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Stewardship on tap for preserved properties; making plans so the public can have access

JULIE LANE PHOTO Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board Chairman Gordon Gooding shows new signs to be erected at town-owned sites purchased with CPF funds. Pictured with him is committee member Kathleen Gerard.

JULIE LANE PHOTO
Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board Chairman Gordon Gooding shows new signs to be erected at town-owned sites purchased with CPF funds. Pictured with him is committee member Kathleen Gerard.

The Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board (CPF) has purchased land to preserve open space on Shelter Island. Now the CPF is focused on developing stewardship plans for some of the properties to maintain them and provide access to the public.

At a recent Town Board meeting, there was a discussion about identifying acquired parcels that should be given high priority for maintenance, others that need some maintenance but less work and those that should be left untouched to preserve their natural beauty.

At Monday morning’s CPF meeting, Chairman Gordon Gooding reported that work is underway on the Lima Bean fields at the intersection of Cobbetts Lane and Manhanset Road by members of the Shelter Island Trails Club clearing invasive plants and create a pathway for hikers with proper markings.

Others on the list for  similar efforts will be the Shelter Island Nursery on St. Mary’s Road; the Dickerson Creek property; and Sachem’s Woods, where members of the Trails Club have opened up pathways,  put in markers and linked the site to pathways through Sylvester Manor and the Mildred Flower Hird Nature Preserve.

But even with all the work that has already taken place there, there’s a need for ongoing maintenance, Mr. Gooding said.

The state legislation that established the Community Preservation Fund back in 1998 allows for up to 10 percent of CPF revenues to be used for stewardship purposes.

The CPF fund, which comes from a 2 percent tax on those buying houses on the East End has, on Shelter Island, largely been used for land purchases through the years.

That will continue. But recognition that some of the land that’s been acquired needs maintenance to open it up for public use is gaining more attention from the committee in the past year.

FINANCING
Twenty percent of CPF money that comes to Shelter Island is allocated to the town for water quality improvement, but the Water Quality Improvement Advisory Board can turn some of its money back to the regular CPF Committee if it’s needed to fund a particular deal.

Funds are held in a single account for both purposes, but separate records are maintained to track funding and expenses for both committees.

Mr. Gooding reported that the CPF Advisory Board currently has two accounts in which its funds are held with $5,471,636 in Chase Manhattan and newly arrived funds of $140,913 representing the first three months of 2018; and $8,585 in a New York Class Account.

He is examining interest rates on both and also exploring the possibility of putting funds in CD notes that would make the funds available within a 30-day period if needed and provide a higher rate of return.

He agreed with committee members to work with Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams, a certified public accountant, to work out the best plan for handling funds in the future.

ACQUISITIONS
The town is expected to shortly close on acquisition of a 1 acre site at 46 Congdon Road using $800,000 in CPF money. The land belongs to Peter and Elizabeth Scudder and the purchase price, according to former Supervisor Jim Dougherty, was available at “a bargain sale price.”

The lot near the town-owned Congdons Dock will be kept as open space. It will become one less lot in that area releasing wastes into Congdons Creek from an inadequate septic system, Mr. Dougherty said at the time.

“The property has no building structures on it and is to be preserved in its natural vegetated state,” Mr. Gooding said last October when the Town Board voted to approve the purchase.

The site will be designated as the Burns, Halsey, Scudder Shorefront Preserve, he said.

Land owned by Quakers on Shelter Island could become available for purchase, according to Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. He said he’s waiting for word from the seller’s attorney approving the sale.

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