ICB Minutes September 14, 2021 w/recording

ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 371, Fishers Island, NY 06390
Email: ficommunityboard@gmail.com

ICB Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
5:00pm
Zoom Meeting

Total Participants: 75

The ICB meets monthly in a public forum with the community to review and discuss Island priorities. Minutes of monthly ICB meetings are posted on the ICB website at https://fishersisland.net/about-fishers-island/island-community-board/ (Here)

ICB Representatives: Willard Soper (President), Dicky Riegel (Treasurer – Seasonal), Meg Atkin (Year-Round), George de Menil (Seasonal), Nate Malinowski (Year-Round)

This evening’s meeting began with a moment of silence and prayer in honor and in memory of Mary Horn who passed away on September 11th, 2021.  The tribute to Mary was led by Father Mark O’Donnell of St. Joseph Church in New London, who is also the pastor of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church on Fishers Island where Mary was a parishioner and a member of the Parish Council.

Willard Soper:  Minutes of August 10th meeting approved as written.

Dicky Riegel—Treasurer’s Report: Liberty Bank Balance is $5,459.73, includes deposits of $3,175 from the Annual Appeal; PayPal account balance is $1,532.67, includes deposits of $895 from the Annual Appeal and $50 withdrawal for Zoom monthly fee. Payment of $1,325 to MaryBeth Guimaraes (Secretary) for July/August was approved.

Governance—Results of voting and election:  Thank you to the Community for participating in the voting process. Proposed changes to the ICB By-Laws were approved by approximately 95% of the vote; changes to the By-Laws are adopted as of now.  There were two candidates nominated for the Year-Round ICB representative position—Tara Scott and Staley Sednaoui; Staley received the greater number of votes and will be the YR rep to ICB.  There were also two candidates for the Seasonal ICB representative position—Ted Rogers and John McGillian; John received the greater number of votes and will be the Seasonal rep to ICB.  Motion to approve Staley and John was passed. Again, thank you to all the candidates and to everyone who voted.

Tom Siebens—FI Utility Co: There is a new tower at ‘Top of the World’ to support an expansion of our microwave broadband capability; it will mean an immediate doubling of our broadband bandwidth connected to the mainland and we’ll be able to increase that cost-effectively overtime if necessary.  The next effort on broadband is to continue building out the Island’s fiber-optic network to ultimately bring fiber optic to the home.  On the water, we are beginning a pilot test at the surface water plant—the white building we all know—to modernize the water treatment process there so that it is faster.  Samples will have to be approved by the Health Department, but once we have Health Department support, we can plan for renovating that building and then go forward with the Island’s renovation plan for the water main and the surface water plant infrastructure, and get that going with the Public Service Commission. Since I am speaking on water, I will address the water at Middle Farms Ponds: as many of you know, we do get algae blooms in Middle Farms Ponds.  They tend to happen in the spring when the water warms, and also when water levels drop over the summer, particularly in drought years.  We have regularly communicated with residents around those ponds asking them to observe restrictions on using fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, etc. because chemicals from those products leech into the water and actually feed the algae blooms.  We’ve also asked them to pay attention to their septic systems.  We’re going to see over time whether that helps reduce the algae blooms, but that remains to be seen.  We’ve also asked the residents to stop draining water from the ponds; some had been doing that to irrigate and, again, this affects pond levels.  On electricity, we have a fairly immediate problem with the high voltage cable at Middle Farms Pond that supplies power to much of the East End.  Basically, the cable is failing because of the power load on the East End over the last 35 years, and because the cable is underground it overheats when running close to or at capacity.  We have had a few outages as a result of that, and because the insulation is degrading, we’re quite worried that the cable could fail even during a low load period, in winter for example.  So we’re now planning for a replacement cable; because of the operational advantages and efficiencies that cable is going to be above ground.  It’s going to be on phone poles along the route that is on the north side of East End Road; in other words, the other side from the driving range, and set back from the road so that we mitigate the impact on the vistas up there.  Obviously, a lot of people we’ve talked to are concerned about the impact on the vistas so we’re going to do our best to try and mitigate that. These things take a long lead time, but we’re hoping to have everything in place by next summer.  The bigger picture on electric: these kinds of piecemeal fixes are necessary, particularly with old infrastructure, but our real aim is to get a master renovation plan in place for electricity as well as for water, and we’re planning to install what’s called an “automated metering infrastructure” or AMI.  Basically, that will mean replacing your electric meters with modern ones that can be read remotely.  It gets us better data collection and will enable better data analysis on power flows and uses on Fishers Island.  That will help the consulting engineers analyze the Island’s network and help plan long-term improvements to the network that will make it more robust and efficient and get us to the Holy Grail of allowing renewable energy generation on Fishers Island, or at least accommodating that as part of the power system.  In that connection, we are also starting to take a look at the rate structure because we’ll need to change our rates so we make sure the costs continue to be covered for operating and maintaining the basic electric grid that the Island will continue to depend on even when we move to renewables. So that covers broadband, water, and electricity.

Willard—Sidewalks: Screen share and reading of letter re sidewalk repairs that is to be sent to Scott Russell:

Mr. Scott Russell
Town Supervisor
Southold, NY
RE: Fishers Island Sidewalks

 Dear Scott:

On behalf of the Island Community Board, and all the residents, we want to express our thanks to you, the Southold Council, and all involved for the recent sidewalk repairs/replacements that were made on the West End of Fishers Island. Despite some weather delays, the project was completed professionally and efficiently. The landscaping details were also very well executed, particularly the restoration of the staging area across from our local ball field.

Additionally, we would like to request 1) that the Highway Department now repair or repave roads, such as Crescent Ave and The Gloaming that are greatly in need and 2) that the town prioritize phase two of the Fishers Island sidewalk project to include the following areas:

  • from the northwest end of the Village Green on Equestrian Ave to the corner of Whistler Ave and Equestrian Ave.
  • Then continuing on Whistler Ave down to the school ( Note: This was one of the originally planned high use stretches )
  • Montauk Ave from opposite Union Chapel to the Gloaming

Thank you again for your attention to these matters. The new sidewalks look very nice and have improved safety for the community.

Sincerely,

Willard Soper
President Fishers Island Community Board

CC: Louisa Evans- Councilwoman
Beth Cashel- Neighborhood Liaison
Michael Collins_ Town Engineer

All in all the feedback from the Community on the sidewalk work has been positive—it looks great.  The sidewalk repairs have brought up some issues on the roads where repairs are needed—Crescent Ave and The Gloaming in particular.  Hopefully, this will get on the calendar of the Highway Dept, and we will also get on the Southold calendar for the rest of the sidewalk project as mentioned in the letter. Six years ago the project was estimated to cost $250,000; a year later the estimate was $650,000 to make all the necessary repairs at the West End.  We want to hold the Town to that second commitment that was made four or five years ago.

Paul Giles—FI Fire Dept:  I want to extend an apology to everyone for the unsightly mess at the Firehouse for the past two months. Unfortunately, the plans that were approved for the new septic system were, upon inspection, required to have changes and they were made.  At the next inspection, we were told that the tanks were not approved by Suffolk County.  So we are in the process of having the tank manufacturer submit specifications to Suffolk County so that they can then approve the tanks and we can bury the system. I am following up with both the tank manufacturer and Suffolk County. On the building front, I have heard from the architect that we have jumped the hurdle of the State of NY.  We are in the final review of the plans and should be going out to bid on the project by mid-October, and then, finally, I’ll be coming back with some concrete information about where we stand with the building and what it might cost to do it.

Beth Cashel—Neighborhood Aide:  This is an appropriate time for the sidewalks letter to go to Scott Russell as he is reviewing budget requests for next year’s budget.  I have also received some calls from Community members who have safety concerns regarding sidewalks.  I encourage everyone to not only bring your concerns to me and ICB, but to also to email the Town Clerk, Elizabeth Neville e.neville@town.southold.ny.us, and to copy me and Louisa bethcashel@gmail.com lpevans06390@gmail.com.  I would also suggest that you include a photo of the issue you are describing.

At the Planning Board meeting last night there was the approved and conditional sketch for the Walsh Park application to subdivide the School land parcel between Whistler Avenue and Winthrop Drive.  There is more information on fishersisland.net. I want to remind the community that this is the third step in a seven-step process: 1) in December, the Zoning Board approved, limiting the density to four units; 2) in August the application was deemed complete at the Town Board Meeting; 3) sketch approval; 4) preliminary plan approval; 5) final plan approval; 6) Purchase requires approval of Island residents via a referendum; 7) if everything preceding is approved, Walsh Park will proceed with the purchase.

Re DMV coming to Fishers Island: a final decision has not been made; Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio continues to advocate and lobby for this service on behalf of Fishers. Commissioner of DMV is also involved and looking to offer Fishers residents, at the very least, expedited services.

Willard: We will have an update from Walsh Park at the November ICB meeting.

Susie Parsons (for Chris Ingram)—IHP: Chris is unavailable this evening; he reports that everything is under control; no current Covid cases have been reported on the Island.  People returning to the Island who have been on trips, possibly to “hot spots” are being asked to test, which can be done at IHP on Island.

Willard:  The October ICB meeting will be on Saturday, October 9th, at 4 pm—both in the main conference room at the Community Center, and also on Zoom.  The agenda will include installing the newly elected representatives and voting on the officer positions as well as designation of reps for the Island organizations.  We will have updates from some Island organizations at this meeting, and more in November.

Q—to Tom Siebens: Why not install new cable at the East End on existing poles?
ATom and Willard: There are no existing poles.

Q:  Who will be allowed to vote on the Walsh Park purchase of School property?
A—Willard and Louisa: Everyone who is registered to vote on Fishers Island in School Board and School budget voting.

Q—to Tom Siebens: How are all the Utility company infrastructure improvements being paid for?
A—Tom: As much as we can, we’re self-funding; the Middle Farms project will be paid from retained earnings; there won’t be an immediate rate increase for that.  Something as significant as the water infrastructure plan will involve significant outside financing and that plan will require rate increase and going through the process with the Public Service Commission.  The broadband tower was paid for out of company earnings.  The Island’s infrastructure is old and it is going to require major investment.

Q to Paul Giles: What is the reason for the new septic system at the Fire House?
A—Paul:  The old system was failing, and it is part of the new Fire House project.

Q from Clay Yonce: Is the ICB or any other groups on Fishers Island monitoring and perhaps identifying opportunities to receive Covid relief funds particularly in reference to utility infrastructure, etc.
A—Tom Siebens: The Utility company is watching this carefully in a number of ways; we’re members of a number of industry organizations, i.e. American Waterworks Association, and they all put out notices re new funding that is available and we do try to track that. We have other people who, informally, let us know if there hear of some program that provides funding.  Many of these programs either haven’t been finalized, such as in the case of the Federal Infrastructure Bill, or they are limited in various ways as to who is eligible for funding or cheap government loans, or what sorts of projects they will support.  For example re water, a lot of funding is available for pollution clean-up, for assuring potable water, which, fortunately, is not a problem on Fishers. Or there is funding available for deprived areas.  It’s obvious that those programs are not available to us.  If anyone hears of a program that might be available to Fishers, please let us know and we’ll take a look at it.

Louisa: The Town has been allocated Covid funds for specific purposes.  One of the purposes is for infrastructure, so I’ve asked the Supervisor to look into whether the Utility Company, particularly the Water Dept and the Sewer District, would be eligible for any of those funds; he has yet to get back to me.

Q to Paul Giles: Will there be a referendum on the Fire House project?
A—Paul: Absolutely.  Once we go out to bid, and find out how much it will cost.

Willard:  The October meeting will be on Saturday, October 9th, at 4 pm at the Community Center and also on Zoom.

 

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