ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 464, Fishers Island, NY 06390
ICB December Meeting
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
Community Center Multi-Purpose Room
ICB Representatives: Candace Whitman (Vice President), Meg Atkin (Year-Round), Nate Malinowski (Year-Round), George de Menil (Seasonal), Geb Cook (Ferry District), Jim Baker (Utility Company), Christian Arsenault (School), Louisa Evans
Staff: Zack Hoch (Secretary), Mere Doyen (Island Liaison)
On Call: Willard Soper (President), Dicky Riegel (Treasurer), Tom Sargent (Conservancy), John McGillian (FIDCO), Ellen Harvey (Walsh Park)
Public: Ken Edwards, Ace & Jane Ahrens, Bob Evans, Harry & Ellen Parker, Susie Parsons, Tom Siebens, Stalley Sednaoui, Tim Patterson, Sarah Porter, Lucinda Herrick
Absent: Marc Rubenstein (IHP), Elizabeth McCance (Museum), Matt Edwards (Walsh Park), David Burnham (Waste Management), Jeanie Cook (Community Center), Greg Thibodeau (Fire District)
Approve November Minutes
Willard motioned to approve the November minutes written by Zack Hoch. Tom Siebens alerted there is a statement in the November minutes claiming Fishers Island has the highest electric rates in the state. This is not the case. Year-round rates are in line with the average rates in NY state. The statement will be removed from the November minutes. George de Menil explained that he was speaking of the rate that the Utility Company has applied for applicable to seasonal residents; not the current rate.
Willard reported that the ICB sent a letter drafted by George to NY state regarding Electric Boat’s dredging project and dump site. The letter is posted on fishnet. The dredging has already begun. Louisa noted that NY State is currently in a lawsuit to stop the dredging. Thomas Sargent and Barry Bryan have also sent in a letter from the Conservancy. There was some discussion as to whether ICB should pressure the authorities to increase the percentage of the dredged material to be disposed of on land. No conclusion was reached.
Regarding the Bike Path Extension project Southold has finally sent a letter to the Navy asking for an easement with an attached survey.
Ellen Harvey reported that Walsh Park signed a letter of intent with the school in February 2019 to purchase from the school the land at Equestrian Ave and Winthrop Ave.
While Walsh Park is currently focusing their resources and priority on the Freight Building Project, they felt that they should take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a desirable parcel on the west end near the school, ferry, and village. The letter of intent is conditioned on obtaining certain zoning changes. The property is currently zoned partially Hamlet Density and partially R40. Walsh Park has submitted a request that the entire parcel be Hamlet Density. While such zoning would allow for up to 10 units on that land, Walsh Park has not developed any plans for how they would best use the property and ensures the community that they would not do anything that was not supported by the community. Ellen stated that Walsh Park has notified neighbors in the area about this project. Further she stated that Walsh Park had not engaged with consultants, engineers, planners, etc because its limited budget does not permit it to make detailed plans for a project which is not yet approved. The zoning application was submitted on Thursday, December 5th and includes a drawing. The site drawing suggests 8 units and is an old drawing that goes back to past discussions. The drawing is 2 units less than maximum allowed by Hamlet Density. Walsh Park is open to suggestions for the neighborhood and community. Walsh Park intends to draft a letter to the community in the next Foghorn and post online. Next, the Town attorney will review the application and the Town Board will send it to the Planning Department which could take a few months. The goal is to make this work for the school, the community and the island. There is no interest in pushing a project forward that is not supported by the community.
Louisa Evans stated that if zoning is approved, the community no longer can control how many units are built. People are concerned too many people will reside in the area if 8 units are constructed. Ellen replied the drawing shows 8 units because that is the maximum amount that would make sense in that site. Walsh Park still wants to work and discuss with the neighbors. People with concerns should call or email Walsh Park.
Ace Ahrens questioned that as a tax district, should the school try to get the best price possible for their land asset? Christian answered they are selling for fair market-value which is the appraised value for the land. Christian is unsure if the appraisal is available to the public. There is no agreement that school teachers will be given any of these units but it is a possibility. The school cannot build faculty housing on their land, only educational classroom space. The funds from the sale would go towards the school’s Capital Improvement Project.
Transfer Station Road
Geb Cook reported that as we all know the access road to the Transfer Station floods and is bumpy. At the request of the ICB, he has reviewed this issue and determined given the designation of this road the Highway Department states that it cannot address the repaving. At the moment nothing can be done to improve the road surface but he hopes to be able to eliminate much of the flooding. Geb and the Ferry District worked with the Highway Department to get a loader to the location and scraped the concrete surface back which allowed for some of the water to dissipate. Now the puddle is smaller. Willard suggests working with the Conservancy about adding a drainage swail similar to the dry well by Middle Farms. George asked about raising the road. Jim Baker suggested asking Jimmy Ski. Geb answered it is feasible, but someone will have to pay.
Ferry District Rates
Geb reported they are in discussions of raising the ferry fares. The reason rates are increasing is because the Ferry District has a number of capital projects it needs to fund. Rates are increasing rather than taxes in order to spread more broadly the financial burden of these projects. If they were paid for entirely by tax increases, home owners would bear the full burden, and renters and contractors would bear none of the burden. New engines have been installed on the Munnatawket and the ferry district has received an $800,000 grant to install new engines on the Race Point, which will take place next year. There is dredging that is needed in Silver Eel Pond. There is also work being done to secure a grant to repave the airport runways. The Ferry District is not initiating the airport work, the FAA is telling them the work must be done.
Reservation rates for residents will be $5 in peak season and $3 off-peak. Non-residents $10 peak season and $5 off-peak. The rate change will go into effect on March 1st, 2020. The Silver Eel high speed vessel was successful and will be back next year. The parking lot behind the freight building is going to be cleaned up and the Ferry District will start charging for parking. There is no time table when parking charges will go into effect.
Chris Finan reported reflectors have been added along the roads going up east, particularly on the turns and guardrails in effort to prevent accidents going forward. FIDCO also implemented a new construction standard for road crossings that has been distributed to contractors. It is a total construction standard for asphalt and gravel roads to ensure work is done properly and in a timely manner.
Mimi Gary reported FIDCO is looking into the Isabella parking situation. Parking was addressed at Chocomount Beach. About 30 parking spaces were added.
John McGillian reported Scott Russell was re-elected and the Secretary of the Navy was fired. Fortunately this does not change any plans. Cornelia Mueller, who was appointed by the Secretary of the Navy is still working with John. Louisa Evans has been pressing Southold to write the letter requesting an easement of land. The letter was sent Monday, December 9th. Now John awaits the Navy to respond.
Tom Seibens reported that the foundation for the Briar Patch two-family house will arrive Wednesday, December 11th. Prefabricated parts for the construction are expected to show up mid-January. The project is moving along.
The Utility Company also bought a 3BR apartment in the Parade Grounds apartment building. The apartment will be used for full time Utility Company employees only.
In regards to the water distribution system, an engineering report has been gathered that shows what will be involved big picture. It is a multi-year, multi-million dollar project. The next step is to finance a detailed engineering study that looks where the new mains would run, how to minimize costs, and avoid obstacles underground. The report alone is over $1M. Financing will be modeled based on estimates of costs. The Utility Company is looking at ways to raise money. Tom stated the Water Company basically has 2 sources of revenue. The first is people who pay for potable water, and the other is property taxes raised by the Fire District. Part of the Fire District’s budget is to pay for the fire protection infrastructure that is provided and maintained by the Water Company. This includes fire hydrants, over-sized pipes, the stand-by emergency water needed for pressure when there is a fire, and in some cases supplemental pumps to ensure pressure. Property owners typically pay for any additional infrastructure needed for fire protection. Water rates and property taxes may need to be adjusted. Tom predicts the Fire District will face numerous challenges because they want to put an addition on their building and they will have to pay more for the infrastructure provided by the Water Company. Compared to the accepted formula used by the American Waterworks Association and recognized by the Public Service Commission, the Fire District has been paying less than they should because nobody has focused on this before. In theory the Fire District should be paying 30% of the revenues for the Water Company and potable water should pay 70%. Today the Fire District pays 6.9% of the revenue. In order to pay more, property taxes will increase. Tax increases will occur in increments over time. When asked about EPA grants Tom stated their water engineers are looking into grants. However, EPA grants target cleaning up water contamination. Chris Finan stated there is Clean Water Act money that may be available. Chris is unsure if the Utility Company is eligible. The next phase for the engineering is to have the engineers look into the grant programs.
2020 ICB Meeting Dates
ICB meeting date ideas should be submitted to Mere. A majority of the Board suggests keeping the same dates, only move the meeting start time forward to 5:00PM rather than 5:30PM.
Meg Atkin reported the tree letter is on hold. Meg has scheduled to meet with David Burnham and Carl Scroxton next week.
Meg reported the Welcome Committee hosted a sponsored party in November for island newcomers and it was a huge success with a large turnout. Of 20 new island residents, 10 attended the event.
Post Office Naming
ICB is seeking suggestions to name to island Post Office. Agenda item for next meeting.
Adjourned 6:40 PM