ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 464, Fishers Island, NY 06390
ICB Columbus Day Weekend Meeting
Saturday, October 12th, 2019
Community Center Multi-Purpose Room
ICB Representatives Present: Willard Soper (President), Mere Doyen (Island Liaison), Dicky Riegel (Treasurer), Meg Atkin (Year-Round), George de Menil (Seasonal), Geb Cook (Ferry District), John McGillian (FIDCO), Christian Arsenault (School District), Matt Edwards (Walsh Park), Jim Baker (Utility Company), Elizabeth McCance (Museum), Jeanie Cook (Community Center), Marc Rubenstein (IHP), Louisa Evans (Ex Officio)
Directors Absent: Candace Whitman (Vice President), Nate Malinowski (Year-Round), Tom Sargent (Conservancy), David Burnham (Waste Management ), TBD (Fire District)
Public Present: Tom O’ Neil, Liz Furse, Luke Fowler, Nat Howe, Kenny Howe, Anne Polk, Sam Polk, Barbie Riegel, Debbie Riegel, Peter Crisp, Pierce Rafferty, Thad Bereday, Ace Ahrens, Pru Gary, Ruth duPont, Diane Crary, Jim Tapscott, Mimi Gary, Thor Thors, Chippy duPont, Staley Sednaoui, Todd Williams, Rich Bartels, Ken Edwards, Bob Evans, Peter Burr, Cookie Edwards, Peter Brinkerhoff, Amy Harris, Nancy Parsons, Harry Parker, Ellen Parker, Sarah Porter, Wendy O’ Neil, Helen Braun, Margaret Chaves
Approve September Minutes
Willard Soper welcomed all in attendance and then motioned to approve the September meeting minutes written by Zack Hoch. The motion passed and the minutes were approved.
Willard reported the ICB sent a letter to Scott Russell and the Town on September 25th summarizing comments made at the Southold Day meeting, identifying island priorities. ICB has not heard back from Scott yet. The letter speaks about increasing pedestrian and cyclist safety, addressing sidewalk gaps, expanding bike network routes and asks for financial information regarding how the highway department spends their money and how they spent it over the past 5 years. This letter can be found online at fishersisland.net.
Five days later, a second letter was sent to Vinny Orlando asking when requests for proposals on the sidewalks will be sent out, so island contractors can compete for that business. The Town highlighted the Fort Stretch as a primary area for sidewalk improvement although other areas are also in need. The Town committed $250,000 per year over 6 years. Since the project is starting 3 years later than expected, the ICB is hopeful the Town will spend $650,000-750,000 on the sidewalks all at once and then look at other areas. ICB has sent photos to the Town. The letter also asks for a 3-year projection of repair work on the roads. Some road paving has begun by the Village Market and other side streets. The letter asks over the past 5 years what percentage of the highway department’s expenditures have been spent on Fishers Island, and how much money has been spent on capital improvements versus salary and routine maintenance. ICB awaits a response.
Dicky Riegel noted it was record attendance and noted 3 Southold reps at the meeting. ICB elections were completed in August and George de Menil is welcomed in as the new ICB seasonal representative. Willard Soper is the new ICB President, as Tom O’ Neil reached the end of his 2nd 3-year term. Candace Whitman is Vice President, Dicky Riegel is Treasurer. Meg Atkin and Nate Malinowski are year-round representatives. Zack Hoch is Secretary. Mere Doyen is Island Liaison. Organizational directors are appointed and confirmed each October meeting. Town of Southold is represented by Louisa Evans, Fire District is to be determined, Waste Management is David Burnham, Walsh Park is Matt Edwards, FIDCO is John McGillian, Ferry District by Geb Cook, Island Health Project by Marc Rubenstein, School District by Christian Arsenault, Utility Company by Jim Baker, Conservancy by Tom Sargent, HL Ferguson Museum by Elizabeth McCance, and FI Community Center by Jeanie Cook. Dicky thanks all representatives for their time and service to Fishers Island and ICB.
Dicky Riegel reported ICB’s funds are in good shape and since the Annual Appeal went out over summer, ICB has raised $4,980. $820 has been donated since the previous meeting. $4,666.72 is in the Liberty Bank Account.
Bob Evans read a statement prepared by the Waste Management Board. Bob stated that in the past year the island rejected Waste Management’s improvement and expansion plan. Since then WM has added 2 new Board members. The new Board is more diverse in their views and is striving to find balance and common ground with the community. WM has submitted and secured approval for their local solid waste plan and begun several projects addressing safety and operational standards. Safety fencing around the compost station is about %70 complete. Other projects are under consideration. WM is refining their management abilities and tools. This process has revealed areas that must be addressed. It is becoming increasingly clear that an equitable and practical solution will require cooperative partnerships. WM has recently arranged to hold elections with ICB and is exploring all avenues to expand voter eligibility and recently developed a new mass mailing list. Bob stated Board members have visited other facilities to compare operations, although it is hard to find communities comparable to Fishers Island, it still helps to learn.
Fishers Island School
Christian Arsenault first wanted to thank outgoing superintendent Karen Goodwin for her 7 years of service at the school. Christian reported this year marks the first time in a long time that school enrollment has more resident students than magnet students. The focus on adding year-round, affordable housing helps. There are 36 island students and 29 magnet students; 65 students total. Christian believes numbers will continue to grow if affordable housing opportunities continue to grow. Four students who started as magnet students, now live on the island. Four graduating students last year, all were accepted into college. Last year the school started accepting island 3-year-olds. This year the school has three 4-year-olds, and one 3-year-old. The future is bright for FI students.
Christian reported for the 2019-20 budget there is a 0% tax levy increase from the previous year and over the past 5 years, only a .76% increase. The school is in the very early stages of a capital improvement plan. The elementary wing will be renovated and will no longer be an open-concept environment; rooms will be walled off. The HVAC system, furnace, and sidewalks all need repair. Capital reserves have been set aside for these improvements.
The school is in discussions with Walsh Park about selling a 2.4 acre parcel of land, which would eventually be utilized to build housing. This sale would add to those capital reserves.
The school has formed a partnership with the Community Center for the 2nd straight year. Students have been provided membership from the Community Center to use the exercise facilities. The school requires 8 hours of community service per student to go on their annual class trip. The school recently hired a new technology teacher.
In terms of student achievement, there is a 20% increase in both English Language Arts and Math. FI school is number one in the state in their Regents testing in Algebra 1, Living Environment, Chemistry, and Global History.
Drama production 1984 (streaming live) will be Thursday, 11/21. Last year they performed Into the Woods.
Matt Edwards stated Walsh Park provides housing for exclusive year-round residents and has been around for 32 years now. Walsh Park has 28 total properties: 17 rentals, 11 owner-occupied. Approximately 45% of the year-round population lives in Walsh Park housing. One new family had been brought to the island this year and has 3 kids attending the school. There is a backlog on the waiting list in the double digits for people hoping to be provided with housing. Currently there are no openings. Walsh Park is working to purchase a 2.4 acre parcel of land from the school. This has been ongoing for years now, but is expected to be a long process.
The Ferry Apartment Project started in July and is slightly ahead of schedule. The roof was put on a couple weeks ago and new windows will be installed next. Project is looking amazing. Matt thanked the Ferry District for clearing out the first floor and relocating the contractors. The building apartments will include 6 units: 3 2-BR apartments and 3 1-BR apartments. The apartments are in high demand. Matt hopes the units will be ready to show off by next July. It has not been decided who will move into the units.
Geb Cook reported for the Ferry District and stated it has been great working with Walsh Park and BD and seeing improvements to the building. Geb stated the Ferry District is responsible for the delay on Lucinda Herrick’s ‘Ferry Park’ idea. Dredging in the spring was delayed because the Ferry District awaits budget details. During the waiting period, they identified the county has a dredging program. On Southold Day Geb met with a Suffolk County legislator, who is helping to get the dredging done for lesser costs. Once that happens, plans will continue with the park.
This past year the fast ferry, Silver Eel was introduced and has been a huge success. Geb is unsure if it will run all year long, at least until the end of October, possibly longer depending on the weather. The staff has embraced the vessel. A floating ramp/dock potentially could be added on the island side to help the elderly board the vessel, however, it would be costly.
New engines were installed on the Munnatawket and this year the district is filing grant applications for new engines on the Race Point. The grant request is for $1.2M. This includes 4 engines: 2 main engines and 2 generators. The Race Point expects to run all winter long. The Ferry District has made an agreement with the Highway Department to share their backhoe which was rarely used. The Ferry District is also looking into a ‘gentle adjustment’ to ferry fares which would eliminate off-peak rates. Resident rates will still apply. This adjustment projects to earn the Ferry District an extra $150,000 annually and could go into effect as soon as January 1st.
When asked about potential odds on landing a grant for new engines, Geb answered they are applying through Connecticut and no other ferry operation is currently applying for engine grants so the odds are in their favor.
Recreation Path Extension
John McGillian reported that last week a conference call was organized with Scott Russell and his team, and the Navy, Mere Doyen, and Laura Chapman (who worked over 30 years in the Navy). John is confident that they will make this happen. It was a fruitful phone call and Scott Russell agreed to write a letter asking for an easement regarding the area where the bike path extension would happen. An easement is easier than a transfer and may also be quicker. If this does happen, it will cost money. Scott Russell is only listening because it is to be privately funded. In prior discussions, costs were expected to be around $500,000. However prevailing wages will raise the costs. The Rec Path Foundation currently has around $330,000 in the bank, they receive about $40,000 annually in donations but the path costs $40,000 yearly to maintain. John stated the gatehouse recorded 1,300 stickers were handed out this year. If the extension does happen, there is discussion around burying the cable wires along the Navy fence. A consultant has been hired to give some type of estimate to the costs of the project. Lastly, it must be considered where the path would go once it reaches the 4th hole at Hay Harbor.
HL Ferguson Museum
Elizabeth McCance reported for HL Ferguson Museum that they have seen tremendous growth and an increase in activity. So far this year the Museum has hosted 14 adult programs attended by 719 people and one additional off-site program at the School, attended by 22 people. Nine children’s programs were attended by 164 children and 84 supervising adults. The Museum lead 8 guided nature walks attended by 94 people. This year the Museum launched the Fishers Island Nature Discovery Program, which is an intensive nature program lead by 4 nature educators working with 22 students ages 5-10. Fifteen hours were spent in the field exploring island habitats. In June the Museum hosted the Habitat Restoration & Stewardship Working Group from a Long Island Sound study. In total, Elizabeth reported they hosted about 1,200 people this year.
The Museum received a grant from the Dunlap Foundation and is working on an ongoing project to record Pierce Rafferty’s past lectures and digitizing some of the museum’s archives and making some content available online or on a future kiosk. The Museum now has a Facebook page and an Instagram account. Over the last 2 years, through the Fishers Island Land Trust, the Museum has been facilitating the protection of undeveloped land and properties around Middle Farms. The Museum was considering purchasing the 5 acre lot for sale from the Utility Company, but realized the land parcel would be a good candidate for the 2% Peconic Bay Fund and the lot will continue to be protected and money will come back to FI. This year the Museum also published a revised trail guide so people can continue to enjoy the nature trails. Another exciting development has been the expansion of the staff. Last November Emily Bodell was hired as Seagrass Management Coalition Coordinator, through a grant received through the Land Trust Alliance. In April, Jack Schneider was hired as Land Trust Coordinator. The next Seagrass Management Coalition meeting is Wednesday, October 30th and is open to the public.
Jeanie Cook reported for the Community Center that membership numbers are increasing and it is wonderful having good working relationships with all the Board members. Jeanie thanks the Community Center staff, President and Board for being supportive; Luke Fowler, Elizabeth Reid, Staley Sednaoui, Linda Mrowka, Stacey McCarthy, and David Hoch. Some of the events and fundraisers held this year were the Kentucky Derby party in March, the Fireworks Cruise, the Art Show, BBQ Band Night, Movie Night, the upcoming Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, painting classes, and community dinners. The Community Center is always open to new programming ideas if there is expected participation.
Jim Baker reported there are no burning issues from the Utility Company at this time but offered their doors are always open if anyone has questions or concerns. The Utility Company wants to be clear and transparent and do right by the community. Jim updated that construction of the Briar Patch housing could begin within the next couple months, they are working through logistics now. The Utility Company recently purchased a 3-BR unit at the head of Fort Stretch. The Utility Company needs housing for their employees. Jim reminded that the water delivery system around the island has been marked by blue paint to help them determine where pipe replacement could occur. All digging projects are being coordinated with the sidewalks, thus the delay. Cost allocations have not yet been determined but the Utility Company will share that information once it becomes available.
Louisa Evans reported more money was put in the capital budget this year for sidewalk improvements. If people see sidewalks in disrepair or have requests for traffic signs, they should contact the ICB and the ICB will communicate to the Town.
Louisa noted the Highway Barn is falling apart, located on the way to the Transfer Station. Money has been put in the budget to build a new Highway Barn next to the new Salt Barn. There are concerns that the new Highway Barn will turn into a junkyard and an eyesore, similar to the current barn.
Anyone experiencing issues with coyotes should directly contact the DEC and know that coyotes are a protected species.
Mere Doyen will set up an Ad hoc Committee regarding land use and infrastructure.
Mere and Meg Atkin are working at getting the New York DMV to come to Fishers Island as they did in past years.
Tree Committee Report
Meg Atkin reported that 5 trees on Whistler Avenue are damaged or diseased and there are other trees in other areas in need of attention. Some trees need to be completely cut down, while others just need to be cleaned up. Tree roots are severely disturbing sidewalks.
New Comers Committee
Meg, Mere Doyen and Amy Harris are working on a welcoming committee for people who move to the island. The committee is planning a party on Friday, November 8th for the community.
A year-rounders meeting will be held Monday, October 21st at 5:00PM at the Union Chapel.
Recognizing Tom O’ Neil
The ICB wanted to recognize and thank their last President for completing a 6-year term. A great part of the ICB’s success and accomplishments came under the leadership and presidency of Tom O’ Neil.
Post Office Naming
Mere Doyen reported that although the island Post Office is doing fine and not going out of business, it is nearly impossible to shut down a Post Office if it has a name. Names of individuals should be collected so a ballot can be created. All box holders will be eligible to vote. A discussion regarding the pros and cons of naming the Post Office begun but was tabled for a future meeting.
Adjourned 5:50 PM
The next ICB meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 12 at 5:30 PM in the Community Center multi-purpose room.
- Please contribute to the ICB annual fund drive by the end of the year! Your support is important to us!
- Contact the F.I. Conservancy for information about managing your overgrown land or yard. Elizabeth McCance. firstname.lastname@example.org
- All ICB representatives please have your information for the ICB Annual Report to Mere Doyen by the end of November. email@example.com