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Comprehesive plan consultants meet the Town Board

Two firms, Dodson and Flinker of Florence, Mass., and Fine Arts and Sciences based in East Hampton, will be named at Friday’s Town Board meeting as consultants to the Comprehensive Planning Advisory Board.

Peter Flinker of Dodson and Lisa Liquori of Fine Arts and Sciences  — a former East Hampton Town planning director — told board members at Tuesday’s work session they have collaborated on many projects, including many on the East End.

The anticipated cost of a contract with the consultants is $138,290, said the plan’s project manager Edward Hindin.

Once the contract is officially signed, a Nov. 2 meeting with the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Board will get the process underway.

A municipality’s Comprehensive Plan dictates policy on multiple fronts, including development, land use, the environment, transportation, housing and other aspects of community life. It’s not merely a statement of beliefs and a guide to successful planning, but shows a commitment to serious ideas to improve the municipality, which in turn is used to attract funding from the state, federal, county and other entities.

Eight consultants responded to a request for proposals with four interviewed at length by Mr. Hindin and Councilmen Mike Bebon and Albert Dickson.

The selection of the two consulting groups was based on a number of factors, including familiarity with the area and an embrace of the Advisory Board’s concentration on enlisting public support for a new plan. Supervisor Gerry Siller called the latter “critical to the success” of adopting a new Comprehensive Plan.

At Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Mr. Flinker said he wants to engage residents in creating a plan that won’t just sit on a shelf, but be a realistic guide for the town to set and reach goals over a period of at least 10 years.

Mr. Flinker said he’s familiar with the 1994 Comprehensive Plan and the efforts made to update it 10 years later, only to have residents turn thumbs down on the revision.

He wants to hear from residents and business owners about what they want so he can better understand what works and what doesn’t for Islanders.

The plan that emerges needs to be possible to implement and not just a pipe dream, he added.

Ms. Liquori talked about her understanding that Shelter Island is “unlike any other place,” and a plan must meet its specific needs. For years, she has kayaked and sailed Island waters, ridden her bicycle on its roads, hiked its trails and dined in its restaurants. She is knowledgeable about the Peconic Estuary Program, Group for the East End, The Nature Conservancy and the East End Transportation Council.

Dillon Sussman of Dotson and Flinker promised that at each stage of the effort town officials and residents would be kept abreast of what’s happening and their views would be sought in developing a new plan.

Mr. Sussman stressed that it’s necessary to report to the Town Board publicly and frequently as the process is underway; to have regular meetings with the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Board; and to maintain ongoing communication with Islanders.

In addition to those who have been appointed to the advisory board, there will be outreach to others who sought appointment but weren’t chosen.

Official appointment of the consultants is slated for Oct. 23.