West Tisbury selectmen agree with turf field MVC referral

West Tisbury selectmen, from left, Richard Knabel, Cynthia Mitchel, Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter and town administrator Jennifer Rand. Photo by Edie Prescott.

West Tisbury selectmen last week voted to refer a proposal by MV@Play to install synthetic turf on a playing field at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) for review as a development of regional impact (DRI) as a discretionary referral, because of concerns with the materials and chemicals used in the installation and maintenance of the artificial field. They join Chilmark selectmen who made a similar vote last week.

Meeting on July 6, selectmen Richard Knabel and Cynthia Mitchell voted for the MVC referral. Selectman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter abstained. Mr. Manter told The Times he felt uncomfortable voting on the motion since he had voted for the synthetic field as a member of the school committee. He declined to comment on whether he supported the review idea.

The vote followed the presentation by a group of concerned citizens of a 26-item list of reasons why a synthetic field should not replace the present grass fields. The list included concerns about nitrogen loading and other chemical contaminants, excessive water runoff, increased traffic due to greater playing field usage, natural habitat issues, and health issues.

There were no representatives of MV@Play present.

In other business, Wendy Nierenberg was approved as a West Tisbury library board member to fill out the term of Margaret Gallagher, who resigned for personal reasons after a short tenure on the board. Ms. Nierenberg’s résumé includes a degree in library science and experience as a librarian and a private school administrator. She is the self-described “brick lady,” managing the sale of paving bricks as a fundraiser for the library.