In what is an annual tradition to bring government to the people, about 70 town, county, state and federal officials boarded a special ferry Wednesday for a 90-minute ride to secluded Fishers Island for a Southold Town Board meeting.
With one summertime restaurant, and no hotels or other commercial places to stay, it remains a private oasis of natural beauty for the wealthy. Homes sell for millions of dollars and it boasts one of the best private golf courses in the world.
However, roads still need to be paved, along with other traditional town responsibilities, so every August the Southold Town Board holds its regular monthly meeting on Fishers Island to hear from its residents.
"It's the right thing to do," town board member Vincent Orlando said. "They have their own concerns and issues."
While the atmosphere Wednesday was more of a community picnic with the town board supplying the food -- hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad and corn -- about 30 residents came to express their concerns.
Among the larger issues was the completion of a paving project started last year. Town Supervisor Scott Russell assured the crowd it will start up again after Labor Day.
Resident Charles Kadushin asked the board to help with what he called a "serious coyote problem" where cats are being killed. Another resident asked for restoration of the Department of Motor Vehicle's mobile unit to the island once a year.
Volunteer emergency services personnel stationed on the island talked about the need for online classrooms for training purposes, since it takes 140 hours to complete the training, and regular commutes to Long Island for classes require 2 1/2 hours and two ferries -- one to New London, Conn., the other from there to Orient.
Art Walsh and Fran Roethgen said they came to hear their neighbors' concerns. "It's the only time we see the town board in session," Walsh said.
"We found out a lot of important issues," said Assemb. Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham). "Like any public meeting, I wish it were better attended."
The town does station some personnel on Fishers Island. The highway department has two staffers there, and a human resources employee deals with senior citizen and other issues. New York State troopers serve as law enforcement from April to November.
Some residents said they were grateful the town board came to them. "The geography makes it difficult," said Peter Brinckerhoff, a 35-year resident who drove Russell around the island to survey the roads.
At the end of the meeting, there was applause. A rarity at a town board meeting.