New track plan gets rolling

Grass vs. turf likely to resurface.

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The facilities subcommittee of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee met with its owner’s project manager (OPM) this week, the first concrete step in an ongoing attempt to construct a new track and field at the Island’s high school.

Daedalus Projects was selected from about 18 potential candidates last month as the OPM provider, and Joe Sullivan will be the company’s manager for the project. MVRHS, its facilities subcommittee, and the Daedalus OPM team will now begin work to select an evaluation and design team, finalize its plan, and then hire a construction company to build the track and field facility.

According to a timeline provided by Sullivan, selection of a project designer, completion of design schematics and cost estimates could be completed by the end of 2018, and the project completed sometime next spring.

The OPM hire is the first step in a two-year marathon track project, which sputtered and died a year ago over a debate on grass vs. turf. There was dispute and lack of agreement over legal aspects between the high school committee and the nonprofit Field Fund, which proposed funding an all-grass complex.

In anticipation of a funding deal with the Field Fund last year, MVRHS changed its policy to embrace an all-grass campus complex, and will have to revisit the policy if final plans call for use of an artificial surface.

Daedalus will begin advertising next week for a design team, and after the selection process is finished, Daedalus, the designers, and the high school will develop schematics for the project which will also provide information for bidders to provide production cost estimates. Terry Donahue, a founder of MV@Play, a nonprofit group, reminded the group that a substantial amount ($100,000 worth) of design and feasibility work had been done last year under the aegis of MV@Play.

Sullivan was unaware of the baseline design and feasibility work prepared by Gayle Associates, a track designer and builder, but said he would share the findings with the design team.

Several factors complicate the process, discussion on Tuesday indicated. In addition to grass vs. turf, sure to be a hot topic, MVRHS has been lobbying for more than three years for state funds to renovate or build a new high school. Funds for track and field work would be part of that package.

Member Amy Houghton suggested that the two projects be combined under one OPM. “Having a series of OPM ‘one-offs’ isn’t efficient,” she said. Sullivan said the bidders could be asked to prepare a second plan addressing the high school project.

The full MVRHS school committee will discuss the grass vs. turf issue at its next meeting on Sept. 17 at 5 pm, at the high school library meeting room. Sullivan said he would also have results of the design vendor search at that time.

In other news, members went back and forth on a request by facilities director Mike Gaus for a new dump truck ($65,000) to replace an aging vehicle with a rewelded plow and significant undercarriage rusting as a result of salt and sand spraying in winter weather.

Suggestions included contracting with a plowing company or leasing a dump truck. The snow-removal protocol currently involves a seven-member facilities crew working with the dump truck, snowblowers, and shovels for three hours to complete the task, Gaus said after the meeting.

His concern, shared by several members, is that if a contractor is unable to respond, school would be unable to open. The matter will be looked at again on Sept. 17.

Finally, MVRHS finance director Mark Friedman provided a first look at capital project planning for the 2019–20 budget. The cost of currently planned projects included no surprises, and is within the range of past spending.