Grass can’t be only answer

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To the Editor:

I just read the letter to the editor from the Field Fund (“Grass fields are the way to play,” Nov. 19) in last week’s MV Times. I was pleased to hear that the Field Fund agrees that the existing high school fields are in deplorable condition.

This was determined at the April 2017 meeting held at the superintendent’s office. My notes from that meeting stated that MV@Play was withdrawing from the project and the Field Fund accepted responsibility to build a new track complex with a grass field inside the new track.

Your exact words were, “The Field Fund has a plan, the funds, and will take over the project.” It is now 1½ years later, and nothing has changed. The negotiations between the Field Fund and the MVRHS broke down because the Field Fund required an agreement to keep the high school fields grass for a minimum of 10 years. This is a restriction being placed on public property by a private entity. Their lawyers advised the MVRHS that they could not legally enter into a contract with this wording.

We now find ourselves at a turning point. We either rebuild the fields or fail in our responsibilities to our kids.

I have approached Rebekah Thomson of the Field Fund on three occasions, asking her if the Field Fund will compromise on their position of only using grass, and been turned down three times.

I understand she is committed to grass fields, but the numbers compiled by the athletic director, Mark McCarthy, prove that grass fields alone cannot work. The high school has only six athletic fields for all sports. The maximum amount of usage a grass field can handle per year is 250. A use is one practice or game, which equates to 1,500 uses; in 2016 the fields incurred 2,250 uses, or 50 percent more wear than they can handle.

It was these facts that led myself and many others to conclude a combination of synthetic and grass fields are required. A synthetic field can handle 750-plus uses, and is playable in all weather conditions without damage to the surface. This, along with the 1,250 uses from the five remaining grass fields, equals 2,000 uses, not enough, but a good start, especially if the heavy-impact sports, football, lacrosse, and soccer, were played on the synthetic turf field.

I remember reading a quote during the Irish peace process. A group had come from South Africa to help with the negotiations. When they spoke to one of the individuals the response was, “I will not talk with that person,” the South Africans’ reply was, “That is exactly whom you have to talk with, your friends already agree with you.”

I am asking the Field Fund to look at the scientific facts of this issue, not just the emotion.

I again make the offer, allow the required synthetic turf at the high school needed to handle the loads, and I will actively work with you to improve the remaining grass fields on the Island.

Our kids need us to do this.

 

Terry Donahue

Edgartown