Sprinting toward a Mattituck track replacement vote

12/20/2012 3:43 PM |

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Mattituck High School track team members (from left) Anna Goerler, Tracy Grim and Caitlin Penny could only use their deteriorated home track for practice.

After years of pushing off a decision on what to do with the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District’s aging cinder track, the school could be poised to hold a referendum on replacing the surface as soon as next fall.

District business administrator Michael Engelhardt, who discussed a $650,000 project during the Dec. 13 school board meeting, said bonding the expense over 20 years would cost homeowners an average of $8 to $10 a year.

Mr. Engelhardt said it would likely take about three months to prepare an environmental impact statement for the project and the district would probably need to spend $15,000 to $20,000 before the vote to cover architect and legal expenses. The vote would then need to be advertised 45 days in advance.

Superintendent Jim McKenna said it has been the district’s policy to not hold bond votes in conjunction with the May budget vote, which would likely push the track vote back to the fall.

Many school board members said they believe it’s time to let the public weigh in on the proposal, although Douglas Cooper questioned the wisdom of putting the project up to a vote given the weak economy.

“I’ve been on the board 15 years, and every time it’s not the right time,” countered board president Jerry Diffley. “At some point we have to put it up to a vote.”

“Let’s do it. Let’s put it out to voters,” said Ms. school board member Janique Nine, who reminded board members that the referendum would need to be approved by a 60 percent majority.

Parent Jeanine Warns urged the board to act quickly, citing the benefits of sports to students. She also told them she and her friends would get the word out in support of the vote.

Mr. Diffley said the board would try to meet with an architect in January.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story  said “Board member Janique Nine suggested developing an in-depth replacement proposal for the track, which would need to have an all-weather surface to be competitive with nearby districts and would include bleachers and a fence to keep other student athletes from walking on the track in their cleats.” After the story was published, she called to say she believed there was some confusion and that she did not say that. We’ve edited the story to reflect her concerns. — Grant Parpan, Executive Editor