MVC continues high school fields written decision

Changes made to language related to energy and health and safety.

The Martha's Vineyard Commission continued its deliberations on a written decision pertaining to a new sports complex at MVRHS.

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday continued their written decision discussion on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School athletic fields after making several changes and additions.

Commissioner Ben Robinson suggested noting under the energy section of the written decision that language be added acknowledging the fact that certain elements of the project will introduce embodied carbon emissions.

“It should be noted that the choice of synthetic materials and the associated components as well as the fieldhouse hold a certain amount of embodied carbon emissions which diminish the value of the benefits stated above,” Robinson said.

Although Robinson recognized the energy benefits of adopting a new LED lighting system and other elements of the project, he stressed that adding new material to the campus that contains embodied carbon is a detriment that should be noted.

Commissioner Fred Hancock disagreed with Robinson, and said that he thinks the information in the decision is a good representation of what was discussed during the MVCs deliberation.

“I know Ben has other feelings about this,” Hancock said.

Commission chair Joan Malkin reminded the group that they are not strictly limited to what was discussed during deliberation, and are only limited to what the public record reflects.

Commissioner Doug Sederholm said there isn’t a project that the MVC reviews that doesn’t involve some form of embodied carbon, and he worries that nitpicking could lead the group down a rabbit hole.

Robinson made a motion to add the language, which passed 7-6.

Another change added language specifying that, with respect to safety and health, the commission finds that the project may have a detrimental impact due to potential contaminants related to the synthetic field.

The original language in the document stated that the project “would” have a detrimental impact due to contaminants (not potential contaminants).

Commissioner Ted Rosbeck said he is concerned that using words like “may” and “potential” are editorializing on the issue of potential impacts from chemicals like per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Rosbeck suggested that the project would have a neutral impact on safety and health.

Development of Regional Impact coordinator Alex Elvin said the reports from environmental consultants did conclude there were potential contaminants, but did not have enough information to draw conclusions related to leaching and the impact on the watershed.

Commissioner Jeff Agnoli said the synthetic field is proven to contain PFAS, and the matter saw conflicting testimony as to whether or not it would affect health and safety.

“There was quite a bit of testimony that there are a very small number of PFAS that are being adequately tested for. I think the slightly detrimental is appropriate,” Agnoli said.

The motion to alter the language passed 9-4.

The commission continued the written decision to a future meeting.