Mattituck school board seeks public input on track proposal

03/06/2012 1:00 PM |

BOB LIEPA FILE PHOTO | Kaylee Bergen, right, and Sara Paparatto, left, ran for Mattituck in the 3,000 meters last year during a dual meet against Babylon at Westhampton Beach High School. Pretty soon the team may have a new track to run on at the high school.

The Mattituck school board is looking for more input before a possible vote on spending about $650,000 to update the aging track at Mattituck High School.

At its March 15 meeting, the board will hear a presentation from business administrator Michael Engelhardt on the cost of floating a bond to bring the track up to modern standards, and will receive feedback from the public on whether the work should be done at all, said board members said at their Feb. 29 work session.

“There’s been no commitment. We’re in an exploratory phase and we want to do what the community wants us to do,” said school board president Jerry Diffley.

The school’s outdated cinder track has made it difficult to encourage other track teams to compete in Mattituck, and the Mattituck’s track teams participate primarily in away meets.

School athletic director Gregg Wormuth told the board he has received two proposals to resurface the track with a modern all-weather surface: one from Landtek Group of Amityville and another from Laser Industries of Ridge.

Mr. Wormuth told the board Feb. 29 that while Laser Industries’ proposal would cost $650,000 — $30,000 more than Landtek’s — it included more necessities, including drainage, fencing and consulting services.

“The soft costs we would normally have to pick up are included in Laser Industries’ proposal,” he said.

Mr. Wormuth said Shelter Island 10K organizer John Strode has offered to make Mattituck’s track a beneficiary of the race, which is held in mid-June.

Mr. Wormuth said the proceeds from the Shelter Island race could be as high as $100,000, but the district would still need to find another way to pay the additional $550,000 needed to revamp the track.

The school has had limited success with past fundraising efforts, when a group formed to solicit funding for the track from the public raised just $12,000.

“The majority of the people in this district, I can’t see going for a half a million dollar bond,” said board member Jeff Smith.

Superintendent James McKenna said it’s too late to float a referendum to be held at the same time as this May’s school budget vote. Other board members suggested possibly holding a special meeting to gauge the community’s support for the proposal.

Board member Douglas Cooper said he was skeptical of the special meeting proposal.

”The supporters will come and those who don’t want it won’t,” he said. “It’s the wrong time in the economy.”

Mr. Cooper recommended the school revisit a proposal it received several years ago from Walter Gatz of Gatz Landscaping to cover the track with a blacktop coating that would then be rubberized. That proposal estimated the cost at roughly $240,000, said Mr. Wormuth.

“This has been talked about since before I was on the board,” said board member Janique Nine. “It has to be the community’s choice. If they say no, thank you, then we have an answer.”

The board will continue the discussion at its March 15 meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

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