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Group to ID Island waterway access sites in need of work

With approximately 70 points of access to waterways around Shelter Island, the newly appointed Shoreline Access Review Task Force got marching orders last week as Chairman Peter Vielbig asked each to identify between 10 and 12 sites they think are most critical for more attention.

In the discussion, the most quickly identified was Bootleggers Alley, where there were many complaints last summer of crowds fishing and picnicking with some people using the dunes as toilets, as well as leaving debris at the site.

The town moved a Port-A-Potty to the site, installed signage and added police patrols, but it remained a problem through much of the summer.

The aim of the Task Force is to identify sites and use a form developed by Town Engineer Joe Finora on how each can best be used and what is needed to regulate the individual sites. It would deal with such issues as whether sites can have multiple uses or should be limited to a single use. Parking, signage and amenities would be listed on each form. The aim is to identify each using the same criteria in order to prioritize needs.

The committee also will look at activities at the sites which may be inappropriate, such as the use of jet skis, kiting, and windsurfing. There’s also an issue of where seaplanes should be allowed to land.

Another need is to determine where some town landings have been lost as residents have encroached on access. Those would need to be reclaimed and have signage to explain boundaries so those looking to access the sites can do so without trespassing on private property, and to keep neighboring property owners from usurping what are meant to be public accesses.

With so much access to waterways, Mr. Vielbig pointed out the effort will long remain “a work in progress.”

The Task Force has scheduled its next meeting for 10 a.m. on Feb. 2 with expectations that the group will meet about every three weeks. Members will also be reaching out to stakeholders to get input about sites others may know about that need attention but the Task Force hasn’t identified.