ICB Minutes April 12, 2022 w/recording

by Jane Ahrens

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

ICB Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
Zoom Meeting & In-person at FICC

Total Participants: 56

April 12th ICB Meeting Agenda
1) Approval of Minutes, March 8th meeting
2) Treasurer’s Report
3) IHP update-Chris Ingram
4) LI Civic Associations-Staley Sednaoui
5) Southold Town Updates-Beth Cashel, Louisa Evans
6) SeaGrass Coalition-Elizabeth McCance
7) Communications Committee Report-Nate Malinowski

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 are 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 March 8, 2022, meeting approved as written.

Treasurer’s Report:  Liberty Bank balance is $2,433.18; deposit of $50; withdrawal of $1,000 (payment to ICB Secretary).  PayPal account balance is $1,659.09; withdrawal of $50 (monthly payment to Zoom).

Willard:  We need to build our bank balances back up; ICB has a recommended annual contribution of $25 per person.  We do appreciate contributions of greater amounts at any time.  Our operating expenses run about $7-8,000 annually, and we look to all of you to help us cover that and appreciate all you’ve done to date.

Chris Ingram—IHP:  We’ve had a couple of Covid cases reported in the past month; these were people who traveled to New York and came back to the Island.  There was a great deal of exposure, but—luckily no one else contracted it.  There are some new variants on the scene that are quite contagious.  How this impacts us during the summer, I’m not entirely sure.  I think the general consensus is that we’d like to see things go back to the way they were pre-pandemic (three summers ago).  The institutions on the Island have pretty much headed toward a generalized opening.  That being said, I think we need to be flexible, see what comes down the pike and make adjustments as we go.  We should know more by the next ICB meeting in May.  The second Covid booster has been approved and I highly recommend getting that before coming to Fishers for the summer, whether at home or in New London after getting here.  Also, if you haven’t been vaccinated, I recommend that as well.  The vaccine has been the sort of ‘silver bullet’ that has protected us.

The IHP new initiative has a main donor who does not wish to be named, and who also wanted me to get other backers even though it’s not a hugely expensive proposition.  Given that fact, I’m not going to be able to show you anything exactly today or point you to the Fog Horn where it was to be posted.  I will go ahead and give you the details, basically the three arms of the initiative.  What I’ve noticed over the past ten years that I’ve been here is that we have a wrap around emergency care, and that has morphed into some primary care for those living on the Island full-time.  One thing we’ve had difficulty with is some auxiliary services, particularly elder care.  I have chosen three components of what I thought the elder care could be:

  • Physical Therapy, including Sports Therapy—I’ve identified an individual in Rhode Island who has not only done post-op rehab, but sports therapy to help people increase their range of motion, strength, and agility. He will be coming to the Island once a week on Mondays.  Scheduling details are still to be worked out.  The hope is that he will be able to see up to eleven people a day at the Community Center where the service will take place.  This will be paid for out-of-pocket; if your insurance covers this service, we will provide the proper documentation to submit.  I’m hoping that Kapri Thomas will be the point person here for this service.
  • Home Care—We’ve identified an organization on Shelter Island (Shelter Island Home Care) and they have been out here; we’ve vetted them, and they are able to supply 24/7 home care on a live-in basis. They are certified CNAs (Certified Nurse Assistants).  The scope of things they can do is limited, but it would make a lot of difference if the alternative was to leave someone alone at home or place in a nursing facility.  This, too, would be an out-of-pocket expense, unless you have long-term health care insurance. This service can be arranged directly through the Agency, though it would be helpful to arrange through IHP (Kapri) so that we can monitor the patient(s).
  • Hospice Care—IHP has provided this service in the past, working with East End Hospice on Long Island, and it has worked very well.

We are well on our way to have a program up and running by late May/early June.  Further details will be available through fishnet, the Fog Horn, etc, so we might determine who/how many would be interested in these services.

Staley—Long Island Civic Associations:  The Civic Associations from the various hamlets in Southold have been gathering for about a year and a half, looking for commonality on issues that they can then bring to the Town that would be helpful to all of them.  This winter they invited Fishers to join, and I’ve been attending meetings.  The group is very diligent and many of them have professional backgrounds in community and planning boards.  A lot of their issues don’t pertain to us [Fishers Island], such as the ‘McMansions’ being built on former beach cottage properties.  Others are ‘water’ issues, such as scarcity and pollution; they don’t want to be a part of the Suffolk County Water Authority as they feel that would bring unwanted real estate development to their areas.  In addition, they are very concerned about their deer population and tick-borne diseases.  There are also issues with illegal rentals, and air b & bs—again, issues that don’t pertain to us.  They have a lot of problems with developers coming in and clear-cutting land, so they are very much in favor of rules and regulations regarding permitting for cutting down trees on private property.  This is one issue that could affect us very adversely on Fishers.

Willard:  Since the last meeting and this meeting the ICB reached out to all the contractors and landscapers on the Island to make them aware of the ‘Tree Code Proposal’ and solicit their comments.  They were reminded that this is in the very early stages, but now is the time to make voices heard.  [ICB has received some individual comments and feedback, all of which have been passed on to Beth and Louisa.]

Staley: One thing to add to my report is that I checked with Chad Mrwoka at the Water Company here, and we are in much better shape than Long Island in terms of water pollution. Our water supply is plentiful; we are not on an aquifer; we are on a glacial tilt—water comes from pockets in the clay, and we have not had the septic runoff and farming/fertilizer issues that Long Island has.

Beth Cashel—Town Liaison:

  • Tree Code: proposal is posted on fishersisland.net, and it’s important to get feedback early on that we can send back to the Town. The proposal is in very early stages; we will continue to update you as the Tree Code is being developed.
  • Large Houses [McMansions]: A code regarding this issue is in the final stages, and it will be posted on fishnet when available.  Within 4-6 weeks there will be a public hearing.  This is an issue that might affect Fishers Island so everyone should be aware of it.
  • Peconic Bay Preservation Fund: There is a proposal to raise this by .5% in order to fund affordable housing. The Town needs to come up with a plan to say how these funds will be spent, and then go to the Town for a wide referendum to be voted on.  The Town is hiring a consultant to help.

Louisa—Re Peconic Bay Fund: The Town Board is putting out a request for a proposal to come up with a plan that will then go to a public hearing, then to voters for referendum, most likely in November 2023.  I asked if Fishers Island could opt out since it will be of no benefit to us, and the answer was “No”.  I urge to all to think how this money could be used if the law passes.

Beth: One idea proposed was to use this money as down payments for first-time homeowners.

Louisa:  I’ve spoken to Ellen Harvey, Walsh Park Board Member, about this and Walsh Park is a different kind of organization, so she’s not sure it will help them.

Willard:  I’ve spoken to Ellen Harvey as well and certainly ICB will get behind Walsh Park and anyone else who has ideas about this should the law be enacted.  One idea that bears looking at is to use the money for down payments and support.  We should get pro-active here, or we might be opted out of the use of these funds.  We will get someone in the ICB to work with the community and with Walsh Park.

George:  This is an important matter and one we have to be quite careful about because what is affordable community housing for Southold may not be what is suitable for Fishers Island.  Is this a Southold Town tax?

Louisa:  It joins onto the 2% transfer tax; it is NY State legislation, but it only applies to the Peconic region, which includes Southold.

Willard:  It’s a state tax for the Peconic region.

George:  Who is passing the tax?

Louisa:  It’s actually not a state tax; the state allows this tax for the Peconic region—North Fork, South Fork…to put this tax on real estate transfers in order to pay for open space, development rights, and the proposal is to add the .5% onto the 2% for affordable housing initiatives.  The Town is not passing it; the voters would pass it in town-by-town referendums.

Beth:  We need to start thinking about ways we can use these funds and make our voices heard in the Town should the law pass.

Beth—Town Liaison (cont.):

  • Bids are being solicited to hire a consultant who will help with evaluating re-zoning, and whether we need new zoning or not. The proposal to hire a consultant is very informative, and should be posted on fishersisland.net

Louisa:  It won’t be posted for another month or so.

Q:  Would the .5% tax increase go to Fishers Island’s housing or all the towns included?

A:  Beth: All the towns.  Louisa:  All the hamlets in Southold; it goes to the hamlet where the tax is charged.

Beth—Town Liaison (cont.):

  • Town Barn: $150,000 has been allocated to move and re-construct the Highway Dept Town Barn.  The new location will be near the salt barn.  Completion is not expected until 2023, but engineers are reviewing the design, and it will go out to bid probably in the winter.
  • Police Barracks: Town is working on a need assessment, since we will have a year-round police presence, and the building is in serious disrepair. Bids are going out now for the electrical work.  The three town infrastructure buildings are the salt barn, the highway dept barn, and the police barracks.
  • Sink hole on Central Ave: the Town is in the process of contacting four property owners adjacent to the road where this occurred.

Willard:  For clarification, water eroded underneath the sea wall across from the Riegel house on Crescent Ave and the Three Sisters houses, creating a sink hole in the road.  That portion of the road is closed and there is some danger there.

Louisa:  It’s just a small portion of that road, not preventing access to any residences.

  • (Beth): The Town is in the process of contacting owners to get access to the area where the repair is needed; then to assess cost to replace the sea wall. It will probably be a $750,000 project.
  • Dark Skies Coalition: This has to do with minimizing the artificial lights in the sky at night, for environmental and ecological reasons.  A letter will be sent to hardware stores, electricians, and contractors to make them aware of the current Town Code #172, which refers to the use of light, light bulbs, zero up lighting, motion-sensor lights and fixtures having 3000 soft white bulbs.  We should be all be aware of the code and what it says, as fines will be imposed for violations.

Q – Willard to Louisa:  Do we have an idea of the time for the sea wall repair?

A—Louisa:  Hoping for this summer, but uncertain because they have to get the financing in place first and send out for bids.

George:  The ‘McMansion’ proposal may be an area where there is an opt out for Fishers, since it is not really a Fishers problem.

Willard:  We’ve also engaged the Conservancy re the Tree Code proposal; we certainly don’t want to have to get permits to remove invasive species.  Maybe we can opt out of both.

Staley: Someone on the call has said that affordable housing in CT is an 830G code, and it is having a bad impact on a lot of communities in Fairfield County.

Beth/Louisa:  This would not apply to Fishers as it is a State regulation, and we are in New York.

Beth:  I would advise everyone to read the code and the laws that apply to NY to fully understand it.

Elizabeth McCance—Sea Grass Coalition:

Report to ICB

  • Seagrass is a vital resource that protects our coasts from erosion, nurtures healthy populations of fish, lobster and many other species, improves water quality by producing oxygen and removing nitrogen, and sequesters carbon.
  • Fishers Island is lucky enough to still have healthy populations of this plant.  Seagrass has largely disappeared from the rest of the Sound.  90% has disappeared from LIS. Fishers Island’s seagrass accounts for 24% of what remains in all of LIS and 98% of what remains in NY waters in the Sound.
  • Members of FISM came together as a group of community members concerned about the future of this vital resource.  The FISM Coalition is a diverse group of volunteers representing a variety of stakeholder groups.  As a group, we strove to understand the multiple benefits provided by and the variety of uses of the nearshore waters.
  • This group has been working diligently for the last five years to understand the resource, the stressors on the system, and possible management actions that could be taken to protect the longevity of the resource.
  • Throughout our process, we have sought to both inform and receive feedback from the community in the form of articles, webinars, information tables, surveys, and other outreach events.  All of our meetings have been open and advertised on Foghorn.  We are pleased that there is heightened awareness of seagrass and our work and as always, we are open to feedback.
  • Because this is a very complex issue, involving multiple goals, multiple stakeholders, and multiple authorities, we are taking a very slow and methodical process.  The Coalition wants to come up with a well-supported plan that will maximize protection of seagrass as well as multiple uses.  Therefore, we are taking our time to finish our process
  • Once we have something that we are comfortable forwarding as a group, it is our intention to hold a community forum to discuss it broadly.  We are not there yet.  We have envisioned a dedicated meeting or meetings to provide ample time and opportunity for rich discussions. If there are other ways to engage in productive discussion, we are open to ideas.
  • There have been rumors that FISM has put up signs threatening fines.  I would like to stop the spread of this false information.  We have not done this.  Recently, signs have been erected to protect the nesting areas of the federally threatened piping plover. These are governed by the Federal Endangered Species Act.  I too find it concerning that the Fish and Wildlife Service chose such strict language for its signs, but I personally am proud that Fishers Island has habitat still pristine enough to host a federally listed species.  It is my understanding that the signs come down at the end of nesting season.
  • Putting my Museum hat on for a minute, one of the region’s expert scientists on seagrass, Dr. Jamie Vaudrey, will be speaking at the Museum on August 14.
  • Any questions or comments can be sent to fishersislandseagrass@gmail.com

Geb Cook—FI Ferry District:  No new updates; we expect to have the Munnatawket back in service soon.

Willard (for Nate)—Communications:  The Committee continues to meet with Island stakeholders and is finalizing our ‘Priorities Survey’ which we expect will circulate during the last week in April.  Since our last meeting we’ve received strong indications that there is a healthy interest in our community to organize a working group focused on the cost of living on Fishers Island.  Our committee is in the process of organizing that and we hope the group will begin meeting in May.  Anyone interested in getting involved with this committee can email nate.malinowski@gmail.com

The next ICB meeting will be May 10th at 5 pm, Zoom only.

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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