Dear Fishers Island Community,
I’m writing with an update on the Island Community Board’s current activities. Over the fall, winter and spring, our board has met in open forum with the community every month to discuss pertinent Island activities and initiatives. As in the past, our fall meetings were dedicated to prioritizing salient island activities concerning our community. The top three issues concerning our board are housing, waste management planning, and environmental stewardship. Subcommittees were formed in each category and tasked with discussing and reporting on said initiatives at our regular meetings.
Housing: Matt Edwards (chair), Christian Arsenault, Meg Atkin, Chris Finan, John McGillian, Candy Whitman
There remains an important need for more year-round housing on Fishers Island. By enfranchising all pertinent parties (Walsh Park, the Utility Company, FIDCO, and the Fishers Island School) to come together to discuss potential solutions to this problem, the ICB has continued to advocate for progress and partnership in this field. This has resulted in much needed, timely discussion of opportunities for housing of current year-rounders as well as potentially attracting families and individuals to live and work on the Island.
Waste Management: Greg Thibodeau (chair), Tim Patterson, Beth Stern
The Waste Management District provided an excellent synopsis and update for the community at the May meeting, centered on its proposed consolidation and building of a new Waste Management facility by the airport. We encourage everyone to follow the “Facilities Upgrades” page at www.fishersislandwastemanagement.com to stay updated on this important initiative. The District has committed to maintaining an open dialogue with the community to ensure that all questions are answered.
Environmental Stewardship: Tom Sargent (chair), Ken Edwards, Dixon Harvey, Tom O’Neil, Dicky Riegel
There are many exciting environmental initiatives underway. As reported at the June meeting, the HL Ferguson Museum and Fishers Island Conservancy continue to do a magnificent job in stewardship of our beautiful island, and each presented reports on the key current priorities of their organization, and of the Island as a whole. The Conservancy continues to focus on the Parade Grounds, partnership test cases on FIDCO properties, and work with graduate students and university professors on key Island environmental concerns. Initiatives of the Ferguson Museum are to continue to protect open space through their Land Trust (to which it recently added the 5-acre Chocomount Sanctuary), to maintain an extensive network of trails, and to address invasive species. Invasives are being managed through controlled rotational burning of our grasslands and mechanical removal in other areas — notably the Museum sanctuary — and planting with native species and using the local seed bank. Both organizations are also considering how to protect the history of the Fort Wright gun emplacements on Fishers Island.
On the heels of the ICB tax analysis, the ICB continues to encourage Island landowners to consider the sale of private property to the Peconic Bay Fund. This fund has been created by a 2% transfer tax on the sale of Island properties over many years, and can only be deployed on Fishers Island properties. In short, a private landowner or landowning entity can apply to sell its undeveloped property to the Peconic Fund at fair market value. The land is then protected, in perpetuity, as open space for all to enjoy. The ICB considers this a “win-win” for all islanders, and hopes to work more closely to help effect such beneficial transactions.
Additionally, there is progress on two priorities that the ICB has been working on:
Sidewalks: Southold has approved our request to repair the sidewalks and has indicated that phase one of a multiyear project will begin this fall. We expect requests for bids to be posted this summer.
Southold Liaison: A result of the ICB’s work in developing the community’s relationship with Southold, a new part-time position has been created and budgeted by Southold. This position will be located on Fishers, will work with all the various ICB organizations and through ICB and Louisa Evans will seek to provide a cohesive, united focus of the Island’s needs and priorities to Southold. We expect this position to be filled by the end of the year.
The ICB thanks each Committee for the commendable job they have done to present community opportunities and concerns around these significant Island issues. As a representative body providing a forum for dialogue around Island developments, I strongly encourage everyone to attend our monthly, open forum meetings so that we may hear all voices and points of view around these essential Island issues.