Hardy Plumbing
December 07, 2011

Think Tank Starts To Simmer



Thiele
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It's clear there's widespread interest in the creation of an East End think tank, according to Assemblyman Fred Thiele. Last Wednesday he and Senator Ken LaValle hosted a kick off meeting for the creation of the Peconic Institute at Stony Brook Southampton. The pair deemed the meeting an "overwhelming success," with more than 170 participants coming out. "I was encouraged by the widespread participation of representatives of virtually every aspect of East End civic life," Thiele said.

There were representatives from each of the five East End towns, plus the Shinnecock Nation. Suffolk County was in the house, in the form of representatives from the legislature, the health department, the water authority and the county department of planning. The villages of East Hampton and Quogue participated, as did the Southampton Business Alliance, the Long Island Housing Partnership, the Long Island Wine Council and the Long Island Farm Bureau.

Stony Brook University sent a rep, as did Cornell Cooperative Extension, Brookhaven National Lab, Suffolk Community College, Long Island University, Dowling College, and a handful of local school districts including Montauk, Sag Harbor, Hampton Bays and Riverhead. Environmental organizations on hand included the Group for the East End, North Fork Environmental Council, the Nature Conservancy and Peconic Land Trust. The Southampton Town Civic Coalition was present, as were representatives from the Hampton Bays Civic Association and the Noyac Civic Council. The group Save the College was also represented.

The two lawmakers described the Institute as a think tank on the Stony Brook Southampton campus that would "foster research, education, leadership development, policy development, and dispute resolution on the major policy issues confronting the future of the Peconic Region."

Said LaValle, "The Institute will tackle a broad spectrum of issues including the economy and the environment by bringing together the best minds, the best thinking and research to address the issues confronting the East End."

Participants in the initial outing focused on such set up tasks as determining the group's organization and governance, crafting a mission statement and determining funding.

A 16-member steering committee and three work groups were created to tackle the earliest tasks. According to Thiele, it is envisioned that the Peconic Institute would be created as a tax exempt, not-for-profit corporation which would be governed by a Board of Directors representing a broad cross-section of interests on the East End.

The three work groups will now meet and prepare recommendations over the next 45 days for consideration by the Steering Committee which will review these recommendations and present a final report at another public meeting to be held no later than March. The goal will be to create the Institute in the next six months.

Thiele stated, "The creation of the Institute is a critical part of the efforts of Senator LaValle and myself to restore the Southampton Campus as a center of higher education and economic activity. The Institute is critical to insure that the East End is part of the Long Island region's economic plans. The expansion of the Arts program, the construction of the new Marine Sciences Building, a future Southampton Hospital on campus, and the Institute are all part of a plan to make the campus a burgeoning center of academic excellence and economic activity over the next decade."

kmerrill@indyeastend.com

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