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Concerned citizen seeks residents’ task force: Would counter Shoreline Access report

For the first time since its inception, the Shoreline Access Task Force encountered a challenge to the work it’s been doing to address problems of water access points and solutions to mitigate conflicts between residents and visitors.

Task Force Members have received their share of compliments since the work began, but as they approached completion of initial recommendations to deal with the most troublesome problems that have plagued residents for years, they heard from a critic who said their draft would exacerbate problems and fail to meet the goals they sought.

Resident Bob Kohn told the Task Force he wants to present an alternative proposal to the Town Board. He said he would like to have a separate task force with members who live on the Island.

Councilman Mike Bebon, the Town Board’s liaison to the Task Force, rejected that idea, suggesting instead that Mr. Kohn submit his suggestions to Bay Constable and Task Force Chairman Peter Vielbig for potential inclusion in a report due to be completed this week.

But that doesn’t mean the Task Force is rejecting ideas from Mr. Kohn or others, said Bay Constable and Police Department representative Beau Payne. He and Mr. Bebon told the many residents who attended the meeting via ZOOM they would be heard.

The Task Force has no authority to make any changes, Mr. Payne said. Submitting an initial draft to the Town Board is keeping within the charge to deal with some of the most troublesome water access points on the Island.

The draft being submitted in no way means the dialogue is over, Councilman Bebon said. It’s simply a way to get the Town Board involved now so it can continue to elicit more public comment as it refines the report.

It also doesn’t mean that the work of the Task Force is done. The work defined by the charge to the members is to identify needs, uses and potential at all water access points, a long-term effort to provide residents and visitors with opportunities to enjoy water-related activities without infringing on one another’s interests or spoiling sites in any way.

Parking regulations enforced by traffic control officers is expected to be one of the means of ensuring that residents who live in areas close to town landings, boat ramps and means of water access aren’t disturbed by others, some of whom caused serious problems at sites like Bootleggers Alley last summer. Residents have said efforts taken last summer to deal with problems were seen as temporary; they are looking for permanent solutions.

At some sites where parking is tight, residents would like to restrict use to Islanders, not visitors on day passes.

The town last summer had discontinued the day passes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Town Board just approved up to 10 day passes for visitors at a cost of $25. All 10 were seldom if ever used in the past; it would be unlikely that all would be heading to the same area and most would be purchasing the passes to go to Wades or Shell beaches to swim, Mr. Vielbig said.

The latest recommendations in this first draft are on the town website at shelterislandtown.us under the committees tab, and listed on the Shoreline Access Task Force page.

The recommendations are slated to be discussed next Tuesday at the board’s work session. The board generally provides time for public questions and comments even in advance of a formal hearing.

Those who wish can also read the draft and provide input to the Town Board in letters or emails in advance of the meeting. For access to that session that starts at 1 p.m., a request for the ZOOM access can be had by contacting the Town Clerk at [email protected], or phone 631-749-1166.