A Mastic civic leader has filed a petition with the New York State Department of Education to cancel a $33.5 million bond referendum to construct a new library, saying the process put part-time “snowbird” residents at a disadvantage for voting.
John Sicignano, president of the Mastic Park Civic Association, also contends Mastic-Moriches-Shirley library director Kerri Rosalia organized nonpublic meetings to advocate for the building, according to the petition filed Monday.
The bonding proposal, to be voted on Feb. 7, would finance most of a $38.5 million facility on the former Links golf course, about a mile south of the current library. The remaining $5 million is to come from the library’s cash reserves. Brookhaven Town, which owns part of the Links site, has agreed to donate the land for the library.
The petition names Rosalia, the library board of trustees and the William Floyd School District’s Board of Education, and it alleges the school district published notice of the referendum on Dec. 21, but absentee ballot applications weren’t made available until Jan. 8.
Library or school district officials “improperly limited the availability of absentee ballot applications” and “this 18 day lapse is critical since many snowbirds leave the area for the winter in the weeks before the applications were available,” according to the petition.
“The petition requests that the Feb. 7 referendum be canceled based on election interference by the library director and other nonresidents,” said Shirley-based attorney Raymond Keenan, president of the Manor Park Civic Assocation, who is representing Sicignano. “The law is clear that library officials cannot advocate for a yes vote on this proposal.”
Keenan added he wants the current referendum rescheduled to coincide with the annual budget vote, set for April 10.
“I find it very sad that some members of the community felt it necessary to resort to legal action to stop something they don’t agree on,” library board president James Mazzarella said in a statement. “We are days away from the vote to provide an unprecedented facility for our community and opportunities for the children and families of our area.”
The petition also seeks an order prohibiting Rosalia from “exhorting individuals to raise money or take other steps in furtherance of the vote yes campaign.”
Rosalia said she never organized a private meeting about the bond. She said she has participated in meeting with Friends of Mastic Moriches Shirley Community Library, a group that supports the new library effort.
“It’s a sad day at the library that this has escalated into a personal attack,” Rosalia said Tuesday. “They are questioning my professional ethics and I’ve operated within the parameters of the law at all times.”
New York State Education law requires the school district to oversee the library vote, officials said.
“This is not a William Floyd School District proposition or project. It is spearheaded entirely by the library board of trustees, library staff and community members of their visioning committees,” school district spokesman James Montalto said in a statement.
He added the school district needed to approve a resolution to hold the referendum at William Floyd High School, which it did on Dec. 12, Montalto said. The absentee ballot applications were put on the school district website on the third business day after the Christmas-New Year’s break and snowstorm, he said.