Press denied access to 'private' meetings

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As part of the Suffolk County News’s ongoing effort to properly and fairly cover the Island Hills development we reached out to the newly formed Rechler advisory committee for access to a community meeting held on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

The following statement was released by the committee in response to our inquiry to attend prior public hearing held on Oct. 2, thus denying our access and reporting:

“The Island Hills Advisory Committee has begun its public outreach process and has invited over 200 community stakeholders to a series of private meetings devoted to each stakeholder group’s mutuality of interests. Thus far, the committee has met with a restaurant owners’ representative and local school officials at True North Community Church. Notably, we have intentionally invited individuals and organizations that were opposed to the original plan for the site to attend our meetings and provide input on the new concept. The Town of Islip is not involved in this process, and given the differences between our process and an official government proceeding, these meetings are not open to the public or press and the identities of those who elect to attend will not be made public. This is done in an effort to create a safe, open, civil and productive dialogue for the sharing of thoughts, questions and opinions that can enhance the proposed new concept for the betterment of the project and the community at large. The committee will submit a final report of the stakeholder meetings to the developer at the conclusion of the meetings. When the developer submits a formal revised application to the Town of Islip, there will be open public municipal hearings on the application. This is an interactive process and the committee expects to send additional invitations as the process unfolds […]”

The comment was signed by the entire The Island Hills Advisory Committee including: Mary Lou Cohalan, Michael Dawidziak, Timothy Dolan, Justin Jaycon, and Frederick Welge.