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Town Board Notebook: Supervisor Siller spells out priorities

One of the first duties that Supervisor Gerry Siller performed at the beginning of his term was a happy one — accepting money at Tuesday’s Town Board work session.

Jim Preston, chairman of the Shelter Island Ambulance Foundation, presented two checks to the town for $50,000 and $36,000. The foundation is a nonprofit that raises money largely from contributions and benefits through the year to offset the costs town taxpayers would otherwise have to bear for emergency medical care.

The first check was for funds not spent by the Foundation in 2019 and will go into the town’s EMS capital account, and the second was a gift from a donor to buy a new medical monitor that Island EMTs can use for emergency calls.

Mr. Preston noted that the cost of the last two ambulances purchased by the town “was borne by contributions.”

Mr. Siller outlined his agenda for the next two years, which included:

Water issues

The supervisor wants to continue the town’s commitment to improving the quality of the Island’s drinking water. He also wants to look closely at the Water Quality Improvement Advisory Committee, which is tasked with vetting homeowners applying for grants for nitrogen-reducing septic systems. Mr. Siller said he would like the committee to “have more definition of who qualifies for the systems, rather than just giving people [funds] when they apply. It’s not a never-ending fund.” 

Councilman Albert Dickson agreed, noting that the committee needs to be more selective.

Americans With Disabilities

The town has to comply with the federal statute to make public buildings accessible to those with disabilities. Mr. Siller called for a survey of all such buildings in town and setting priorities to begin work. At the top of his list are restrooms at the beaches and the Justice Court building. Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams said the town has about $150,000 in reserve for design and engineering studies. It was agreed that along with Justice Hall, the Youth Center at the American Legion hall top the list to begin work. Police Chief Jim Read made a bid to include police headquarters at the top of the list.

Green Options Committe

Mr. Siller said he wants to see Shelter Island become a model community for conservation.

Comprehensive Plan

A municipality’s comprehensive plan dictates policy on several fronts, including development, land use, natural resources and housing. Shelter Island adopted a plan via a Town Board resolution in 1994, but it was never acted on. A seven-month effort of discussion and research a decade ago produced an update to the plan, but the board rejected it. The plan is there, Mr. Siller said, and suggested taking the parts that are specific to the town’s committees to let them work on the ideas and suggestions.

Committee liaisons

Board members who are liaisons to the town’s committees should take a more active role at meetings, Mr. Siller said, rather than just reporting back to their colleagues on what has taken place.

Reel Point

The spit of land that reaches into Coecles Harbor has been a natural barrier protecting millions of dollars of businesses and residences that could be lost if Reel Point is breached. It’s been an ongoing problem, with many efforts to shore up the Point over the years. Councilman Jim Colligan gave a report of the current dredging work being done. Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. said that “this is the third dredging [by Suffolk County] in two years at $1 million a pop.”

Mr. Colligan suggested putting together a presentation for County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) and the Army Corps of Engineers to bring them up to speed on the severity of the problem.