Field project puts athletics ahead of environment


To the Editor: 

“The mission of the MVC is twofold: 1. To assist our region’s seven towns (Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Gosnold, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury) with planning expertise; and 2. Protect and enhance the islands’ environment, economy, character, and social fabric.”

I am writing in reaction to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s (MVC) approval of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s (MVRHS) Athletic Fields/ DRI A352-M4. I’m a resident of Martha’s Vineyard, and served on the MVC for six years (2014–20). In this decision the MVC abandoned its mission by approving the project as submitted by the MVRHS. 

The MVRHS’s proposal is flawed, as the proposal places a higher priority on athletics over the environmental impact and long-range harm to the Island’s single-source aquifer and to the climate. The school department’s denial of the risks of climate change sets a terrible example for the students, and violates community values. Given the Island has banned the use of plastic bags and most towns have banned single-serve plastic drinking bottles, how can the MVC justify the installation of a two-acre artificial turf plastic carpet, which is the equivalent to 46 million plastic straws or 3.2 million plastic bags? Also ignored were the scientific studies documenting the toxicity of plastic turf. 

The MVC reviewed a proposal to approve the project with a condition of a grass field instead of plastic. The condition did not carry, as the vote was a tie. The commission then approved the project. This decision was an abdication of the commission’s mission and responsibility to protect the Island from development that can negatively impact its environment and character, and from self-interest that will negatively affect the quality of life on Martha’s Vineyard.

Robert M. Doyle