Shelter Island officials met Friday afternoon for the weekly informational meeting on the town’s response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. They were joined by Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac)
Topics under discussion included town beaches; reaching milestones set by the state to open businesses; scheduled summer events; contact tracing; and the possibility of having a testing site for the virus on Shelter Island.
Police Chief Jim Read, who is the town’s emergency management coordinator, said the beaches are open for “passive use,” meaning walking or jogging, but no congregating or sports activities until June 27. There are no lifeguards and social distancing is in effect. The restrooms or portable toilets at Wades and Crescent beaches are open and will be cleaned in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. The restroom at Volunteer Park on Bridge Street is also open, the chief said, and will be cleaned on the same schedule. External hand sanitation stations are installed at all three facilities.
This year’s Memorial Day ceremonies have been videotaped and will be aired on Channel 22 on Monday starting at 10 a.m. and replayed throughout the day at the top of the hour. The Reporter will provide more information in the coming days.
The Shelter Island 10K has been postponed until the autumn, with no date set. The July fireworks event has been cancelled. The Farmer’s Market will open June 6. The Great Peconic Race will most likely be run as scheduled on July 18, since it’s a paddleboard event, Chief Read said, of about 50 participants who will find it easy to socially distance during the circumnavigation of the Island. Other events later in the summer are still pending.
Superintendent of Schools Brian Doelger, Ed.D., said state directives have cancelled summer school, but special education courses will be available in a virtual format. The Board of Education passed its $12.5 million budget and there will be a budget hearing this Wednesday. All registered voters have been mailed an informational postcard, in English and Spanish, advising them of voting procedures for the budget and three Board Of Ed seats. The budget will be posted on the school district website and absentee ballots will be mailed along with postage-paid return envelopes. A final public budget hearing will be hosted online on May 27.
Mailed ballots are due on the Election Day, June 9. A drop box will be available for ballots at the school, as well.
Legis. Fleming noted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, working with state and county officials, has established four phases to re-open businesses, and that the county is beginning to achieve the requirements to complete Phase 1. Suffolk has met all metrics except one, which is to meet numbers set on the decline of deaths from COVID-19 in hospitals. Ms. Fleming said that should be achieved in a matter of days.
Phase I will permit “construction staging,” or bringing materials to a site; limited retail (curbside or in-store pickup or drop-off); and manufacturing and wholesale trade.
Chief Read noted that town officials have fielded calls from local restaurants asking for outside dining on a limited scale with strict social distancing procedures. There would be no table service, but a family, for example, arriving together, would pick up to-go food and be allowed to eat at picnic tables outside. Presently, tables outside are considered part of the restaurant and can’t be used. Ms. Fleming said she would pass these requests along to County Executive Steve Bellone, who she said is virtually “in the room” with the governor when decisions are made.
Other Islanders have asked that a business on the Island that has, for example, 10 customers per day, be allowed to open, since big box hardware stores, which see hundreds of customers daily are open now. Ms. Fleming said that idea will be passed up the chain of government officials.
Contact tracing — finding anyone who may have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient to alert them to isolate and therefore limit further spread — is ramping up in the county, Ms. Fleming said, with a need for volunteers. It’s a paid position for 20 or 40 hours a week, and many elected officials are signing up, including Ms. Fleming and members of her staff. To apply, go to careers-pcgus.icims.com/jobs/5244/contact-tracer/job.
Ms. Fleming said that businesses that are struggling should use the free, taxpayer-funded Stony Brook Small Business Development Center. Town businesses that need more information should contact the Development Center directly at (631-632-9837, or Councilman Mike Bebon at [email protected]
The county legislator congratulated town officials and residents for a speedy and well-coordinated response to the pandemic, adding that Shelter Island has “been a leader in the region.”