ICB Minutes November 9, 2021 w/ Recording

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

ICB Annual Meeting
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
5:00pm
Zoom Meeting & In-person at FICC

Total Participants: 84

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.

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: Minutes of October 9th Annual Meeting approved as written.

John McGillian—Treasurer’s Report: There is close to $7,000 in our combined Liberty Bank and PayPal accounts.  MaryBeth’s bill for Sept/Oct secretarial services plus expenses has been submitted in the amount of $1,426.55—approved.

Chris Ingram—IHP:  Good news is that, to date, we’ve only been putting out small fires; there is one possible case where an individual home-tested positive; that person is being re-tested, and everyone in contact is being tested.  Most, if not all of these people have been vaccinated, so we’re expecting little fallout from this exposure.  Of the positive cases, there has been no one seriously ill.  We’re continuing to recommend the vaccine, and the boosters, which are available now.  Willard: Are people on Island able to get to the mainland to get booster shots?  Chris:  Some may need assistance, which we can provide; we will not get the booster vaccine for distribution on the Island.  We support children getting the Covid vaccine as it becomes available to the various age groups. We also encourage the flu vaccine; we’ve had a strong campaign on the Island and have run through most of our supply, but we will get more.

John McGillian—Infrastructure: Solar panels are being installed on the roof of the Community Center; the Utility Company has agreed to work with the CC on this project, however they are still not supporting the installation of solar panels on other individual structures. There has been a great deal of discussion with the Utility Company by a group that is in favor of burying the cables that will replace existing ones in order to provide more power/service to the East End, as opposed to erecting 14 poles across from the driving range to carry the power lines.  There’s a group that has volunteered financing to support the burying effort.  The Utility Company maintains that it is cheaper to install and maintain the power lines on poles than it is when they’re buried.  Others argue that this is not the case. I will keep you informed on discussions in this area. We’ve had a number of discussions regarding the installation of a solar farm on the Island, most recently, with Phil Musser, an executive at NexEra (largest renewable energy company in the country), and he’s offered his assistance and guidance on this project.  The Utility Company is also considering renewables, but their time frame is contingent on the installation of new meters.  There are 771 meters to be replaced, at the cost of $166,000. Not until the new meters are installed will Utility be able to analyze the data to assess whether a solar farm is feasible for the Island.  Their time frame is 18 months.  We’d like to accelerate that, and we’ve got two efforts in that direction. I’ll keep you informed to see if we make any progress.  Rec Path: The Wilderness point detour is a little too tight and visibility not very good; we’ve now engaged Race Rock and they’re going to be clearing Wilderness Point. And I’ve gotten an estimate—which has to be approved by the Board—to widen the Wilderness Point part of the path, and maybe put stripes there on both sides.  We’ve also had a meeting with the Rec Path Board and we’re in discussion about where do we go from here?  A lot of people want to extend the path all the way into town; we’re far from any decisions on that; I will keep you informed.

Mark Gaumond—Walsh Park:  The organization is in a good place right now; we have some 33 properties that are 100% occupied, and we have a small backlog of people waiting for residences.  Three things I’d like to mention for peoples’ information: 1) I hope you have all received the WP annual fundraising letter; it will give you a good sense of our accomplishments for 2021. We’ve had good support over the years with our fundraising efforts, and the money raised is really important to us.  As you know, rents are set at a fairly low level and essentially cover interest and taxes on the properties. Rents are not sufficient to fund all our maintenance, repair, and capital needs. That’s a constant challenge for us, and most of the money raised through the annual appeal is earmarked for that purpose. $150,000 to $200,000 a year is spent on maintenance and repairs…roofs, windows, septic, boilers, etc.  2) We are very close to closing on a transaction that is going to be great for us and great for the Island.  This has WP selling to one of our current tenants a house that we own; so a rental property will become an owner-occupied property once this deal closes.  This is a step toward moving more of our rental properties to individual ownership.  3) School property: several months ago we received the Zoning variance approval from the Town of Southold; we agreed with the Town that we’d limit construction to a maximum of four residential units.  We’re now in the process of filing for a subdivision approval with the Town Planning and Zoning Board; once the subdivision is approved, we will work with the School Board to undertake a referendum of registered voters on the Island who need to approve the sale of the property by the School to Walsh Park.  If we are successful in acquiring the property, we will then proceed to site planning, detailed design, etc.

Q—to Mark: Comments have been received about the upkeep of WP properties, particularly to overgrown shrubbery. A:  We’re aware, and, frankly, if we had more money, we’d spend it on more upkeep.  We’re doing the best we can, and we do spend money every year toward this objective.

Q—to Mark from George deMenil: Do you have any renderings, drawings—obviously not precise—of how you plan to go ahead with development of the School property?  A: At least 12 months ago, we had a meeting with the neighbors at which our architects—Tod Williams and Billie Tsien—presented conceptually what it might look like: four structures, one-story, in keeping with the ambiance of the neighborhood.  That’s all we have at this point. George—Q: Might it make sense to share these drawings with the Community as they will be asked to vote on them?  A: We haven’t yet turned our attention to putting together the package that will be presented to the Community prior to the referendum vote.

Q—to Mark from Barbie Riegel: Everyone in WP housing has a talent/ability that they bring to the Community…gardeners, electricians, etc.  Is there a way to structure some payback to WP for all the generosity the tenants enjoy?  A: Good point, Barbie—thanks.

Q—to Mark: Are the people allowed to vote on the referendum registered voters on Fishers Island? Or those registered to vote in School Board elections?  A: I’m not sure.

Sara McLean:  The only people who can vote in any School Board election, or any election that is held by the School, have to be registered voters on Fishers Island.


Beth Cashel
—Town Liaison/Neighborhood Aide: Southold Nov. 2nd election results, includes several new members who will start in January:

Election

  • Greg Doroski (D) & Brian Mealy (D) – Town Board
  • Denis Noncarrow – Town Clerk
  • Eric Sepenoski (D), Liz Gillooly (D), Kristina Gabrelsen (R) – Town Trustee
  • Daniel Goodwin (D) – Highway Dept.
  • Eileen Powers – Town Justice
  • Kevin Webster (R) & Charles Sanders (R) – Town Assessor
  • Louisa Evans- Town Justice/Town Board

Budget

  • Budget was approved last week. A copy can be found online. I will send one to Jane to post on fishersisland.net
  • There is $250,000 in the capital budget for sidewalks. It is not specifically allocated to any location.
  • $38,000 for a Ford F- 450 truck for FI is in the capital budget for the Highway dept. There was one also budgeted in 2021 that has been delayed due to Covid.
  • There is nothing else specific to FI in the capital budget besides specific tax district budgets like Ferry and Waste Management. There are lines in the operating budget for the FI Harbor Committee. This is similar to other hamlets in the Town.

Sidewalks

  • The Town is waiting for the final bill from the contractor on the completed FI sidewalk project.  In the meantime, the Town Engineer estimated that the final cost will be about $600,000 for 3200 lineal feet (so about $187.00 per lineal foot or $990,000 per mile). He estimates that going forward it will probably cost $1,000,000 per mile of completed sidewalk, about 14% higher than estimated in July of 2018.
  • The Town Engineer reviewed the FI sidewalks and said most were in bad condition. He then formulated a plan with several phases. Phase 1 was supposed to be a stretch from the Ferry up along Whistler Ave. That phase was dropped when the project was fairly far along because it was felt that outreach needed to be made to the homeowners on Whistler and others as the sidewalk would end up being narrower than the present one, several trees would have to be cut down and probably not replaced (as it was the trees’ roots causing the uneven sidewalk) and many of the residences on Whistler would lose their walkways down to the road. After conferring with some ICB board members it was decided, rather than holding up getting some sidewalks replaced, to do the stretch we did this past summer.
  • Scott Russell said to me today that he does plan on committing more monies in the future for sidewalks. He is “not closing the door.” As a community, he asks that we review the sidewalk phases that have been identified to ensure that they are realistic in terms of scope.

Code/Legislation Change for Large Houses

  • Town is considering a building code change that would restrict the size of a building on a lot. FI may want to engage in this conversation and the decision-making process. Louisa will post draft of bill on fishersisland.net

Peconic Bay Region’s Community Preservation Fund’s 2% real estate transfer tax being raised .5% to fund affordable housing.

  • The Town needs to come up with a plan to outline how funds would be spent on affordable housing. It would then go to a Town wide referendum to be voted in or out. Louisa believes it is bill #6492 introduced in the NY Senate by Senator Anthony Palumbo in the 2021-2022 Regular Sessions.
  • Please note, Walsh Park is not an affordable housing provider under the Town guidelines (no income or first-time homeowners’ limits, etc.) even though it provides year-round resident housing.
  • FI may want to look closely at the bill to see if there is a way that FI can shape the Town’s plan so that FI can take advantage of any monies raised by the potential .5% in the real estate transfer tax.

Zoning Review

  • Town is in the process of implementing the approved Comprehensive Plan – a copy is at library or online.
  • Part of this process involves reviewing and likely changing the current zoning/zoning categories.
  • Town is in the process of hiring a consultant to help in this review.
  • FI should review zoning along with the FI Comprehensive Plan implementation. The Town’s thinking is that not all zoning categories are applicable to all hamlets and that a more nuanced menu may need to be created.

Public Hearings coming up

  • Public Hearing on 11/30: Southold chapter 280 Uses Regs
    • Revision of a current law, taking out an administrative step. Specifically, if you do not change the footprint of an existing building then you do not have to go to Zoning for permission.  This long-standing law does apply to affordable housing but has nothing to do with Walsh Park housing as Walsh Park housing on Fishers does not qualify as “affordable” housing as defined by the Town.
  • Public Zoning Hearing on 12/2: Request for Special Exemption Use Section 280-13C (15). Applies to recreational use purposes to construct two paddle/pickleball courts.

Town Meeting Agenda Item

  • Scott and I discussed my attendance at in-person meetings. He stated that he would put me, as Fishers Island Liaison, on the agenda of Town Meetings to communicate our priorities.

Willard—to Beth: Can you please repeat the time and date of the Town Board meeting where the zoning variance for the pickle ball/paddle tennis court construction will be discussed?

Beth: That meeting will take place on Dec. 2; the time and agenda and a link to the meeting are posted on the Town website on fishersisland.net

Willard: Beth’s role as liaison to the Town has certainly helped Fishers with their relationship and communication with Southold.  The one place where we—ICB—has fallen down is in our communication with the Town, and our Communications Committee is going to work on improving this.  Scott Russell will not allow Beth, as an ‘employee’, to report to the ICB on FI tax district meetings.  As a resident she can, but not as an employee of the Town of Southold.  We’re going to look at this during the next 30 to 60 days and find a way that we can be sure some representatives of the ICB are able to attend some of these tax district meetings so that we’re aware of the issues that are going on with the tax districts and the Town, as well as with the tax districts and ICB.

Q/Comment to Willard/Beth: If new trucks are coming to Fishers, what’s going to happen with the old ones that are still functioning, and what about the out-of-service trucks that are piling up next to the Highway Dept?  It would be good if we, as a community, could speak to the Highway Dept, especially with a new head coming in Jan 1st, and see about cleaning up that area.  Willard: It would be good if we could address this with the Southold Highway Dept, especially with a new Superintendent coming on board, and get that area cleaned up.

Q to Beth: What’s happening with the proposal to install a STOP sign at the ball field?

Beth: I think this is something we can bring up again with the new Highway Dept. and I will put it on my agenda.

Q—Louisa: On the Town Board agenda or your agenda?

Beth: My agenda to follow up on.

Louisa: Before it goes to the Town Board, there should be a resolution about how people on the Island feel about it.

George: There are mixed views on the STOP sign, particularly among the year-round community.  Before we go very far, I think we need to get more of a sense of what the community wants.  Some of those I’ve spoken to feel it is not a priority.  I did have a question [for Beth] regarding sidewalks.  You gave us a very detailed and thorough report on the sidewalk repairs, but $600,000 is not $750,000.  Sometimes Scott Russell promises things and then doesn’t deliver.  I would suggest that the ICB put together a survey to determine what the priorities are re sidewalk repairs.  Once we know what the community wants first, take that information and advocate it strongly.  Another question to Beth about the code change re building size, are you sure it’s of any relevance to Fishers?  It may not be very significant because of the acreage and the size of the houses here.  In regard to the zoning revue, I think this is something the ICB should participate in; if there are going to be changes, the views of the community are very important.

Beth: Thank you, George.  Absolutely, the building code change will affect Fishers; it’s going to apply to all sizes of lots; it will affect people in the West End, in the East End; it could also affect future potential subdivisions.  There are a lot of ramifications because we don’t really know what the parameters will be.  I encourage everyone to pay attention to this issue.  And, regarding sidewalk repairs, Scott actually said to determine our priorities and get them back to him.

Louisa: Regarding large houses, at our next Town Board meeting I am hoping to have a draft of that legislation that I will give to Jane for posting on fishersisland.net and send a copy to Willard and Staley to distribute however they want to.  I think everyone should take a good look at the comprehensive plan, find the references to Fishers Island throughout it, and be ready to talk to the ICB about where they would like to see us go with that.

Q—to Beth/Louisa: Is any money in the Town budget allocated to road repairs? Louisa: Yes, there is money in the budget for road repairs; whether Fishers Island will see any of it, I don’t know.  It’s in the operating fund and not assigned to any particular roads.  I’m hoping the new Highway Supt, who has been to Fishers and seemed sympathetic so, hopefully, we’ll see some work done.

Q from Kit Briggs: I am wondering about the infrastructure bill.  Would Fishers Island be eligible for any monies that would come out of Southold’s allocation? Or does Fishers have to apply for monies from that bill separately?

John: We’re exploring that right now, and Jim Ingram has been focused on all the funding programs that are out there, and now that this bill has passed, we’re going to explore that as well.  We actually have some lawyers who have volunteered to look into this as well.

Next meeting is December 14th.  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

 

Meeting Minutes will be added once approved at the next ICB monthly meeting.

 

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