As late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno’s legacy remains uncertain after the release of the Louis Freeh report Thursday, so does the effort to honor him by renaming Park Avenue to Paterno Way.
The push began when Tony Ricciardi, program director and radio personality for 93.7 The Bus, started an online petition in January, after Paterno died from lung cancer. About 7,000 people from around the country signed on with their support, after the coach’s dismissal in the wake of child sexual abuse charges against his former assistant, Jerry Sandusky.
Park Avenue travels through State College and College Township, and municipal
officials and staff met several times to determine a course of action. The borough’s policy requires a public hearing on street name changes.
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The last meeting was in June, and officials anticipate another meeting soon to determine whether to continue pursuing the change.
“This is still in a wait-and-see status,” said College Township Council Chairman David Fryer.
Fryer, Borough Council President Don Hahn and other officials last month agreed it was premature to plan a fall public hearing on the issue and that they should wait a month and continue following developments in the Sandusky case, according to Hahn.
“That was the last time we met on this subject,” he said.
Since then, Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 45 charges related to sexual abuse of young boys, and the Freeh report was released, concluding that Paterno and top university administrators failed to protect children from Sandusky.
The report also states that Paterno knew of the 1998 criminal investigation into allegations of abuse involving Sandusky, stating Paterno followed it closely “but failed to take any action, even though Sandusky had been a key member of his coaching staff for almost 30 years, and had an office just steps away from Mr. Paterno’s.”
Ricciardi said “it’s still too soon,” to discuss the issue.
Fryer said, based on the Freeh report’s conclusions, he doesn’t anticipate moving ahead with the renaming.
“At this point in time, I am not very optimistic this issue will advance to a public hearing, let alone renaming the street, due to the report,” he said. “I would imagine we will meet within the next month and decide to press on or drop the issue.”
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter