ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 464, Fishers Island, NY 06390
ICB May 2020 Meeting
Tuesday, May 12th, 2020
NOTE: The Island Community Board has been hosting weekly Zoom video conference calls with the Fishers Island community each Tuesday night since March 30, focused on health issues and recommended protocols concerning the COVID-19 crisis. In preparation for and during the meetings, the ICB has worked with the Island Health Project and many local organizations to help propel regular, updated island communications. On Friday of each week, a letter to the community from Dr. Ingram, along with advice and FAQ’s are posted to www.fishersisland.net. Likewise, island organizations have been encouraged to post their own updates on the website, consistent with IHP/ICB protocols. The ICB will continue to work closely with IHP and all participating entities throughout the ongoing crisis to disseminate evolving Federal, State and Local guidelines.
The ICB continues to meet monthly in public forum with the community to review and discuss other island priorities. Minutes are provided on these monthly ICB meetings, as usual.
Total Zoom Participants: 146
ICB Representatives: Willard Soper (President), Candace Whitman (Vice President), Dicky Riegel (Treasurer – Seasonal), Meg Atkin (Year-Round), George DeMenil (Seasonal), Paul Giles (Fire District), John McGillian (FIDCO), Louisa Evans, Elizabeth McCance (Museum), Chris Finan (Utility Company), Christian Arsenault (School), Jeanie Cook (Community Center), Dr. Chris Ingram (IHP)
Staff: Zack Hoch (Secretary), Mere Doyen (Island Liaison)
Absent: Nate Malinowski (Year-Round), Marc Rubenstein (IHP), Geb Cook (Ferry District), Greg Thibodeau (Fire District), Matt Edwards (Walsh Park)
Approve April Minutes
Willard Soper motioned to approve the April minutes written by Zack Hoch. The motion was moved and passed.
Dicky Riegel reported there is just under $5,300 between the checking account and PayPal account. Dicky thanked all who have contributed and requests anyone who has not to please do so. ICB relies on donations from individuals and organizations and donations can be made online at https://fishersisland.net/icb-members/icb-annual-appeal/ or checks can be mailed in to PO Box 371.
Dicky announced that ICB Secretary, Zack Hoch will be stepping back from his position and thanked him for his service over the past few years.
Dicky reported ICB continues meeting with island organizations surrounding the COVID-19 response. The Big Club, Hay Harbor Club and the Yacht Club continue to plan around the upcoming summer, making adjustments to accommodate new protocols from the federal government, the state of New York and Island Health Project. The task force on children was formed 3 weeks ago and is led by Bonnie Benkard at IPP. The Task Force will present at the May 19th ICB/IHP weekly update Zoom meeting and illustrate their plans to address specific needs and issues of children on Fishers Island, with the expected influx of seasonal people coming to the island. IPP will answer family questions around protocols and provide a list of resources and activities that will be helpful to families. A FAQ section will be updated regularly on the fisherisland.net website. ICB looks forward to hearing from the Task Force next week.
Chris Finan reported the Utility Company is fully up and operational. After a short pause, safety protocols were established. People can call if they need to schedule a service appointment. Urgent work will be prioritized first. Employees have the necessary personal protective equipment and can enter homes on a case by case basis. Chris reminds that a handicap window was installed earlier in the year in the Post Office lobby. Transactions with the Utility Company can be made at that window. Chris noted the internet is running well and is only at ¼ capacity during business hours. Usage is monitored and they do not anticipate issues this season. People experiencing internet problems should try direct connecting to their modem. If that solves the problem, it is likely a wi-fi issue. If not, there is a problem and service should be scheduled. Later this month, the Utility Company website will include a section for basic troubleshooting.
Chris reported that two weeks ago, two car accidents occurred. In each case the car hit a power pole. No body was hurt but the impact was strong enough to crack the poles in half. The 2 poles needed to be replaced. The 2nd accident was not called in and was not discovered until 3:00AM. The Utility Company must be contacted immediately to inspect the damage and make repairs. Power poles are high voltage and can kill.
Chris reported for the Water Company that the aquifer is full and the wells yields are expected to be as they were last season. Every year the wells are reconditioned to ensure optimal yield throughout the year. This process was completed in early April. Seasonal water meters were requested to be installed 3 months earlier this year. There was a short delay, but after safety protocols were put into place all meters were installed. New remote read water meters were installed and the new units eliminate human error and provide more accurate reads in less time. The new meters also hold 90 days of customer usage data and can help with any billing questions and pinpoint a surge in usage.
The water distribution project is underway. Updates on that will come later on. One current issue with the water is the aquifer needs to be better protected. Testing has been going on to determine what is causing algae blooms. This Spring they began testing runoff around the aquifer and found high concentrations of phenomena in the water, which indicates a runoff of fertilizer. One property owner was identified hiring an unlicensed contractor to spread fertilizer two weeks earlier than the state allows. The Water Company prefers property owners in the watershed do not use fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides. A licensed contractor must be hired to apply the application. The Watershed is an extremely fragile system and if contaminated, will be a determent to the entire island.
The Utility Company housing project is underway again and has been for a couple weeks. Utility Company housing is deemed as an essential need, as confirmed by New York State. With some luck, Chris suggests the project could be completed by the end of May, although the CO likely could take longer due to delays.
Bill Bloethe from the Village Market reported people are asking when they will be able to resume shopping inside the store. Billy stated it is a touch and go situation at the moment but it could happen in the near future if certain protocols are followed, such as wearing masks and gloves inside. There is no problem with the food supply. The ICB commends the FI Village Market for their exceptional service to the Island over the past two months.
Louisa Evans reported the community is under 3 different orders right now: New York State, Suffolk County and the Town of Southold. Scott Russell is making the decisions with the Town regarding the emergency management. Part of the executive order was local governments had to reduce non-essential staff to no more than %50. Southold was one of the first ‘hotspots’ so the Town went beyond %50 and kept most employees out of Town Hall.
As of now the Highway Department is working with a skeleton crew. The Department of Public Works has all employees back at work separately. Town Attorney Code Enforcement is starting to be brought back on a limited basis and is splitting working between home and Town Hall. The head of the Building Department, Mike Bereday is working in the office but no permits are being issued and no inspections are taking place. The Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Trustees are closed. The Accounting Department is working split shifts. The Clerk’s Office is not open to the public but is working to issue permits which were applied for online or by mail. The Senior Center is not open to the public but they are preparing and delivering meals through their program. The Town Engineer just resumed working again on Monday, May 11th . Louisa will inquire about the Rec Path. Recreation is closed. The Government Liaison is working daily. The Justice Board is closed. There is now a drive-through at the Annex where people can get beach permits and pay their property taxes.
Louisa suspects not much will change in Suffix County on May 15th when the government could loosen restrictions. Seven criteria needs must be met before reopening and Suffix County has met five. Hospitalizations and deaths have not declined enough for reopening. The DMV remains closed. Meg Atkin noted that the Real ID deadline date has been extended until October 2021.
Year-Round Community Update
Candy Whitman urges that communication is the key to progress amidst the ongoing pandemic. Once summer protocols are released, there will be special considerations for people who work for more than one family or in more than one place. There are seasonal residents not on the island yet looking to hire island residents for miscellaneous jobs to reduce the risk of contagion from day laborers traveling back and forth. Islanders should promote their services. Candy reminds those walking their dogs to please keeps their dogs on a leash. Some dogs are aggressive and we are unsure if dogs can be carriers of the virus.
Meg Atkin reminds all people traveling to Fishers Island to go online and complete the health census. This helps keep track of who is on the island and provides contact information.
Dr. Chris Ingram reported zero new cases on Fishers Island and, on the I-95 corridor up from New Haven, there continue to be fewer case admits both to the hospital and the ICU. Chris updated that IHP and ICB are continuously working on protocols to create the safest environment for everyone over the summer. Chris noted that the census information stays confidential. Willard stated they will be sending out a draft on May 22nd of potential summer protocols for the public to comment.
Susie Parsons agreed to be tested for the virus at L&M Hospital to observe how the process works. She is still awaiting her results but reports that it was an easy process. There is a tent set up across the street from the hospital and it is very organized. If anyone wants to be tested Dr. Ingram or Dianne Shillo can set up an appointment.
Dr. Ingram stated they have 3 college students who will be helping at the Dr’s. Office this summer: Nicholaus Wilmerding, Mecky Kuijpers, and Amelia Riegel. There are 3 projects they will be helping with. One is the database of everyone’s information, the second is a symptom monitoring program, and third is a contact tracing program.
Stop Sign Letter
George DeMenil read a letter which will be sent to the Town of Southold proposing 2 new stop signs at the intersection of Oriental and Montauk Ave, creating a 3-way stop.
Stop Sign Letter to Town of Southold
We write to you as elected representatives of the Island Community Board of the hamlet of Fishers Island.
In the course of a review of stop signage and road markings on the public roads of Fishers Island, we have determined that one intersection warrants priority attention. This is the intersection of Oriental Avenue — the principal east-west axis of the Island — with Montauk Avenue. The combination of a blind corner, a turn in the road, and an incline to the top of the hill as Oriental approaches Montauk, all make the current intersection dangerous. Near accidents involving cars, bicycles and pedestrians have increasingly been observed at that location over the past several summers.
We have studied the question, and request that two stop signs be placed – one going east and the other west – on Oriental Avenue, on either side of the Montauk Avenue intersection — in order to make this a three way stop. A detailed description of the proposal is attached. This proposal has been presented at two, separate, monthly meetings of the Island Community Board, November 12, 2019 and May 12, 2020.
It has the broad support of the community. We ask that these two stop signs be erected and put in place before the expected increase of summer traffic, notably of cyclists and pedestrians.
Willard called for a motion to send the letter. Motion was seconded and passed.
Questions Received During Meeting
While driving to the store there is a puddle by the Briar Patch construction site on the main road. Why?
Chris Finan is unsure at this point and is looking into the issue and has contacted Micheal Collins.
Will the school be able to issue work permits for teenagers this summer as they have in the past?
Christian Arsenault answered yes they can issue temporary work permits and people should contact Christian directly. Christian will sent something to Jane to post on fishnet with his contact information.
Should day workers complete the health census?
How do people know if their property is in the aquifer or not?
Chris Finan answered it is the properties in the Middle Farms, Treasure Pond and well fields areas. Mere Doyen stated there is a map on the Utility Company’s website.
What are the Community Center plans?
Jeanie Cook reported they are waiting for the state and local officials to allow them to open the gym. It will not open until that happens. Grab and go dinners will begin May 19th for curb side pick up only. Orders can be made online and picked up on Tuesdays.
Link to May 12, 2020 Meeting Recording: https://youtu.be/y0PTE55LWPk
There will be another weekly update on Zoom next Tuesday at 5PM. The next ICB monthly meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, at 5:00pm.