The Huntington Kiwanis Club will be examining how it handles future races after complaints that Saturday’s fundraising 10k run surprised and inconvenienced many Huntington residents.
Barry Turk, past president of the club, said two factors, a minor car accident that delayed the start of the race, and the discovery that the original course was a little short of official race requirements, added some confusion to the day’s otherwise-successful event.
Numerous people complained that they were trapped in their neighborhoods without sufficient warning as the race wound across several major roads leading into and out of Huntington village. Others cited the timing and course of the race that preceded the start of ’s homecoming activities.
Huntington school board trustee Jennifer Hebert wrote, “The race is a great idea and raises money for a worthy cause. But did it really need to be planned for the same day as SD 3's Homecoming? The fact that the town would close the exact road that our high school is on (Oakwood), as well as many of the roads that our community travels to get to high school, shows a complete disrespect and disregard for our school district."
Turk said the details of the race had been discussed with police and others since June.
“We put signs up and I personally went to all the churches and spoke to them, fielded questions about the race,” Turk said. “I’m sure some people were inconvenienced and we’re terribly, terribly sorry about that. It was meant to raise funds for kids and we’re sorry it inconvenienced some.”
Next year will be different, Turk said. “I heard a few complaints and got a few emails from irate citizens,” he said. For an event this large, “You have to do it in a way that doesn’t interfere with others,” he said. “In the future, if there’s a homecoming that day, we will not do both.”
The race, which attracted 460 runners and walkers, will help fund Kiwanis programs that provide holiday shopping trips for disadvantaged children, support the , a Thanksgiving program at the and send children to Kamp Kiwanis in upstate New York. Turk said the race was also the start of a six-week series of events involving the Field of Honor program which places American flags on the lawn of Town Hall.
Turk said the race was scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. so it would be over before homecoming activities started. But the fender bender delayed the start, Turk said. And the starting point had to be pushed east from to near Park Avenue and Main Street after an expert hired to approve the race discovered that the original course was 385 yards short of requirements.
“We had wonderful feedback about the race that it was as good or better than the Cow Harbor race. Cow Harbor is the diamond of races. To even be compared is a wonderful thing,” Turk said.
Town spokesman A.J. Carter said organizations sponsoring such events apply to and are granted permission by the Highway Department.
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said, “We are aware of the issues that arose with respect to this race and will be sitting down with the Kiwanis, Suffolk County police and the Town’s Public Safety Department to discuss ways to address these concerns next year. On balance, however, the lasting good these types of races produce – raising money for worthwhile causes – outweighs the problems that can be resolved.”