District seeks help for basketball courts

In 1999, community partners joined together to build outdoor basketball courts on Mattituck-Cutchogue school district property on Aldrich Lane in Laurel.

Twenty-two years after the facility’s completion and dedication, the district is again looking to the community to help restore the courts.

“We were looking at the costs of continued maintenance and also hearing from some folks in the community who utilize it, that it really needed an upgrade,” District Superintendent Shawn Petretti said.

Although funding for maintenance has been in the district budget in the past, the estimated $60,000 cost of the overhaul isn’t included in the $44 million 2023-24 budget approved by voters in May.

“This was put in by the community, for the community,” Mr. Petretti said. “It’s on one of our properties that we’re presently not using, it’s off our main campus over on Laurel. So for that reason, we thought it appropriate to go back out to community partners and folks that directly benefit from it. We really feel that it falls out of the scope of responsibility of our community taxpayers.”

Mr. Petretti added he does have someone within the district looking into grants for community-based projects to help reach the goal.

In the past, the courts have been used for fundraisers by various community organizations, individual play and team games. 

Thomas Kelly, the school maintenance crew leader and head of buildings and grounds, said that the repair of the courts — along with upgrading the district’s tennis courts — has been a topic of conversation “over the last couple of years.

“Sometimes these facilities have cracks in them, and they get worse over the winter months, and it gets to a point where you can’t do the repairs anymore. You have to really strip it down and resurface them,” he said.

According to Mr. Kelly, the wear and tear on the basketball courts has become a safety concern and the job requires a full renovation.

“We’re talking about milling the whole court down and resurfacing,” he said. “Some of the backboards — the safety braces on some of them are missing, so it’s replacing the backboards [also].”

There is no set time frame to greenlight the project, according to Mr. Petretti.

“We were hoping to really see what kind of response we get from the community based on the letters that went out. We have begun to get some donations and then will … make another pitch and reach out again to some other folks in the community to get whatever else needs to be done,” he said.

Those looking to contribute can contact Tina Smith in the district’s business office at [email protected] or 631-298-4242, ext. 3501. For anyone who has questions about the project, Mr. Petretti welcomes them to reach out directly at [email protected] or 631-298-4242, ext. 3100. 

“We’re just looking to make it a safer place that the community can go and use those courts,” Mr. Kelly said.