ICB Minutes October 9, 2021 w/ Recording

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

ICB Annual Meeting
Saturday, October 9, 2021
4:00pm
Zoom Meeting & In-person at FICC

Total Participants: 72

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) when they are approved. Recording will be posted after rendering.

(Note: Speakers designated with a * gave reports in person.)

ICB Representatives: Willard Soper (President/Seasonal), Staley Sednaoui (Vice President/Year Round), John McGillian (Treasurer – Seasonal), Meg Atkin (Year-Round), George de Menil (Seasonal), Nate Malinowski (Year-Round)

*Willard: September 14th meeting minutes approved as written.

Willard: Elected ICB members will vote on the following three resolutions:

  • Officers: Willard Soper, President; Staley Sednaoui, Vice President; John McGillian, Treasurer; Nathaniel Malinowski, Secretary.
  • Liberty Bank signatories: Mere Doyen, Candance Whitman removed; Staley Sednaoui added.
  • MaryBeth Guimaraes as ICB Administrator with check signing authority up to the amount of $1,000, excluding checks made out to herself.

All resolutions were passed.

*Chris Ingram—IHP report: No new Covid cases have been reported; in fact, no cases at all currently.  We continue to test, especially those coming and going to/from the Island, as well as anyone who shows any kind of symptoms.  Pfizer booster shots are available for those over the age of 65, and also for those over the age of 18 who have any kind of complicated medical condition or who are at high risk for exposure both for where they work or where they live.  Pfizer has applied for permission to give the vaccine to all those age 5 and over, the new group being age 5 to 11.  There is no data yet to suggest that a booster shot is necessary for the Moderna vaccine or for Johnson & Johnson, and it is not recommended that you get the Pfizer booster if you’ve had either Moderna or J & J.  Re flu shot—you may get at the same time as vaccine or booster.  I continue to urge all those who have not been vaccinated to do so, for your own protection and the protection of others.

Q to Chris: How do you feel about mandates? A: Personally, I’m for them; it’s the only way we’re going to eradicate the disease. Another point that’s important to make for those who are still holdouts on getting the vaccine: it’s my impression that mandates are going to be more prevalent, so you might as well go ahead and get vaccinated before it’s mandated for your own protection.

Q to Chris: Are vaccines mandated at the School? A: Currently there is not a program for vaccination at the School; I assume if the Pfizer is approved, we’ll come up with a plan.  Though, as you all remember, delivery of the Pfizer vaccine requires hi-tech cooling equipment, and I’m not sure we’ll go down that route.  We’ll probably use our resources in CT.

Willard: As you know, we have a new Board in place with two newly elected reps.  The other thing we do on an annual basis is review the representatives from Community organizations.  If we haven’t heard to the contrary, we assume that last year’s rep remains in place.  For the record, the Town of Southold rep is Louisa Evans; Rec Path is John McGillian; Fire District is Paul Giles; Waste Management is David Burnham—Bob Evans will report for WM today; Walsh Park/ Matt Edwards; FIDCo/Mimi Gary; IHP/Wendy Henderson; Ferry Dist/Geb Cook; School/Christian Arsenault; Utility Co/Tom Siebens; FI Conservancy/Tom Sargent; Museum/Elizabeth McCance—Pierce Rafferty will report for Museum today; Community Center/Jeannie Cook; Library/Jon Britt; IPP/Elisabeth Parker.  If any changes to this list, please send an email to MaryBeth ficommunityboard@gmail.com

Willard—President’s Report Annual letter:

Island Community Board (ICB)
October 9, 2021

Dear Islanders:

As you are aware the ICB promotes the economic, civic, and social welfare of the people of Fishers Island, New York.  It carries out this purpose by serving as a forum for the discussion of issues affecting the life of the Fishers Island community at regular open meetings, by prioritizing these issues and by helping or coordinating with setting goals, by developing action plans to address these issues and achieve these goals, and by submitting such plans to ICB members.

During the past 18 months, the ICB working with the Island Health Project has been laser-focused on protecting the community from COVID – 19. I think all would agree that as a community we were quite successful. Additionally, during this period the ICB helped the Rec Path Foundation get necessary approvals for the completion of phase two, was involved in securing an effective neighborhood aid position and got the first phase of the sidewalk project completed.

The board’s key objectives for the coming year will continue to be to keep the community informed and to give all stakeholders a voice on issues that affect the Island.  Additionally, we seek to be a value-added partner with community organizations to help develop solutions to challenges as well as keep the community informed of the facts, not the rumors.

 The ICB’s focus points for the coming year will be on Infrastructure—from sidewalks and roads to renewable energy, Communications- from engaging various consistencies to publishing FAQ’s and responses, and the Environment, including helping the utility company with efforts to keep middle farms pond algae-free, to seagrass, to Nature Conservancy efforts

 As we did in 2020 in combination with IHP relative to the Pandemic, our focus for 2022, will be to have committees focused on these categories that will constructively work with Island Organizations  and periodically publish FAQ’s with responses

The committee chairs for these committees for the upcoming year:

  • Communications: Nate Malinowski
  • Environment : Staley Sednaoui and Meg Atkin ( Co – Chairs)
  • Infrastructure : John McGillian

Additionally we will continue to have a Housing and Governance Committees both chaired by George DeMenil..

Your elected representatives and I are happy to hear from anyone about any topics that relate to advancing the well-being of the year round and summer populations.

Respectfully, Willard B. Soper II

With that, I’d like to open it up to John and Nate and any of the other chairs if they would like to make any comments relative to the Committees they’re going to chair this year.

*John McGillian—Infrastructure/Rec Path: I’m quite excited to announce that the ICB and all of us are going to work hard to address all the infrastructure problems we’re facing on Fishers Island.  As you know the system is quite old, particularly the water system.  We are also seeing a lot more solar panels on the roofs of homes; this is something we’re going to try to work on because if everyone started installing solar panels it would certainly affect the survival of the Utility Company.  The Utility Company has accepted our help in trying to figure out a way to collaborate; we’d be a lot better off if we had a communal solar project rather than an individual.  We have to get ahead of this whole movement for renewables because the old models are not going to work.  America is electrifying—we’re going to see a lot more electric cars, battery technologies, etc.  Right now we don’t have any real solutions, but I’m happy to say that we’ve been very active with a group here including the Doctor’s father, Jim Ingram, who has been very helpful and is passionate about solar energy. The Utility company has invited Jim in to look at the data and help him with the information he would need to look into such areas as possible grants from USDA.  There’s lots of leg work we have to do; we could possibly get government support and we very well might.  There are also some people who have stepped up and said if there are financial challenges, we might look into creative financing.  I would like to ask anybody who has contacts in the government or in renewable energy to please contact me or ICB.  FIDCo is also very involved as a major shareholder and is reaching out.  There is no one who doesn’t want renewable energy, but everyone wants to know the financial repercussions.  It’s going to be challenging and I hope everyone is prepared to be patient.  Tom Siebens and Chris Finan are willing to cooperate, and they really want our help.

Q: *Barbie Riegel—One of the largest solar-powered facilities in the country is Longwood Gardens in Delaware. Would it be helpful for you to meet with them?  John: Whatever Barbie asks, the answer is always “Yes”, happy to meet with anyone you suggest.

Q: *George de Menil—What is your sense of readiness among organizations on the Island for this? John:  There are many obstacles; it will mean automating the system here and it will all be about money and time.  I think we can overcome the obstacles—there are great resources in the community to help with financing and with time.  It’s a rigorous process to find money from some of these government organizations so if anyone is really good at RFPs (request for proposal), please come forward.  No one is averse to renewables, but it is a question of whether they do it themselves or we do it as a community.  We hope to slow the individual actions down, but the only way to do that is for the Utility Company to speed their action up.

Q: *Louisa—Have you put out RFPs?  There are a lot of companies out there who do solar.  John: That’s a good idea.

*George deMenil—Governance: I’ve been asked to chair the Governance Committee, and I’d like to say that we all owe a great debt of thanks to Michael Roberts for his help, along with dicky Riegel, in revising the By-Laws.  The revisions/updates were accepted by 96% of the voters in the recent election.  The main charge of the Governance Committee is to carry out the By-Laws.  I’m also chair of the Housing Committee, and, as I see it, the purpose of the Housing Committee is to be forward looking.  There are a number of issues people are aware of, such as some organizations that have been building housing themselves for their employees.  And the question is: Is there a community move for cooperation/communication between Walsh Park, which is the essential organization, and these organizations?  Another question that has come up is that it is difficult for some people who live here to build up equity during their productive lives here.  That’s an issue that may well be worth looking at.

Willard for Tom Sargent—FI Conservancy: 2021 was a great year for the Conservancy.  Our fundraiser, “Sunset on the Beach”, had the highest attendance ever.  Kristen Peterson, our Executive Director, ran ‘Nature Days’ in August and had the highest attendance for that program as well.  The Parade Grounds and the Thatcher Demonstration Garden also had record usage this year.  The season ended with a Museum/Conservancy/Fishers Island Oyster fundraiser for ‘Save the Sound’ [that took place] in the Garden.  Our Centennial Program, run by Stephanie Hall, had a record number of student participants and is fast becoming one of the Conservancy’s more successful programs.  We conducted two Audubon constructed programs bird counts—Spring and Fall; the data is still being analyzed, but our avian environment appears to be sound.  The Conservancy continues its outreach to the Island community for the removal of non-native plant species which remains at the core of our mission.  As the pandemic eases, we hope to return our graduate student weed team to the Island in the summer of 2022.  The Conservancy is, as always, ever grateful to the Fishers Island Community for the ongoing emotional and financial support. Michelle [Klimczak] who runs our marine debris program had a banner year logging many hours and muscle to keep our coast free of washed-up refuse.

*Stephanie Hall/Elizabeth McCance—Sea Grass Management Coalition:

  • The Fishers Island Seagrass Management Coalition is working on a seagrass management plan
  • The goal of this plan will be to protect the seagrass that is currently growing in the coastal waters of FI
  • Compared to elsewhere in LI Sound, the seagrass here is in great condition
  • However, a decline in seagrass would be detrimental to local/regional ecosystems and economies
  • The Coalition is currently gathering feedback from communities, both on and off-island, in order to determine what should go into the final plan
  • If you would like to provide input, now is the time to do so
  • You can visit our website, fiseagrass.org, and navigate to the FISM Plan Page
  • From here, you can access a survey we have designed to collect input (it should take 10-15 minutes to complete)
  • We also recommend exploring some of the other resources on this webpage that will provide you with more detail on the plan and its components
  • These resources include a PDF that details Seagrass Management Area design options, a summary of past Coalition meetings that will shed light on how some decisions were made and a recording of an outreach webinar from this summer
  • You may also email us at fishersislandseagrass@gmail.com
  • The last day to fill out a survey and/or submit comments is October 31st
  • If you know anyone else that uses the waters around FI and would be interested in providing feedback on this plan, please pass this info along to them.

We would really like to hear from everyone.  Sometime in January, we hope to meet with the Town and present the final plan.

Willard:  There will be elections in November and personnel in some Town of Southold offices might change—something to be mindful of.  Q to Stephanie for Sea Grass or maybe Geb for the Harbor: On the weekends in the season, the beach by the 8th hole of the FI Club golf course is a very busy boating destination. I noticed a few weeks ago that there are three buoys out there: one of them, a white one appears to be a washed-up flow-zone buoy; the other two are purplish-blue buoys about two feet high—not lobster pots.  I don’t know if they’re Sea Grass protection-related or if they’re related to the people getting there whose friends want them to get into the harbor without hitting a rock.

AElizabeth McCance:  The Coalition, through the Harbor Committee—a member of the Coalition—has placed two buoys that say—and maybe you can’t see the wording from shore but if you’re on a boat you can—they say “Please don’t anchor in the Sea Grass”.  They are outside the meadows to mark the edge.  I do not know what a third buoy is and maybe, as you said, it’s a drifter.  We actually had three buoys made but the Town of Southold only gave us permission to put two buoys in.  The third is in storage and we hope to get permission to install that by next summer.  The Big Club, also a Coalition member, gave us permission to install and they have been very helpful in this to create a sign that will go on that beach and that will explain the importance of eelgrass and how to be a better boater and not disturb the meadows.

Willard: That’s outstanding and I would hope the ICB’s Environment Committee and Communications will reach out to you to get the word out to every Islander.

Q: Where is this beach?

A—Willard: About a half-mile from the far East End on the North side.

Nate Malinowski—Communications: The Communications Committee of ICB is going to be focusing on communications in two directions—communicating from the ICB into the Community and communicating from the Community back to ICB.  We are ready to work as partners to help individuals and Island organizations to get their message out efficiently and effectively.  We’re also going to work on ways to be more responsive, accessible, and attentive to everyone who lives on Fishers Island and calls Fishers home.  I’m going to be chairing this committee, but we should think of all these elected representatives as channels of communication.

Bob Evans—Waste Management:

2021 Annual Report
Fishers Island Waste Management District

  1. For 2021 FIWMD reduced its tax assessment by about 10%. Our proposed 2022 budget calls for a further reduction of $25,000

Operational highlights:

Transfer Station:

  • Salvaged compaction equipment abandoned after Sandy
  • Began compacting bottles and cans reducing outbound containers by 65%
  • Increased compacting pressures by 50%. Increased outbound weights significantly, and reduced the number of container loads
  • Fabricated tops for compact containers. Now Osha compliant. Has forced commercial haulers to bring better separated loads.
  • Initiated a small, pilot community garden

Compost Station

  • Installed pit fencing to comply with OSHA guidelines
  • Reformed glass operation. Abandoned crusher (labor & maintenance costs exceeded freight gains and no market for product. Glass is now broken by heavy machine and loaded into voids of outbound bulky container.
  • Restarted swap operation on a limited basis
  • Produced significantly more cordwood, which was met with overwhelming demand. Diverted suitable material away from chipper reducing noise and dust impact on neighborhood

Shop:

  • Purchased and installed waste oil furnace. Every gallon burned represents a $6.50 savings between heating benefits and disposal costs. Encourages a more responsible treatment of used oil
  • Installed instant hot water heaters at both shop and transfer stations to replace inefficient tank heaters
  • Pared various expenses such as utilities, subscriptions, etc.

On the Docket:

  • Capitalized on rising market for aluminum by bale processing of cans
  • Streamline cord wood production’
  • Shift grinding to a biannual tub grinder. Reduce noise and dust and be more economical.

Other highlights:

  • At the end of 2020 the Board elected to eliminate the Manager’s position. This has resulted in many benefits not the least of which is a general empowering of employees.  Most of the cost-saving improvements were initiated by the employees.
  • For consideration: Waste Management controls the largest parcels of undeveloped and potentially commercial real estate. Twelve acres of the Pickett landfill’s nineteen acres is capped and restricted to limited use until 3029.  One of the current acceptable uses is as a solar field.  The compost station also has a significant amount of unused acreage both above and below ground.  There are competing ideas and designs for use of this parcel.  The current Board feels that plans for these areas could probably be developed by the Community at large, and that such discussions should most likely be hosted by the ICB Board and should include all invested entities.  We would welcome and appreciate everyone’s input.

Q—Willard: A question that goes to you, lessee, and Geb, lessor—I get a number of complaints about the condition of the road to the Transfer station, and the Town of Southold saying, ‘It’s not our road and we don’t have to take care of it”.  It seems there needs to be an effort with the ICB, Waste Management, Louisa, to get that road—a pond much of the year—repaired so that a person in a normal car can get their trash to the transfer station.  If there’s anything the ICB can do to help with that, we’re all ears and will put in the effort.

Bob: Also, keep in mind that there has been a significant increase in heavy vehicles using that road that are not Waste Management.  I think this is a planning issue and a broader issue that needs to address the commercial traffic at large and appropriate areas for commercial activity.  We’re certainly willing to help.

Willard: We as residents are going to pay for it one way or another, so let’s figure out how to get it done.

Bob: I defer to Geb.

Willard: Many people are allergic to bees, yellowjackets especially; it is a danger to bring your bottles and cans to the transfer station in the fall.  Perhaps whoever is on duty, and is not allergic, can assist with disposal of bottles and cans.

Bob: I don’t know what the solution is; we’re open to ideas.

Geb Cook—FI Ferry District:  I have looked into repaving the transfer station road and I received a budgetary request from one contractor for $100,000; that’s our starting point; it includes paving to raise the level of the road and address the water issue.  The Ferry District will proceed with dredging this fall.  Suffolk County will be sponsoring the dredging of Silver Eel Cove.  They have nine bidders that they are evaluating right now; work could start as early as November.  This will mean there will be no parking on the water side.  Parking will e limited to residents and commercial vehicles on the freight building side of the parking lot.  We ask that anyone who is not here in the winter not leave a car in that parking lot.  All the sand that we’re dredging from the channel is clean; we’re disposing of it on site; it is going on the berm on the water side; some of it will also be used for Ferry Park.  We apologize for the interruption on email notifications of freight deliveries’ there has been an upgrade to our UPS track pad system, which in many ways was a downgrade because we lost email notification.  We believe we have it fixed and you will again be receiving email notifications.  Both boats have been working well; the Race Point got new engines last year, the Munnatawket the year before.  This year the Munnatawket will be in the yard for a couple of months for semi-annual maintenance.  We will be replacing the engines in the Silver Eel.  We have a ticketing-tracking team on board that have been practicing all summer, getting familiar with the system, and we look forward to having that come on board sometime this winter.

Willard: How is the financial situation?

Geb: We’re in good stead; we’ve recovered and are pleased with our position.

Willard: I believe, when Covid happened, you received some funds from Southold?

Geb: No, we did not receive any outside funds.  Interesting note: vehicle traffic has stayed steady at about 4,000 vehicles a month, but passenger traffic is down.  We tribute that to people coming and not leaving. Commuter traffic is also down.

Staley: I’d like to commend the ferry for dropping some extra charges, almost unheard of in today’s world.  When fees go up, they rarely go down.

Beth Cashel:  I’d like to commend Geb on finding the grant that afforded the engine redo–$800,000.

Jeannie Cook—Community Center: We had a wonderful summer.  The mission of the Fishers Island Community Center is to enrich and serve our residents.  I’d like to thank Luke Fowler, our President, for all his support, and our staff—Staley, Linda, Dave—for all their hard work.  We’re open year-round, we have bowling, classic movie night, pop-up classes, etc.  Please give us your email, if we don’t already have it, to receive announcements and updates about our activities.  Thank you to Lily Starbuck for the West End Café this summer.  Lily will be posting her fall plans for the Café on her website and on Instagram.  Another success is the FISHERS ISLAND COOKBOOK that Staley worked so hard on with support from Linda Mrwoka and Heide duPont.  There are over 400 recipes from Island residents, the Clubs’ chefs, and even some recipes from the 1917 version.  The Annual Art Show took place in August, and we were fortunate to have Jeff Carpenter as volunteer curator; we had over 100 pieces of art.  John Harris and Mary Harvey also volunteered their time to make the show the success that it was.  Coming up: Donny Beck is organizing bowling teams, and there will be League bowling.  We’re looking for more teams so let us know if you’re interested.  The Turkey Trot will be on Thanksgiving Day; our t-shirts will be out soon.  The race will be both virtual and live.  Lastly, we had a donor donate solar panels for the Community Center to defray the cost of the air conditioning units that we have throughout the building.  We are working with the Utility Company, and we hope we can progress.

Pierce Rafferty—Ferguson Museum:

This past year, although quite challenging, has proven to be a productive one for the Museum. Here is a brief summary of highlights of our activities with some hints of plans for the future.

In 2021, the Museum expanded its schedule of programming and events, and, to date, has hosted 17 adult lectures and programs. They were all initially booked as virtual, but beginning in late July, as COVID restrictions eased, we began to convert some of them to being both “in person” and virtual. One of the few benefits of the pandemic has been that many institutions, including the Museum, have grown more sophisticated in their communications, and are now reaching more people than ever before through combined platforms. The Museum has also formed new partnerships, bringing in fresh audiences to our lectures and introducing speakers to the island who are more geographically distant.

Because our virtual illustrated talks have proven popular, we are planning to continue them throughout the off-season, hopefully offering one a month. The talks are each recorded and are accessible on the Museum’s website under the “Program” tab. The site currently stores six lectures from 2020 and an additional 12 from 2021. One can also access on the website six of my 50-minute illustrated Fishers Island history talks.

This year to date, the Museum has also sponsored ten in-person children’s programs, two of which were presented to IPP participants, our annual gift to that important organization. The Museum’s Fishers Island Nature Discovery program (FIND) returned in 2021 after an absence in 2020 due to COVID. The FIND program provided a weeklong, indoor/outdoor learning experience for 20 island children, six being Fishers Island School students who received scholarships.

This year’s annual exhibition, Fishers Island, Naturally, celebrates the natural history of Fishers Island as captured through photography. This shows brings together some of the best work of many of our Island’s nature photographers. It is viewable both in-person at the Museum, and, in an expanded version, on our website. Complementing the main body of the show are four special exhibitions on natural history themes: artist Genevieve Irwin Goelet’s Monotypes, photographer Todd McCormack’s A Closer Look, artist Duke Riley’s collection of illustrated beach trash repurposed to mimic scrimshaw, and naturalist Murray Fisher’s taxonomically arranged inaturalist.org observations of species seen on Fishers Island. Please note that the Riley and Goelet special exhibitions are going to be taken down by mid-October.

This year the Museum established a new “Art Fund” to facilitate the purchase of Fishers Island-related art. Revenue from the sales of some of the pieces in the special exhibitions mentioned above, artwork that was generously provided by the artists, will go into this fund, supplementing designated gifts from donors.

In 2021, Jack Schneider, our Land Trust steward, with the help of paid and volunteer adults, Fishers Island School students, and a dedicated “Youth Crew,” has continued the ongoing battle against invasives on our Land Trust properties, all-the-while maintaining our extensive network of trails.

This spring, the Museum engaged the services of a team of scientists from the New York Natural Heritage Program to conduct a biodiversity inventory of rare plants and animals on the 350+ acres of our Land Trust properties. This two-year study is the most substantial of its kind on Fishers Island since the Horning /Tucker study of 1994.

Another new alliance was formed in 2021: an interdisciplinary team of archaeologists and scholars from Long Island has begun a joint project with the Museum to investigate ancient Native sites located on Fishers Island. This relationship has every potential for reactivating archaeology as an integral part of the Museum’s mission.

We are intending to keep regular hours through most of October and “by-appointment” hours through the winter. I will be in California for much of the winter beginning in late October or early November and Mary Linda Strunk will be running the Museum during my absence. I hope to see as many of you as possible at the Museum before I depart. Finally, I would like to announce that next year’s exhibition is entitled: “Year-Round.”

Thank you.

Staley: I’d like to commend you on the Museum’s web site—excellent, very easy to navigate.

Pierce: Done in collaboration with Beth Jepson.

Willard: Has there been effective marketing of the web site?  Do people know they can watch the lectures after they’ve taken place?

Pierce: We’ll increase our marketing efforts on fishnet, perhaps adding links to the lectures at the end of our weekly eblasts.

Q: Willard to Jane Ahrens—Is fishnet able to track how many clicks a link gets?

A: Jane: Yes; about a month later we can see about how many hits a post gets.

Willard:  Walsh Park and the Utility Company will give reports at the November meeting, and there may be others whom we’ve contacted and haven’t yet responded.

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