May 31, 2006

Board Discusses Youth Bureau

As reported in last week's edition of The Independent - Traveler Watchman, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell put a proposal on the table for a youth needs assessment that would be distributed to town residents to further ascertain what steps the town can take to act as a conduit for funding future youth programs.

The supervisor's goal is to form a town youth bureau.

Special Projects Coordinator Phillip Beltz was on hand at the May 23 work session with the needs assessment form, and the board discussed what steps should be taken next.

Councilman Tom Wickham suggested that before the assessment goes out, a meeting be convened made up of individuals who have had years of experience in the field.

Councilman Bill Edwards agreed that he would like to see the Southold Town Police Department have some input first, as well.

"The operative word is that this is a preliminary needs assessment," reminded Beltz.

Councilman Dan Ross said that with a preponderance of activities and clubs for young people, it would be advantageous to have the means to "pull it all together," and set up programs town wide, but questioned whether someone would be needed full-time. "Many activities could use a shot in the arm," he said.

Russell said again that he is looking to "play a leadership role" in the process.

The board agreed to move ahead with Wickham's suggestion of a "brainstorming session" before sending out the preliminary needs assessment surveys.

Anti-Bias Crime Reward

Russell reported that he had met with members of the Southold Anti-Bias Task Force about a recent incidence of graffiti at the Knights of Columbus and at the First Baptist Church which some feel could have been construed as hate crimes.

"It's petty crime but it affects sensibilities," said Russell.

The fear among the ABTF, he explained, is that often such incidents get reported and then "forgotten about."

To that end, the supervisor said that the idea had been suggested of offering a reward fund that would be used to catch culprits who are unlikely to remain undetected "unless someone brags."

Information garnered by the reward fund, said Russell, could lead to an arrest.

Such was the case in Greenport recently when a reward offered by the Guardian Angels was used to help gather information that led to the arrest of area youths involved in a burglary at the Mary H. Rec Center.

Just because recent incidents might not officially classify as hate crimes, said Russell, it doesn't mean they're being dismissed. "Locally, we want to say these issues are being taken seriously and not put in the hopper. We want to stand up and say, 'Enough is enough.'"

Assistant Town Attorney Kieran Corcoran reminded that a reward fund can be set up for any type of crime, not just a crime of bias.

Hamlet Study For Fishers Island

The board discussed a hamlet study for Fishers Island, which was left out of the first go-round last year. Justice Louisa Evans explained that what was really being requested by the newly formed Community Board was an update of the 1994 Fishers Island Growth Plan, that takes into account the relevant elements of the Southold Town Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and the Fishers Island Harbor Management Plan.

The update would be suitable for inclusion into Southold Town's Comprehensive Plan, and would be coordinated by former planning department head Valerie Scopaz, now of VMS Planning Services, at an estimated cost of $10,000.

Schoolhouse Preserved

Members of the Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society came before the town board at the last work session to request help in moving the county's oldest one-room schoolhouse, which has been donated to their organization by the Ruland family.

Estimated to have been built between 1760 and 1780, the schoolhouse would cost about $80,000 to disassemble, move, and restore. It would be impossible to just pick up the structure and move it because it is fragile.

The board said that although they could not help the not-for-profit, they should explore grant opportunities as a historical society through organizations such as the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation.

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