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Hearing delayed for proposed sports site

For the second time in three months, a public hearing on a controversial Kings Park sports complex proposal has been postponed.

The forum, scheduled for last Thursday, was scrubbed when attorneys for the Town of Smithtown and property owner Anthony Santilli could not agree on whether the plan meets the town's criteria for a permit. A new date for the hearing was not announced.

Santilli, owner of Santilli Commercial Developers, wants to build outdoor soccer fields and baseball diamonds and indoor golf and batting cages on the 44.5-acre site near the intersection of Indian Head Road and Old Northport Road. Santilli has paid nearly half-a-million dollars in state fines in the past four years for illegal dumping and overexcavating on the property.

Town attorney John Zollo told reporters he has "concerns and questions [about] whether the application complies" with town codes governing recreation facilities. Those codes may not permit outdoor fields such as the ones Santilli proposes because they would not be in "a permanent structure."

A scheduled public hearing in February was canceled when Santilli's attorney, Leonard Shore of Commack, said Santilli needed more time to notify neighbors of the hearing.

Thursday's hearing was postponed by the Smithtown town board after members huddled with Shore for 15 minutes in a closed-door executive session. Afterward, Shore told reporters he planned to speak with Zollo "to see if I can influence him to let this application go ahead."

In a separate case, town officials have told a Kings Park youth sports organization that it cannot store defibrillators at a town-owned park.

Kings Park Youth had asked the town for permission to keep the devices, used to treat heart attack victims, at Kings Park Memorial Park, where the organization runs sports leagues for more than 1,000 kids.

But town board members and Zollo said Thursday that the town could be sued if the devices are stolen or vandalized. "Someone could tamper with it overnight," Councilman Edward Wehrheim said.

Town officials suggested coaches take the devices home after games. John McQuaid, a Kings Park Youth trustee, said that was impractical because the league has dozens of coaches. "It makes no sense to have 65 defibrillators," he said.

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