ISLAND COMMUNITY BOARD
P.O. Box 371, Fishers Island, NY 06390
ICB Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, February 8, 2022
Zoom Meeting & In-person at FICC
Total Participants: 62
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. Recordings are posted after rendering. Meeting Minutes are added once approved at the following ICB monthly meeting.
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 Dec. 14, 2021, meeting approved as written.
John McGillian—Treasurer’s Report: We have approximately $6,367 in the combined Liberty Bank and PayPal accounts. Request for approval of $1,250 payment to MaryBeth for Nov/Dec secretarial services; payment approved.
Willard: I’d like to remind everyone that we run about $8,600 in annual operating costs, and we accept contributions at any time.
Chris Ingram—IHP update: As you all know, there has been a spate of covid positivity on the Island, to the point where it’s become difficult to keep track of the number—partly because some people are on Island, some are off, and some coming and going. It has gotten to the point where it seems that the virus is running through us, and, indeed, even the School. The good news is that everybody seems to be tolerating it quite well; I haven’t heard of any cases that required hospitalization. Often the worst is a cough that seems to linger; also, I think the numbers have seemed to abate from a high about a week or two ago when we were testing 30 to 40 people a day sometimes. So where this leaves us in the Spring ahead is anyone’s guess. My notion is that more and more people are both getting vaccinated and boosted, and getting covid, which means that the natural immunity and the unnatural immunity across the nation is improving, and I think the virality of the virus is diminishing. This may end up being something we are living with and updating our vaccinations on a periodic basis. That’s where we are right now, on the downslope of this most recent omicron surge.
Willard for Paul Giles—FI Fire District: Paul spoke in December indicating that they had finally gotten the Town approval for the new septic system at the Fire House; it’s now been filled in and covered over. The Fire Dept has completed drawings for the new building and submitted them for a building permit. The next step is to go out for bids, and after that time, when there is a number as to the cost, Paul will plan on giving a full report. Paul apologizes that this has taken so long, and, once they get the bids, they will be taking it to a referendum vote on the Island. Hoping to have the numbers by April.
Geb Cook—FI Ferry District: First I’d like to touch base on what happened this past weekend with the Ferry. As most of you know, we had to cancel several trips and it inconvenienced a lot of people, and we apologize for that. We have had some issues since the Race Point went through a complete re-powering this past spring. The issue this weekend was related to the port main engine control—the control on the bridge lost contact with the engine. While the engine remained running, it went from being in gear (forward) to neutral. The starboard engine was not affected. The Race Point, as well as the Munnatawket, have three control systems. The captain, once he noticed he had lost power, switched to one of the backup controls and continued on. We informed the Coast Guard, as required, and they gave us a ‘Do Not Sail’ so that they could come aboard and inspect the following [Sunday] morning. After full reset of the engines’ systems was performed by our engineers, the Coast Guard, after a sea trial, allowed us to resume service. We ran the 10 am boat without issue on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, prior to the 2 pm departure, the boat was started at the dock and the port engine issue presented itself again. Ferry management, with Board approval, cancelled further trips until a technician from Twin Disc, the gear manufacturer, could diagnose the underlying issue. With a boat out of service, we had to charter alternate resources. We especially want to give a big thanks to Tom Shillo, whom I called and chartered the Popeye, and who, along with Captain George Peabody and JR Edwards, brought the Popeye to New London and ferried 42 passengers back to Fishers Island on Sunday night. On Monday a technician arrived and did his job; he was able to duplicate the fault and diagnosed a faulty wiring harness in the aft control. We updated the Coast Guard and have resumed service as of last night [Monday, Feb. 7]. You may recall that we had some issues this past fall; the last issue involved the starting system—we could crank the engine, but it wouldn’t start. It turned out that the batteries that were spec’d were not big enough, so we changed them. We replaced the batteries along with building our inventory of spare components for the engine and gear box along with wiring harnesses. Let me assure you that the Fishers Island Ferry Board of Commissioners, along with the Management, take this very seriously and, once again, apologize and ask for your patience while we work to restore your faith in a safe and reliable ferry service.
Q (Willard) to Geb: How did this affect the School?
A Geb: It didn’t affect the School; Monday morning we chartered the Cross Island ferry Caribbean and that ferried everybody to the Island.
Geb (cont)—On another note, I want to bring to your attention some personnel changes at the Ferry District. After 10 years of faithful service, Gordon Murphy is retiring from his position as of February 28th. On behalf of the Ferry Board of Commissioners, we want to thank Gordon for all he’s done to maintain and, in many ways, improve service to our customers. Replacing Gordon was not an easy task. I’m happy to report that, after advertising the position online, in local papers, the Coast Guard Academy and Mass Maritime, we had 10 very capable candidates. After multiple interviews with each candidate that included the Management Team as well as the entire Board, I am pleased to report that David McCall, a lifelong summer resident and now year-round resident, has been chosen to replace Gordon.
Nate: As a passenger on that Sunday night ferry, I want to say how much I appreciate you taking care of everybody. Thank You!
Nate—Communications: I want to give a report on what ICB is doing to build our Communications channels.
Screen shared document:
ICB Communication Committee Update
- Report on ICB’s Survey re: the application of NYS Cannabis Law on Fishers Island, NY.
The Communications Committee has prepared a Report on ICB’s Survey of the Fishers Island Community re: the application of NYS Cannabis Law on Fishers Island, NY.
- Announcement of Focus Group Timeline
ICB’s Communications Committee is hard at work on a series of focus groups. The first on Transportation & Infrastructure, held on Monday, February 28th at 6:00 pm.
Focus Group Timeline:
- Transportation & Infrastructure – Monday, February 28, 2022
- Housing, Zoning & Land Use – End of March
- Economy, Jobs & Cost of Living – End of April
- Environment & Human Services – End of May
There is an open invitation to all Fishers Islanders to join the focus groups. The focus groups will be administered online; participants will need a computer and internet connection.
Calls for participants for each will be:
- Posted on fishersisland.net
- Sent via ICB Mailchimp E-Blast
- Advertised on signs at Post Office, Ferry, and Grocery Store
We are asking those wishing to participate to RSVP by emailing email@example.com to receive the prep materials for the focus group and information on joining the call.
ICB’s Communication Committee will generate a report logging the response and synthesizing the outcome to be distributed at the March 2022 meeting. End Screen Shared document.
First, I want to give a report on the survey we circulated at the end of December about the application of NY State cannabis law on Fishers Island. Second is a report on upcoming work we are doing to develop focus groups to look at some concepts and characteristics of the Island.
Cannabis survey report—Screen Shared document *”Comments” section deleted for space reasons; comments may be read by going to the link in ‘Communication Committee Report’ (above):
Report on ICB’s Survey of the Fishers Island Community
re: the application of NYS Cannabis Law on Fishers Island, NY
Overview: In response to an open public hearing on the Town Boards’ intent to pass a Local Law entitled, “A Local Law Opting out of Adult-Use Cannabis Retail Dispensaries and On-Site Consumption Sites” opting-out of recently passed NYS law allowing for cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption sites state-wide beginning in 2022, ICB developed and distributed a survey to better understand island sentiment on the issue.
Outcome: 144 people responded to the survey. As the overwhelming response was in favor of the town’s position; the ICB took no further action.
Q1 I believe that cannabis dispensaries and adult on-site use sites should be allowed to exist on Fishers Island.
I do. 48 (33%)
I don’t. 96 (67%)
Total 144 (100%)
Q2 I am eligible to vote in NYS elections and am registered to do so on Fishers Island, NY.
I am. 42 (29 %)
I am not. 102 (71 %)
Total 144 (100 %)
Generally, ICB is happy with the number responding, though we would like to see a greater % of eligible voters responding. The survey demonstrated that this method is effective at quickly developing a position on island sentiment. We also generated good feedback from participants, that will improve future efforts:
- The timing of the survey could have been better.
- A platform that doesn’t require a google email would increase
- An option to respond anonymously, especially for sensitive subjects, would be appreciated.
See link above for “Comments”
First, I think we did a poor job of communicating why we were sending out this survey. It was never the intention to communicate that ICB was working for the purpose of bringing cannabis dispensaries to the Island. What we were trying to do was to understand the position of the Island in general—if there was reason for ICB to send a letter to the Town while they had a Town hearing open on the subject. As we said in the survey, it was developed in response to an open public hearing on the Town Board’s intent to pass a Local Law entitled, “A Local Law Opting out of Adult-Use Cannabis Retail Dispensaries and On-Site Consumption Sites” opting-out of recently passed NYS law allowing for cannabis dispensaries and on-site consumption sites state-wide beginning in 2022. The Town of Southold Town Board’s intention was to opt out of this law, to say they would like more time to further study the issue and they’ve done that, or I believe they are going to do that. The survey was sent out to the ICB mailing list and posted on fishnet. We had a pretty good response—144 people responded to the survey and, generally, the vast majority of people who responded—almost 70%–agreed that the Town Board’s position of opting out of this cannabis use and retail dispensary was the right decision. From our perspective at ICB, we’re very pleased with this process; we think that what it shows is that this model of survey can be used and can be in our toolbox to help us to understand the sentiment of the Island at large. You can expect to see ICB continue to use these surveys as necessary as we go forward. The other thing that came out of this survey that I thought was great was that we got a lot of good feedback that will help us improve this process going forward. One of the big pieces of feedback that we got was that the timing wasn’t great, and that’s something we had realized. It took us some time to develop the survey, and we ended up sending it out right before Christmas with a short turnaround time. This is something we recognize and will do better in the future. We also heard back that a platform that doesn’t use a Google email would be appreciated, and that is correct. I didn’t realize that our Google survey was going to require that that happened. We’re looking for a new platform and the next time we do a survey we’ll be using a platform that you don’t have to be a Google participant to use. Another piece that came up was that an option to reply anonymously would be appreciated, and that’s something that was our intention in the first place, but I clicked a box that allowed it not to be, so I’ll take responsibility for that. I want to take a moment in this forum to allow any other feedback from people who took the survey; I’d be happy to hear it. This survey will be posted on fishersisland.net and the comments will be included.
The other thing that we’re doing in Communications is to try to develop another tool that we can use to help us (ICB) understand the sentiment of the Island. In the past, one of the things we’ve done is to have open “office hours” where the ICB elected membership makes itself available to the Community at large in an open forum. We invite people to come in and talk to us about their concerns or interests or whatever. We’re going to try and change this up, and we talked a little bit about this at the last meeting, moving a little bit away from an open forum to more of a controlled focus group environment. ICB is working right now on putting together four focus groups that will happen between now and the end of May. They will be targeted on four very specific pieces: Infrastructure & Transportation at the end of February; Housing, Zoning & Land Use in March; Economy, Jobs & Cost of Living in April; and Environment & Human Services in May. The way this is going to work is like a controlled survey environment, where we get a group of people together, develop a list of questions, administer those questions to the group, and, where necessary, encourage conversation and more focused feedback. We are very lucky that we have a lot of resources on the Island that have a lot of expertise in focus groups, and ICB is intending to bring them into this. It should be a very professional process which I’m very excited about. There is an open invitation to all Fishers Islanders to join these focus groups. We’ll be posting the calls for participants on fishersisland.net, sending them out to our ICB mailing list, advertising them on signs at the Post Office, Ferries and Village Market. Posters advertising the focus groups will look like this:
You will see these signs go up with dates and times included as we get closer to each date. We’re asking anyone who would like to join to email us at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. When you email, you will receive an automatic response back that will have a link to the prep materials for every one of these focus groups. There’s going to be a certain amount of information that we’re going to be looking for, and we’re going to be asking people who are participating to come to these meetings a little bit prepared. That’s how we’re going to ask people to respond and express their interest in joining. What we’re hoping to do at the end of each one of these sessions is to produce a one-page report that we’ll be able to bring back to the committee, and that ICB will be able to use in general to help us understand the issues and concerns of the Island at large.
Q to Nate: Are you going to limit the number of people in each focus group? And what will you do if you get too many people who want to participate?
A—Nate: My thought was to cap the number of participants in each group at 30, and I was thinking it was optimistic of us to get to 30, and if we get to that number, it would be great.
Q to Nate: Will people be able to participate remotely in the focus groups?
A—Nate: All the focus groups will be administered via Zoom, and all participation will be by Zoom.
Q—Willard to Nate: I think this is a great idea and I was wondering if there is any way students in the high school could be engaged in this process or might want to be engaged in this process as part of their community service or as part of a project they might be doing?
A—Nate: That’s a really good idea; I’ll reach out to Christian.
Q—Willard: Will the email address to participate in focus groups be posted on fishnet?
A—Nate: Yes, and I’m putting it in the ‘chat’ now.
Q—to Nate: Can you participate in more than one of the focus groups?
A—Nate: I think the answer to that is ‘Yes’. I think if we got to the point where we had to turn people away, we’d prioritize people who hadn’t engaged previously.
Willard: The Eel Grass Coalition/Committee seems to be getting a lot of attention lately. We hope to get a report on the agenda for the March or April ICB meeting. Staley—do you want to make a couple of comments?
Staley: I’ve been approached by several community members who have a little concern about the Eel Grass Coalition’s efforts. One of the feelings is that the survey that went out was extremely biased, so it was very difficult for people to answer if they weren’t 100% aligned with what the Coalition wanted the outcome to be. The other comment was that their mission seems to be very unclear, not written in the clearest manner. People seem to feel that the Coalition is moving very quickly toward State or Federal laws—what would those laws be? How would they be enforced? And is there a big enough eel grass problem on Fishers Island to warrant laws? There’s an eel grass problem in the surrounding areas, but Fishers’ eel grass seems very healthy. Also, there are several organizations that seem to be listed on the Eel Grass website as representatives to the Coalition, yet those people have said they never agreed to be representatives to the Coalition, and they don’t have authority to be making decisions on behalf of tax districts. Those are the things I’ve heard from five or six community members. There seems to be a feeling that the Eel Grass Coalition is moving very fast where, perhaps, more time is needed, specifically for the people of Fishers Island to understand what exactly is being proposed and studied. There seems concern that they don’t want us to rush into rules and regulations that would limit dock construction, which is already quite limited, fishing, etc. Would the Ferry Commission have more regulations to follow? They already have quite a few regulations to follow. There seems to be a lot of questions and, of course, everyone is on board with conservation. That’s not a question. There seems to be a need to slow down a little bit, have more clarification, and make sure the Community is on board.
Willard: So, we’re going to reach out over the next month and see if we can get the Eel Grass Coalition to address these issues and anything else that might be pertinent to that, and it will be a priority for the March meeting.
Meg: I am on the Sea Grass Coalition on behalf of the ICB. I had a brief conversation with Stephanie Hall and Connor Jones a few weeks ago. I had explained that there were some concerns, but I would be happy to share with them the concerns that Staley has shared. I know that they do want to come to a meeting and speak to it. If you can arrange that for the March meeting that would be great.
Willard: I hope we get a great response to these focus groups because the benefit will be huge when we speak to Southold on topics and will be able to say that we have community input. As we all know, we finally got to a place where Southold’s council and the Supervisor look to the ICB as a representative of the voice and consensus of the Island. These focus groups will help us identify where the issues are and where the Community stands on them and give us a better voice with the Town of Southold. Please participate if you are willing and able.
Q (from ‘Chat’): I’ve heard that there are going to be some big infrastructure projects. Are the community and landowners going to be kept up to date on what is going on? And
Q (from ‘Chat’): Could we ask Tom Siebens to participate in the Infrastructure Committee?
A—Nate: Once I am through developing my process for the focus groups’ questions, I am planning to reach out to all the stakeholders that are within these topics. For the Infrasturcture topic, the Ferry, Rec Path, Utility Company—anything that is part of this infrastructure umbrella—will be informed of what the questions will be and give them the opportunity to help us sharpen the questions, add anything that they’d like to know or test or find out, and make sure that all that is available. I don’t know that it is necessarily beneficial for Tom to be in the room during the focus group, but we certainly want his help and participation and Chris’s [Finan] help and participation in crafting these questions and making sure we’re asking the right questions and understanding what the actual questions should be.
Q (from ‘Chat’): How did you choose the focus group topics?
A—Nate: The town of Southold has a Town Comprehensive Plan that they are in the process of rewriting. Those four topics align very specifically with the headers of the chapters in the Comprehensive Plan. The focus groups on these topics will help us—ICB—develop some very specific feedback on not only the sentiment of the Island at large, but also help craft that Plan as it’s being rewritten. We are hoping to get these focus groups completed by the end of May. In the fall, if there are other topics that we feel need to be addressed, we’ll certainly look at doing more focus groups.
The next ICB meeting will be on March 8th, and it will be on Zoom only.