Mercy can continue to use Mattituck sports field

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | McGann-Mercy lacrosse players practicing on the Aldrich Lane field on Thursday

McGann-Mercy High School can still hold lacrosse practices on the Mattituck Park District’s fields on Aldrich Lane in Laurel.

After nearly two hours of debate Thursday night, the Mattituck-Cutchogue school board agreed to support to the Riverhead school’s use of the fields, provided the park district requires McGann-Mercy to include Mattituck-Cutchogue School in its liability insurance policy. The three fields on Aldrich Lane are managed by the park district, but a third of the land belongs to the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District.

The Mattituck Soccer Club recently launched a campaign opposing McGann-Mercy’s use of the fields, citing concern that lacrosse players would damage the grass and could endanger soccer players using an adjacent field at the same time.

Mattituck Soccer Club coach Joe Vasile-Cozzo said he was concerned that Mattituck’s own lacrosse team is playing on an inferior field at Strawberry Fields. Former town councilman Dan Ross, who has also coached soccer, raised questions on permitting a private organization to use public fields. McGann-Mercy is a Catholic school run by the Diocese of Rockville Centre.
In response, Charlie Zaloom, chairman of the park district’s board of commissioners who voted in favor of the McGann-Mercy agreement with the majority in a park district vote last week, said the park district did not receive a request from Mattituck’s lacrosse team to use the fields this year.

The park district’s contract with the Mattituck-Cutchogue school district to manage the land has expired. Park district representatives said the fields are being maintained in accordance with the old agreement. Park commissioners and school board members agree that a new deal needs to be negotiated.

In related news, the district agreed Thursday to put its long-anticipated plan to replace its outdated track on hold due to the economic downturn.

“I’m the biggest proponent of [replacing the track], but I agree,” said School Board President Jerry Diffley.

Park district attorney Eileen Powers, whose daughter is a student at McGann-Mercy, said she found the reason the lacrosse team wants to use the Aldrich Lane fields ironic. The private school’s own lacrosse field is in the center of its track, which Mercy needs to use to host teams like Mattituck that don’t have tracks suitable for competition.

Good grades for school finances
During Thursday’s meeting, district auditor Frank Perry of the Patchogue firm Rizzi, Schwarz & Taraskas gave the school glowing grades for its financial management of purchase orders and payments.

The biannual claims audit showed that just 3.4 percent of the district’s purchase orders were issued after purchases were made. It also reports that 2.7 percent of requests for checks did not include compete information and that just .5 percent of checks issued by the district contained errors.

Mr. Perry said that many districts have some inconsistent purchase orders at the beginning of the school year, when they are racing to get the school ready for students to return.

“Mattituck is near the top,” he said. “The documentation that is in place is top drawer.”

“All in all it’s a pretty clean report,” said Mr. Diffley. “Mr. Perry said we’re better than Southold.”

Labs to be rebuilt
The school district will need to rebuild two chemistry labs after a sump beneath the floors began filling up with water and overflowing.

Board member Douglas Cooper, who serves as liaison to the school’s buildings and grounds committee, said the lab floors were graded incorrectly and that the warranty on the work has expired. The district is currently working up a project cost projection.
Mr. Cooper said that the sump only needs to be pumped out every two years. It was recently pumped but will eventually need to be replaced.

“It’s a summer project for one of these summers,” he said.

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