The Yale Urban Design Workshop was commissioned by the Fishers Island Community Board to develop a plan that could identify and address the pressing concerns of this unusual island community. Fishers Island is part of Southold, New York, on the north fork of Long Island, but is geographically remote from it in most ways - connected instead primarily to New London, Connecticut. It has no on-island government or government services, and its population is split between year round residents who live and work on the island, and “summer people,” wealthy residents who traditionally brought their family to summer on the Island.
The greatest challenge facing Fishers Island today is the continuing loss of its year round community. This community provides the critical capacity to keep the Island running and contributes to the Island’s authenticity as a place. It is an important part of the character of life on Fishers, and without it the Island would revert to nothing more than a private resort.
The second major challenge facing the Island community is to create a system of local, accountable and autonomous management, capable of coordinating the roles of various private Island institutions, which have historically operated in individual silos. To truly address stabilizing and, indeed, increasing the population of the Island, a structure capable of providing a framework that will attract and retain population, while controlling costs of basic services and negotiating the sometimes conflicting goals of various Island constituencies, is required.
The YUDW proposed three strategies to address population loss and Island management. The first is for the Island to incorporate as the Village of Fishers Island and establish an on-Island government with a professional staff capable of managing the Island’s infrastructure, coordinating policy decisions, and recruiting and supporting year round residents. The second is supporting the needs of current and future year round residents through the establishment of a pedestrian friendly, transit oriented, west end village in the former fort area of the Island around the ferry landing, tying together modest new affordable housing, commercial space, the school, community center, and transit, with the spectacular Island landscape, and leveraging the nascent artists community developing in the area. The final strategy is to make targeted improvements to infrastructure most needed to support year round residency, but also benefiting all Islanders – improving ferry service, utilities, and telecommunications infrastructure.
Read the report here: Sustaining Fishers Island: A Blueprint for Protecting its Future.