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Signs of the times: Board debates open space markers

COURTESY ILLUSTRATION | Sixteen walks are outlined on a new map of open spaces on Shelter Island. A new initiative will link the map to posted signs at the sites.

COURTESY ILLUSTRATION | Sixteen walks are outlined on a new map of open spaces on Shelter Island. A new initiative would link the map to posted signs at the sites.

When are signs informative and when are they blight on the landscape?

The issue was discussed at the Town Board work session Tuesday, when two members of the Green Options Committee, presenting a plan for signage on preserved land, got some push back from Supervisor Jim Dougherty.

Committee members Tim Purtell and Dan Fokine showed the board examples of signs that would be put at entrances to preserved spaces on the Island. The signs would link to the map of walkable open space and preserved land that the committee has produced and disseminated.

The handsome, hand-crafted markers, designed to indicate the property is preserved and correspond to numbered walks on the map, are set on rustic poles to blend with the landscape. There will also be waterproof boxes to hold maps at the sites. The markers — about 20 in all — will not cost the town anything, Mr. Fokine said.

In addition to helping people locate and appreciate the town’s preserved properties, the signs will also indicate exactly where the public lands are and prevent people from walking on private property, Mr. Fokine said.

Mr. Dougherty said he was concerned that “we have sign saturation on the Island” and that “there is a busyness to the whole thing.” Later, he noted that “these are open spaces” and shouldn’t be used “to tell you where the next Kiwanis meeting is.”

Mr. Fokine said that the handcrafted signs are significantly different from other signs and the purpose was to “de-clutter” the Island. The proposed markers “are not a “curb your dog sign.”

Councilwoman Chris Lewis weighed in by saying she didn’t consider the proposed initiative to be “clutter.”

Liability issues were raised, especially that during hunting season town-owned land is open to hunters. Mr. Fokine said he could easily, with help from the police department, remove the signs when hunting was permitted.

Mr. Fokine and Mr. Purtell will now take the idea to the town’s Conservation Advisory Council and the Community Preservation Fund Advisory Board for more feedback.

In other business:
The placement of a portable toilet facility at the west end of Crescent Beach was brought to the board’s attention again. This is an idea that Councilman Paul Shepherd has advocated since last year. There is a facility at the other end of the beach, but as Mr. Shepherd has pointed out, it’s a long trek if bathers are at the west end, and a real burden for people with disabilities.

Logistics on building the facility were discussed with Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. and further discussion will be engaged in at future work sessions.

Mr. Card was given the go-ahead to look into purchasing a used highway dump trailer to replace one that would cost more to repair than replace.