Message from Superintendent Stoller

The following email and pdf document was received today from Chris Soller. The time for participating in the “Visioning Project” has been extended to January 15, 2010. FIA members and others who care about Fire Island’s future are encouraged to click on visionfireisland.com and participate, if you have not already done so.

Jerry:

As we have discussed, I know there have been concerns and questions raised
regarding the Fire Island Community Character/Visioning Project.  Attached
is a letter I have written that I hope will lay to rest a number of
questions and concerns raised regarding the project.  We are also extending
the deadline to participate in the project to January 15, 2010.  I hope
that you and the others members of the Fire Island Association Board of
Directors and Fire Island Community Association leaders would distribute
this letter to your members and members of the various community
associations.  Hopefully it will reinforce our desire to work with the Fire
Island communities and to engage Fire Islanders in the issues that we are
all involved with now and in the future.

Jerry, I would like to thank you and all the Board of Directors for your
continued support.  Over the next year, as the National Seashore presents
the draft alternatives on the General Management Plan, refines the
alternatives and presents a preferred alternative for public review and
comment, the participation of the FIA and the Communities in this dialogue
will be extremely valuable.  We look forward to your continued involvement
in this process.  Again, many thanks.

Chris Soller
Superintendent
Fire Island National Seashore
National Park Service

December 8, 2009
Dear Fire Islander:

In October a letter went out over my signature encouraging people to participate in the “Fire Island Community Character/Visioning Project.” This is a project the National Seashore is undertaking with A. Nelessen Associates as part of our General Management Planning process. This on-line visual preference exercise has generated a great deal of discussion by many individuals who have already completed it. It has also prompted a number of questions as to what certain terms mean and how the National Seashore plans to use the project results. I am writing today to respond to some of those concerns and questions.

First, and most importantly, this is a planning exercise that offers everyone the opportunity to provide valuable feedback to the National Seashore. The communities are important elements of Fire Island and their unique qualities contribute to the overall character of the National Seashore. The project is designed to help residents identify the physical characteristics that appeal to them, as well as those aspects that they find unappealing.

There are no right or wrong answers to the questions being asked by the Visioning Project. The Project is meant to capture attitudes and preferences. The National Seashore has no preconceived ideas about what the answers should be. There are no plans to rewrite the Seashore’s zoning regulations in response to project’s results. The information being collected is meant to start a discussion on Fire Island about the physical environment of the Island’s communities. Our goal is to develop strategies that can enhance what everyone likes, or find ways to make improvements or changes where needed.

Additionally the visual preference exercise has used various terms for responses to questions. Words have different meanings to different people and some words have loaded meanings. The words “appropriate” and “inappropriate” are examples of such words and their use in the visual preference exercise has raised concerns by many Fire Islanders. The term “neutral” has also raised questions. In this exercise the term “appropriate” means “likes/does not object to”; the term “inappropriate” means “dislikes/objects to”; and the term “neutral” means that the viewer has no opinion one way or the other or is not concerned about the issue.

Ideally this project would have been done in a workshop setting and people could have asked questions directly of the project manager. Unfortunately due to time constraints of this past summer the project was revised and a decision was made to proceed with the project via the internet. When the results of the visual preference exercise are tabulated there will be a public meeting to present and discuss the findings.

When it is all said and done, there will still be blue and pink houses, bulkheads on the bayside, stores and restaurants, “The Belvedere” and “The Casino”, wild natural landscapes, manicured lawns and designed gardens, “classic” Fire Island beach cottages, modern architecture, and everything in between. The questions are: What are the characteristics of the built environment on Fire Island that are important to Fire Islanders? What do Fire Islanders care about? What are Fire Islanders going to do in the future to ensure that things continue to be cared for, protected, preserved, restored, or possibly changed?

In order to encourage maximum participation, we have extended the Fire Island Community Character Visioning Project deadline to January 15, 2010. For more information and instructions on participating please visit the project website: www.visionfireisland.com. As a part of the project participants will be asked some questions related to resident status, time spent on Fire Island, socioeconomic status, and on attitudes and opinions related to the Island’s natural and built environment. Participation in all aspects of this project is purely voluntary and all responses are anonymous.

Once A. Nelessen Associates have completed their analysis of the project results we will host a public workshop in a convenient location to share the results and get additional feedback on the project. Community participation in this effort is critical to its success. No one knows a place as well as the people who spend time there and are passionate about it.

Thank you in advance for your support in this effort. Please call or email Ellen Carlson, NPS Project Manager, at (617) 223-5048 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

K. Christopher Soller

Superintendent

Fire Island National Seashore