Mattituck park commissioners to weigh scheduling policy open to non-residents

The candidate who lost his bid to become a Mattituck Park District commissioner in November is seeing his main issue being addressed.

Frank Polistena lost his race to Gerard Goehringer Jr. by a vote of 202 to 105 but he remained determined to push for what he considers a broader policy for who gets to use park district fields.

During his campaign, he promised to reach out to local sports organizations, including non-residents, to resolve scheduling conflicts. Now it appears his issue is being taken up by the three sitting commissioners — Charles Zaloom, Mr. Goehringer and Nicholas Deegan.

On Thursday night, Dec. 8, the three commissioners are inviting the public to comment on what Mr. Zaloom described as a “straw man” policy for field use. The proposal is meant to spur a discussion that will let the commissioners to come up with a final policy that will be in effect for 2012.

“The goal is to begin the 2012 field scheduling and use process with an ‘all teams’ meeting in late January supported by a new field use policy,”  said Mr. Zaloom, who is commission chairman.

The issue for Mr. Polistena has been the allocation of time to teams whose members may not live in the district.

Because state and Southold Town money were used to help pay for improvements at Mattituck’s Aldrich Lane Park, Mr. Polistena argued during his election campaign that the fields should be  accessible to more teams, even if members aren’t district residents.

He  runs an adult beach volleyball league that has sometimes had difficulty getting playing time. He ran for office with to make the district’s facilities more accessible to the various teams that sought field use, he said.

Mr. Polistena said he was concerned the commissioners were moving too fast and failing to give the public enough time to discuss the proposal that hasn’t yet been made public.

The policy should be made public at least three days before the meeting, Mr. Polistena said in a Saturday night telephone interview. He said he was worried that those concerned about field use won’t have enough time to consider the “straw man” draft presented Thursday night.

“That’s the part that doesn’t seem kosher to me,” Mr. Polistena said about not seeing the proposal in advance.

He called for total transparency by commissioners, saying all agendas should be made public at least three days in advance to encourage public involvement in decisions.

Mr. Zaloom said in a telephone interview Saturday night he wasn’t releasing the policy in advance because he wants to explain the context of the proposal to people at the meeting.

“I want to make sure that everybody understands the context first,” he said.

District residents will have several weeks to submit comments to commissioners, who aim to draft a final policy for a vote on or about Jan. 12, 2012.

Thursday night will be “the beginning of the process, not the end,” Mr. Zaloom said. “We’re not going to sit and argue,” he said. “We need to keep it organized.”

The meeting on Thursday will be at the district’s Bailie Beach Lodge, not the usual meeting site at Veterans Memorial Park, and will start at 7 p.m.