ICB Minutes September 10, 2019

by Jane Ahrens

P.O. Box 464, Fishers Island, NY 06390
Tel: 631-788-7990
Email: ficommunityboard@gmail.com

ICB September Meeting
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
5:30 pm
Community Center Multi-Purpose Room

Attendance 33

ICB Representatives Present: Tom O’ Neil (President), Mere Doyen (Island Liaison), Willard Soper (Treasurer), Candace Whitman (Vice President), Meg Atkin (Year-Round), Nate Malinowski (Year-Round), George De Menil (Seasonal), David Burnham (Waste Management), Christian Arsenault (School District), Matt Edwards (Walsh Park), Jim Baker (Utility Company)

On Call: Dicky Riegel (Seasonal), Kevin Coleman

Directors Absent: Marc Rubinstein (IHP), Tom Sargent (Conservancy), Elizabeth McCance (Museum), Jeanie Cook (Community Center), John McGillian (FIDCO), Greg Thibodeau (Fire District)

Public Present: Ken Edwards, Sarah Malinowski, Bob Evans, Lucinda Herrick, Peter Burr, Cookie Edwards, Tim Patterson, Peter Brinkerhoff, Amy Harris, Dirk Harris, Nancy Parsons, Louis De Menil, John Spofford, Harry Parker, Ellen Parker, Tom Siebens, Sarah Porter, Wendy O’ Neil, Helen Braun, Margerat Chaves

Approve August Minutes
Tom O’ Neil welcome all in attendance and then motioned to approve the August meeting minutes written by Zack Hoch. The motioned passed and the minutes were approved.

Dicky Riegel thanked all who voted in the ICB election held at the end of August, stating there was a great turn out and a great slate of qualified candidates. Four candidates running for the open seat as a seasonal member were George De Menil, Kevin Coleman, Rich Bartels and Rob Hunt. Dicky congratulated George as the winner of a very close election. The seat will be vacated by President, Tom O’ Neil who reached the end of his 2nd 3-year term. This vacancy allows George to step in as the new elected seasonal member. A new slate of officers must be chosen. ICB presidents are decided by elected members of the ICB, seasonal and year-round. The board proposed to elect Willard Soper as new President, Candy Whitman to continue as Vice President and Dicky Riegel has agreed to take over as Treasurer. Dicky thanks the Community Center staff: Jeanie Cook, Staley Sedoui, Linda Morowka, Jane Ahrens and David Hoch.

Tom O’ Neil motioned to approve the new slate of officers. The motion passed and the new slate of officers was approved.

Treasurer’s Report
Willard Soper stated the Treasurer’s report is much improved since last meeting. Over $3,800 has been received in donation the past month, with 51 total contributors. This is a good start to the goal to raise $7,000-$8,000. Over $800 was spent of the mailing to raise funds.

Willard noted ICB has switched bank accounts from Bank of America to Liberty Bank.

Southold Follow-Up
Concluding Southold Day earlier in August, ICB agreed to write a follow-up letter to the Town Supervisor, Scott Russell. Willard read the letter to the audience.

Dear Scott,

This letter is a follow up to the comments from the Island Community Board (ICB) at the annual meeting on Fishers Island. First, thank you for coming to the Island again this year. We appreciated the various meetings that were held and particularly enjoyed the Comprehensive Plan presentation and handouts. We have had great feedback from that meeting. We were also delighted to hear of the plans for purchase of a Fishers Island Utility Co. owned property with funding from the Community Preservation Funds.

As stated at the meeting, the Comprehensive Plan had some great suggestions for improving infrastructure and some that are specific to Fishers Island. With this plan as a guide, the ICB would like to stay involved and be proactive on some key points. These points are outlined well in Chapter 4 page 21:

  1. Increasing pedestrian and cyclist safety
  2. Addressing sidewalk gaps
  3. Expanding bike network and routes. (Chapter 13 specifically states a Fishers Island goal of connecting a west end Bike Path to the East End Recreational Path)

We understand that the sidewalk project is set to break ground this coming Spring. We expect that “requests for proposals” will be generated this fall. Please make us aware of the dates that the requests for proposals or bids are going out. We would like to encourage island contractors to bid and would like to stay on top of dates revolving around that big project.  

Additionally, chapter 13 of the Comprehensive Plan speaks to goals related to parks, recreation, and open space. The community through notes, comments, and emails to the ICB fully agree with these goals and would: 

  1. Suggest that the extension of the bike path fits within the recreation objectives
  2. Ensure that the Parade Grounds (owned by the town and managed by the Ferry District) be changed from 10-acre zoning to designated parkland or open space.

We respectfully request that the Town Supervisor continue to be proactive in moving the bike path extension forward. The Recreational Path Foundation has made several beneficial contacts and will need some input from the town as they move ahead. They are working with the Navy to gather all relevant information and will need the Town to review and approve the safety design of the plan.

At our suggestion, John McGillian and members of the Recreational Path Foundation committee would like to come to Southold for a meeting and discuss steps to move the process forward. Fishers Island needs to get this transfer done for the sake of the path, but also for the benefit of the Town, as part of the existing road is encroaching on the Navy property now. This transfer would seem to be good for all interested parties and the ICB is dedicated to help make this happen.

The ICB believes that an informed community is a more productive one. With that in mind we ask that in addition to getting a three-year projection of Fishers related projects from the Highway Department that the following questions be answered in the coming weeks:

  1. Over the past 5 years on average what percent of the Highway Department’s expenditures have been spent at Fishers Island
  2. Over the last 5 years on average how much of the Highway Departments yearly expenditures on Fishers Island has been for capital improvements and major repairs versus salaries and routine maintenance. How does this compare to other hamlets?

Additionally, as part of our safety initiative, the ICB will be submitting a formal request to the Town addressing the need for a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Montauk and Oriental Ave.

Lastly, the ICB invites you to come back to the Island for our Columbus Day meeting this year. I think that will give us more time to talk in-depth about some of these ideas and issues. Our meeting is scheduled for October 12th at 4:00 pm. We recognize that this is a busy time and if this is not ideal for you, please consider another time. Our monthly meetings are on the second Tuesdays of the month.

Thank you for your time.

Willard Soper, ICB President

Additional information about the use of funds, over the past 5 years the 2% Preservation Funds has accumulated about $1.5 million from Fishers Island properties. According to the town, the biggest use of these funds is buying farm land or buying developmental rights so farmers can continue to farm on Long Island.

Relative to crosswalks and safety signs, etc, there is a specific process the town uses to grant or deny requests. George De Menil has volunteered to identify and photograph safety hazards on the roads and sidewalks. This may include specific sight lines that need to be cut back, or a stop sign, yield sign or crosswalk, etc and then develop a list of the worrisome areas. Areas of concern should be sent to George (gdemenil@gmail.com) and the ICB so consensus can be gathered.

Community members are concerned that the Town is not cleaning up or removing fallen down, broken or dying trees. Fallen over trees and brush piles are eye-sores and hanging branches are safety hazards. Willard stated ICB will send a separate letter to the Town addressing infrastructure issues only.

Annual Reports
Nate Malinowski stated that regarding this year’s annual reports he will use the same format as last year. Organizations should submit information through an online forum. The solicitation process will begin next week and the report should be available by the November meeting. Nate favors sending digital copies but 50 paper copies could also be printed similar to last year. There has been an effort to have each tax district include their budget while submitting their report, and to get a report from St. John’s Church.

Columbus Day Weekend Meeting Prep
Dicky Riegel reminds that during the annual October meeting each organization is to appoint or confirm a director. These organizations include the Fire District, Waste Management, Walsh Park, FIDCO, IHP, Ferry District, School District, Utility Company, Conservancy, Museum, and Community Center. The director can be the same as the prior year, or a new director may be appointed.

George De Menil suggests ICB write an appreciation letter to the Navy Secretary thanking that we are thankful for their clarification letter and support of the bike path extension. Willard agrees and will speak with the Rec. Path Foundation about producing a letter.

George also raised concerns people are confused between the Island Community Board and Island Community Center and suggests changing the name.

Willard stated it has been 1 year since the Waste Management (WM) study. Waste Management presented at the 2018 Columbus Day Weekend meeting a capital improvement plan costing about $4.2 million. After heavy negative community feedback, WM withdrew their project. After receiving over 100 letters, the community is in favor of making safety improvements. Willard and Nate Malinowski have met with David Burnham and WM will present next meeting.

Willard Soper brought up the fact that some people are referencing the 51% tax increase as an increase due to recent added expenses. Willard wanted to clarify that while expenses have increased substantially in the past 4 years (from approximately $690,000 to $900,000), some of the reason for the large tax increase was that Waste Management had for a number of years been able to use funds from the Pickett Landfill reimbursement to offset cost increases and thus kept taxes artificially low. Now all operating expenses are being passed through to the taxpayer.

Bob Evans added that money from the Pickett Landfill directly funded $100,000 in consulting fees and $400,000 in heavy equipment purchases.

Tim Patterson followed up stating WM spent around $4million when the Pickett Landfill was closed and that money needed to be spent to receive grants in the future. WM was advised by the state not to have such high fund balances.

New Business
Willard stated ICB is working on getting better AV equipment at meetings so video conferencing can occur and meetings can be recorded.

Utility Company
Tom Siebens updated that the community will start to see blue marks on the roads, mapping the current water mains. This will be followed by a drone with ground-penetrating radar to identify what is underground. Then an engineer can plan the work. One way to replace water mains is to dig up the road and replace what’s there, the other way is to installed a parallel main.

The working group on fire protection had their 2nd meeting last week. This was an information session about allocating the costs of what would be a long term costly project.

The bike path extension group also met. An electrical engineer was on island last week and meet with John McGillian and Jim O’Keefe about using the Utility Company right away along the Navy fence to extend the bike path. This would involve burying or re-routing all the cables along that stretch. This would involve serious engineering and cost. This is not something the Utility Company can pay for.

In connection with fire protection, Lucinda Herrick asked about the potential 2nd story going on top of the Fire Department and how those costs will be covered and the status of that project. Tom did not have a direct answer but stated further information may be in the Fire District budget for 2020. The budget deadline for next year is September 25th and that budget will become available to the public. A public hearing should be held 3 weeks after. By November 4th, that budget must be filed with the Town.

New Comers Committee
Meg Atkin was in discussion with Mere Doyen about starting a ‘New Comers Committee’ to welcome new families to Fishers Island.

Fishers Island School
Christian Arsenault stated the new school year is 1 week in. For the first time in years the school has more island students than magnet students and that number is growing. The school is still in the early stages of their capital improvement project.

Adjourned 6:30pm
Willard thanked Tom O’ Neil once more for completing his 2nd term as ICB President. Next meeting is scheduled for Saturday, October 12 at 4:00pm in the Community Center multi-purpose room.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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