Fields are about the future


To the Editor:

Many people have asked me why MV@Play, the project to improve and expand the athletic fields at the high school, is so important to me. The simple answer is that it matters, will make a difference, and needs to get done now. This Island community deserves a place where all ages can play safe, healthy, organized sports together. It’s time we commit ourselves to creating that place now.

Our high school track will no longer be certified for use by the state athletic association. Growth across all sports has stressed our fields to a breaking point. Youth soccer alone has grown to over 400 kids, and is still growing, not to mention the summer and adult leagues. While the many benefits of participating in organized sports have been realized, our space and upkeep have not.

More important, I have come to understand that while this Island is a very special place, it also can paralyze itself into doing nothing. Sadly, this can fracture great causes. Let me address what appears to be the singular fracturing issue of this project — the use of natural grass versus synthetic turf. The truth is we need both types of fields to achieve success. MV@Play is dedicated to providing a healthy recreational environment that withstands the demands of organized sports on the Island today and into the future.

Time is actually our worst enemy. We must complete Phase 1 of the soon-to-be condemned track and field this fall. The field inside the track will have organic infill with synthetic turf in order to meet the projected heavy volume of play, rain or shine. (Synthetic turf can handle 500 to 750 events per year, natural grass a maximum of 250 events per year.) Other future fields in this project will include natural grass.

Our biggest challenge is raising the $3.5 million necessary to get this entirely privately funded project done on time so that the track does not shut down and new fields are created. The time to band together is now. We are thrilled that the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Committee voted to support Phase 1, and organizations like MV United Soccer have endorsed our project. The support across all organized sports underscores the benefit of working together to reach a common goal.

To those who have questions, we welcome your input. This is about creating fields of play for all ages that are healthy, safe, and easily accessible for everyone, but it’s far more important than that. It could and should be a place where youth, parents, and adults can meet, mentor, grow, and serve the community. This can and should be a place for all to enjoy, at all levels and all ages.

David Wallis
President, MV@Play
Vineyard Haven