Mattituck track won’t get gold stripes or McKenna naming

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08/22/2014 12:00 PM |
The track at Mattituck High School. (Cyndi Murray)

The track at Mattituck High School. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

The color gold will appear on Mattituck-Cutchogue School District’s new track, but it won’t be in the form of stripes. And as for naming the new facility after recently retired superintendent James McKenna, the school board has had a change of heart.

During the board’s meeting Thursday, district business administrator Michael Engelhardt said the colors will now be blue with white stripes because regulations require yellow markings along the track for junior high school runners.

The district had decided the track would be blue with gold stripes, which are the school’s colors. But, Mr. Engelhardt said, the yellow markings would be too hard to see if the stripes were a similar color. Numbers on the track, however, will be gold, he added.

The other change to the track is it won’t be named after Mr. McKenna.

School board member Jeff Smith said he received numerous complaints from residents after the board unanimously approved a resolution to name the track after Mr. McKenna as a way to honor his 25-years of service to the district.

“It was an emotional vote,” Mr. Smith said, referring to the vote taking place on Mr. McKenna’s final day as the district’s superintendent. “Wiser minds prevailed later on.”

Mattituck resident Judy Thilberg, who’s brother-in-law is retired Mattituck coach Jim Underwood, addressed the school board during the public comment portion of the meeting and said she believed the school board should have looked for community feedback before making its decision.

Mr. Underwood, for instance, “worked for the school district for 32 years … He broke his butt trying to get the track,” she said. “A few teachers approached me and said, ‘What a slap in the face to your brother-in-law.’”

Although the board appeared to be in an agreement to name the high school auditorium after Mr. McKenna instead of the track, the board decided to postpone the decision until the next board meeting on Sept. 18 since three board members — Jerry Diffley, Bill Gatz and Sarah Hassildine — were absent from the meeting.

The track is expected to be completed by the start of school.

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