Joe Schroeder was a happy man last week. The longtime Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School coach will have a track for his squad to compete on next spring.
The Boston Globe 2017 Male Track Coach of the Year was celebrating the decision last week by the MVRHS school committee to resurface the track, which has been unusable for the past two seasons, forcing the track team to compete only at away meets.
“We took a step in the right direction last week,” he told The Times. “Hopefully we’re on the way to a completely upgraded athletic facility.”
Work was scheduled to begin Thursday on resurfacing the track, which will put the oval in play in two weeks.
The MVRHS School Committee voted unanimously last Thursday to proceed with the estimated $148,400 project. The Cape and Islands Tennis and Track company in Pocasset will perform the work. The project involves removing the current surface, disposing of the old material, and replacing it with a polyurethane surface.
The hourlong approval meeting included a conference call with the vendor and supportive comment from the public, an MVRHS student, and the nine-member school committee.
The approval process unfolded rapidly last week, and follows a meeting of a facilities subcommittee earlier, at which it was learned that Cape and Islands Tennis and Track had materials and open dates due to a cancellation by another client.
As a result of that news, the MVRHS school committee then moved up its Oct. 26 meeting to move on the subcommittee recommendation.
MVRHS has about $80,000 in athletic department funds on hand and available for the work. “We will find the remaining funds from the current school budget,” MVRHS school committee chairman Kris O’Brien pledged on Friday, an assertion confirmed this week by Schools Superintendent Matt D’Andrea
Friday’s action is the latest development in an ongoing and often dramatic two-year effort to rehabilitate the entire MVRHS athletic complex, beginning with rehab of the track.
Most recently, MVRHS and the Field Fund, an ad hoc group which has raised several million dollars to rehab playing fields, have been in talks this summer to refurbish the complex as an all-grass facility.
The talks broke down late last month after the Aug. 25 school committee meeting at which Mr. D’Andrea said the school is required to ask for state legislation to enable MVRHS to guarantee the Field Fund condition for an all-grass athletic complex. The legislative process could take up to a year.
Ms. O’Brien said on Friday that the school still hopes to reach agreement with the Field Fund, founded by Island residents Rebekah Thomson, Mollie Doyle, and Dardanella Slavin. “They have been incredibly generous, and have worked hard to accomplish so much in a short period of time, and we are grateful for their work,” Ms. O’Brien said.
This week, Ms. Thomson reiterated her group’s resolve to continue with the project, citing a Sept. 10 email to MVRHS and Mr. D’Andrea, which included a proposal that is still on the table, unaffected by the track-resurfacing project underway.
Ms. Thomson said this week that the Field Fund plan would require quick agreement, as early as Oct. 1, in order to complete the work in time for the 2018 spring track season.
For a brand-new track and infield to be completed by 2018, the Field Fund and the school would need a signed contract between them, and another signed contract with Shadley Associates, which would perform environmental testing and design phases with an eye to beginning the construction bidding early in January, according to an earlier Field Fund statement.
The Field Fund currently has projects underway to do work on playing fields in Oak Bluffs, Mr. Thomson said this week.
There were indications this week that the MVRHS team was working on the Field Fund proposals, but details were not available at presstime.