of year-round Fishers Islanders. Currently, many islanders have limited services available to them because they are New Yorkers and all of the “local” health services are in Connecticut.  Many state plans do not allow for cross-border services, which require islanders to travel to New York to receive health services, at high cost and inconvenience. The Committee has been working with United Healthcare to determine potential group plans for islanders. Louisa Evans has been working hard with our NY Department of Health, who has agreed to work with Congressman Zeldin’s office in resolving issues for us on a case by case basis.  Ultimately, the Committee is seeking legislative policy changes to address this issue.

Momentum on Infrastructure Upgrades
Among the most shovel-ready of ICB’s priorities is the repair and support of island infrastructure including roads and sidewalks, many of which are in extremely poor condition.  Yet even after years of informal efforts, we were all very disappointed to learn last fall that the Town of Southold’s 4-year highway plan does not include any repairs on Fishers Island. The ICB is now working with Town of Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and the Southold Town Council to address this oversight.  To that end, we have developed a petition with over 400 signatures which we will present and update to the Southold Town Council on April 11 in Southold.

ICB Administration
We have had a productive start to our year, with all of the ICB’s administration being performed by our new Administrator Zack Hoch. Zack continues to do an excellent job for the Board and we are thankful for all of his efforts!

Membership Matters!
ICB’s success is up to you!  I’d like to encourage everyone who has yet to sign up for the ICB to register here and join the forum.  As of now, we have about 450 members. Our goal for this coming year is to raise that number to at least 750 members. The more we can bolster our group, the more we can provide an effective forum for the many important issues that affect our daily life on the Island. Additionally, we thank all of you that made voluntary contributions last year as these funds helped cover our limited administrative expenses.

This year we are again requesting that community members assist by paying a small annual fee. The suggested annual contribution of $10.00 for an individual or $25 for a family helps to fund communications, administration, and other necessary activities for the ICB. Please find the online payment option on the ICB page.

Your membership in the ICB enables you to vote in ICB elections, receive the Annual Report and to actively help create and foster a central clearinghouse of ideas.  All of these activities help legitimize and formalize the needs of the island with the Town of Southold. 

The ICB continues to host informational meetings each month at the Community Center in order to galvanize and prioritize issues and provide a forum to discuss and chart the future of Fishers. To help encourage membership, the ICB will sponsor its first Annual Island Clean Uphappening Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 27 at 10:00 AM. 

In closing, I thank the entire Fishers Island community for its support and active participation in the ICB process.

Sincerely,

Tom

Charles Thomas O’Neil
ICB President

Tom O’Neil
PO Box 201
Stockbridge MA 01262
mail@charlesthomasoneil.com
(413) 298-4199

ICB Representatives
Tom O’Neil, President; Zach Hoch, Administrator; Year-round representatives: Meg Atkin, Nate Malinowski, and Candace Whitman; Seasonal representatives: Tom O’Neil, Dicky Riegel, and Willard Soper; Karen Goodwin, FI School District; Ace Ahrens, FI Ferry District; Tim Patterson, Waste Management District;  Marc Rubenstein, Island Health Project; Matt Edwards, Walsh Park; Mark Gaumond, FIDCO; Chris Finan, FI Utility Co.; Elizabeth McCance, Ferguson Museum; Tom Sargent, FI Conservancy; Louisa Evans, Town Rep – Ex Officio.

To contact the Board directly, please send mail to ICB Board, Box 464, Fishers Island, NY 06390 or email ficommunityboard@gmail.com.

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