In its draft athletic-use policy, the Mattituck Park District’s attempt to add fees for nonresident teams and leagues drew questions from some audience members at a Thursday night meeting.
At issue is the district’s proposal to charge resident for-profit groups $5 per player per year, nonresident, nonprofit groups $5 per team member per season, and nonresident, for-profit groups $7 per member per season.
Park district commissioner Charles Zaloom explained that the draft athletic use policy would allow the district to make better use of the fields, including a maintenance rotation schedule, in addition to user fees to help defray taxpayer costs. The increased use of fields on Aldrich Lane by soccer and lacrosse groups have made it necessary to better regulate field use, according to Zaloom.
Frank Polistena, who runs North Side-Out Beach Volleyball and recently lost his bid for park district commissioner, said he felt residents were interested in getting more services from the park district in general. Polistena’s league has had issues with scheduling issues with the park district in the past and has encouraged the development of additional beach volleyball courts.
Another fee targeted at volleyball special events was questioned by North Fork Beach Volleyball’s Kathy Ryan.
“Why do special events on weekends require an additional fee? Do soccer teams have to pay for weekend events?” Ryan asked.
Zaloom explained that the beaches have a dual use in the summer and the beaches have to be accessible to residents who wish to swim there. The soccer fields are used only used for athletics and will not be required to pay an additional fee, he said.
The use form also required visitors to pay a $15 guest permit charge to park in the parking lot for special events. Polistena said he thought tax payer money defrayed the costs of running the district’s athletic fields and questioned why the additional fees were necessary.
“I wonder if the district is trying to make a profit with the accumulated fees or if the money is for some project in the future,” Polistena said.
Park District Clerk Lydia Tortora explained the parking fee was not new and that the volleyball leagues can get a permit from the Southold Town for players to park outside the entrance.
Zaloom said the park district was trying to reduce the burden on the Mattituck and Laurel taxpayers. He added that the park district does not have the same tax base as the school district, which includes Cutchogue residents as well. The park district defines resident teams as being made up of at least 40 percent of district residents. Assigning the costs to non-resident users is a way to alleviate the strain on the taxpayers, according to Zaloom.
“Our goal is to drive taxes down and organize and make better use of our athletic fields,” Zaloom said.
The district is seeking email comments on the draft proposal prior to its Jan. 2 work session and requested comments be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.