MVRHS wants Dover ruling on field project

At status hearing, judge seems skeptical he can overlook PFAS concerns.

A high school field project remains on hold while a legal battle continues in Land Court. - Courtesy Huntress

At a status hearing in Massachusetts Land Court in the case of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School v. the Town of Oak Bluffs Planning Board over the planning board’s rejection of a special permit for a synthetic turf field at the high school, it became clear that the MVRHS attorney is hanging the case on the so-called Dover Amendment. The status hearing was held virtually, and The Times obtained a copy of the recording from the court.

The Dover Amendment is a state law that allows properties with an educational component to bypass zoning bylaws for building projects that would typically require town permits.

Brian Winner, the attorney for MVRHS, announced his intent to file for summary judgment as it relates to Dover. Winner’s argument is that if the court rules Dover is in play, then discussion of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), the forever chemicals that prompted the Oak Bluffs planning board decision to not allow a synthetic turf field in the town’s water overlay district, is outside the bounds of what the planning board could consider.

The deadline for the summary judgment motion was set for Jan. 13. Once that’s filed, Michael Goldsmith, who is representing the planning board, will be given 30 days to respond. Once both filings are in, Judge Kevin Smith will set a hearing date.

Goldsmith questioned how PFAS and the potential for contamination could be “teased out” by the court — eliminating the scientific concerns that PFAS may leach into the groundwater and contaminate it.

Smith appeared skeptical about Winner’s motion. “You’re saying under this special permit bylaw, if it doesn’t apply, that the school district could put up — make up a hypothetical — anything that could hurt the groundwater and this court can’t consider that?” Smith asked. “Does that mean the school board can do anything it wants with respect to construction on this field? I’m not sure it goes that way, does it, Mr. Winner?”

Winner said the school district’s argument is that under Dover, the planning board was outside of its jurisdiction in rejecting the special permit based on the water overlay district. He went on to say that the PFAS issue was well vetted with “voluminous materials” before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and that should be considered by the court. “That’s a very high hurdle. They’re very strict,” Winner said of the MVC.

But Goldsmith responded by pointing out that it was a split decision by the MVC. What he didn’t say is that for the first time in the commission’s history, those who opposed the field drafted and then ultimately decided not to provide a minority opinion on the application.

Science about PFAS with relation to synthetic turf fields continues to emerge. Most recently, the City of Boston issued a ban on synthetic turf fields.

Goldsmith said the planning board contends that PFAS will leach off the field into the soil and ultimately into the Island’s sole-source aquifer. “We think the planning board has the legal authority,” he said.

Goldsmith agreed to the summary judgment in the hopes of expediting the process, bearing in mind that taxpayers are footing the bill on both sides of this case. He predicted the case costs will quadruple if it goes to trial.

Smith, also mindful of that, offered a speedy, two-day trial, but both attorneys said they would need time to retain and prepare experts for trial.

During the status hearing, both sides indicated they have gotten discovery from the other, and are satisfied with that process, even though there are a few “loose ends.”


  1. If you care about health….If you care about our water….If you care about students….If you care about our Island…If you care about future generations….if you refuse to be endangered by willfully ignorant, single minded, selfish people it’s time to activate. Write your town Board of Health, Selectpeople…make your voice heard before it’s too late.

    I know this is a strong statement and it’s truthful. Ignoring science, professional athletes(with extensive first hand knowledge) and the examples of places that are banning these fields is egregious.

    If this poison field is installed it’s a death sentence. FULL STOP.

    • There are between 12,000 and 13,000 synthetic turf sports fields in the United States currently, with more than a thousand new installations each year. For you to say this is a poison field and a death sentence is hardly science.

      • andy– and nearly every school and public building in the country had asbestos in it.
        I do not think a single person ever died from mesothelioma until the 20th century, after the widespread introduction of asbestos.
        Since 1999 over 45,000 Americans have died slow agonizing deaths from exposure to asbestos.
        I am not willing to expose future generations to the possible risks of PFAS.
        What we don’t know can certainly hurt us.
        Our forbearers had no idea asbestos or lead or many other chemicals would harm their children. Those of us who are not willfully ignorant know better.
        We don’t know specifically what PFAS will do, but we do know there will be some long term consequences.
        And Susan is correct– Someone will die.

        • How much in the way of fertilizers and herbicides will natural turf require?
          Gas to mow twice a week on season?

        • Listen Donnie, you can have feelings and opinions but it is not science and you yourself tell us you dont know, you just think.

          • andy– that’s really rich, coming from you.
            I said “we” don’t know exactly–The “we” is the collective consciousness of the scientific community.
            We don’t know, for example where the next drought , flood or hurricane will strike– but we do know that they will. And we do know that they will be made worse by climate change.
            We knew hurricane Nicole was going to make landfall near your Florida penthouse. What we didn’t know was that god was going to answer your prayer from your well built penthouse, but wasn’t going to answer the prayers of people who were in less structurally sound houses.
            And while we are talking about what we know, let me remind you that on March 11 2020, you “THOUGHT” that the U.S. would never get close to 1,000 deaths from covid. Unfortunately for you, you presented that thought as a fact.
            I KNEW we would— I never expected more than a million deaths from Covid, but I was basing my assertion on facts– you were basing yours on willfully ignorant “thoughts”
            Any more questions ?

      • Andy, milions and millions of housing units were built using asbestos.
        Billions and billions of tax dollars have been spent removing it.
        $700,000,000 should cover the cost of replacing the 13, 000 fields we the people do not want.
        Science says that PFAS is poisonous.
        What do engineers think?

    • please give examples on this “egregious death sentence”. One example of a turf field causing someone to die. One proven example

      • No one has claimed anyone has died from these chemicals, but;
        That’s what they said about smoking until the 1960’s.
        About testing nuclear weapons in the Nevada desert until the 1970’s
        About commercial nuclear reactors until april 26 1986.
        About asbestos.
        PFAS are currently at low enough levels as to not cause serious health problems or death, but every year the concentration of them gets higher.
        Once the levels get high enough to do so, how do we remediate it ?
        I have never had a heart attack or diabetes. Should I conclude I never will and take up smoking and eat bacon cheeseburgers with fries and milkshakes every day?

        • Please read the comments more closely, death is exactly what people are claiming. Also, where is there any evidence fields are causing health problems? How is it that every athlete across the country isn’t coming down with cancer from this?? It’s junk. I am in no way in favor of causing health problems, but you have zero evidence this field would cause that, it’s all hearsay

          • Keller is an alarmist. He is certain that things will happen because they have in the past so for him this is ”science”. Yet he completely ignores alarms in the past that did not happen inspite of years long hysterics.

          • Andy– You often liken my opinions to those of religion.
            So when is that “second coming” going to happen ?
            Which one of us is more certain that our unfounded non scientific beliefs will happen ?

            As far as things I have noted in the past, We did something about acid rain, we did something about the ozone hole,we did something about rivers catching fire, we did something about DDT, we did something about Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba, we negotiated nuclear arms limitations, we did something about COVID, and we did something about #45.
            Perhaps, just perhaps, we have not had a nuclear power plant melt down in the U.S because we have decommissioned 42 old and unsafe reactors before they melted. And again. I am NOT totally opposed to generating electricity through nuclear fission.
            Every day I step on the brakes of my car to avoid running into things. Avoiding catastrophe is just common sense.

  2. So did the OB voters approve these legal fees? This lengthy trial with experts (whose credentials hopefully will be scrutinized this time) will be costly and outcome could be contested yet again. Perhaps the voters would settle for some green grass and spend money on affordable housing rather than plastic fields? It really is time to move on. I am an accountant for law firms – the one thing I can tell you is that this is going to be expensive.

  3. This case may be the biggest and most consequential failure of the MVC and its mission.
    “The Martha’s Vineyard Commission Act, Chapter 831 of the Acts of 1977 – officially An Act Further Regulating the Protection of Land and Waters of the Island of Martha’s Vineyard – was adopted on December 21, 1977, outlining the Commission’s planning and regulatory functions.”
    MVRHS sports teams and coaches continue to win and achieve on neglected fields. Meanwhile the MVRHS School commitee refuses to stop this appeal in land court and consider a reasonable plan to rehab and maintain these fields .
    Many Island schools have embraced natural fields, all while keeping a close eye on nitrogen & water consumption, thanks to the Field Fund , it’s donors and volunteers. This suit in Land Court to install 2+ acres of unnecessary plastic that could contaminate our water supply, is a waste of time and money , not to mention the precedent this case could make for other Dover requests against our fragile environment . Calls globally for reduction of waste and use of fossil fuel products is front page news as is the rejection of plastic turf by athletes .
    Those of us lucky enough to live here are inherently stewards of this land . Those elected to public office or paid by taxpayer dollars are held to an even higher expectation of stewardship . Where does you’re school commitee representative stand ?
    Does our entitlements have no limits ?

  4. MVRHS attorney Mr. Winner “went on to say that the PFAS issue was well vetted with ‘voluminous materials’ before the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and that should be considered by the court. ‘That’s a very high hurdle. They’re very strict,’ Winner said of the MVC.”

    A few points about that:

    1. The MVC never considered the fact that the proposed plastic field is sited within a specially designated Water Resource Protection Overlay District.

    2. The MVC decision acknowledges that the proposed plastic field poses a threat to island water. “…The project as a whole will impact Water Quality by introducing microplastics, and potentially other contaminants, into the environment despite the Applicant’s offers to mitigate.” And “With respect to Safety and Health, the project may introduce potential contaminants associated with the synthetic field. Extensive laboratory testing and and analysis by TetraTech and Horsley Witten on behalf of the MVC concluded that the synthetic field poses a de minimis risk in terms of direct human contact, but that the effects of leaching over time are uncertain. Supplemental tests known as the Total Oxidizable Precursor Assay (TOPA) and Total Organoflourine Analysis (TOF) found that other PFAS compounds beyond those that are currently regulated are likely present in the synthetic products, but it is uncertain how those compounds may affect water quality over time, since there are currently no standardized methods for that type of testing.”

    3. The MVC closed its written record on May 3, 2021, over 1.5 years ago. New information regarding PFAS toxicity, contamination, testing, and regulation emerges daily. Is the MVRHS attorney arguing that none of that should be considered?—Apr-21-2022

  5. While the PFAS are an important consideration here, let’s not forget a few other things.

    At all levels of play , from the pee wee leagues to the NFL, more injuries occur to all parts of the body on artificial turf. The school board is setting themselves up to have the pants sued off of them ( at taxpayer expense) every time there is an injury. There are an ample number of studies that clearly indicate artificial turf is more dangerous and will result in more injuries. The fact that the committee knows this at this time will allow future lawyers to walk over any argument they may present claiming ignorance. They are willfully ignoring the facts, and it will bite them (us) hard in the future.

    This is 1/2 million pounds of synthetic material that cannot be feasibly recycled. To date as far as I can tell, there are only 2 plants in the world that fully “recycle” this stuff, at extraordinary costs. One is in Denmark, one recently opened in Germany.

    How does this fit into our “plan” to be fossil fuel free in the next 18 years ?

    Its manufacturing and transportation carbon footprint is extraordinary.

    It will only last ten years at best, at which point another environmental castaphrophie will have to be made and transported here.

    There will no doubt be endless litigation and arguments about replacing it when the time comes, and what to really do with the old field.

    After 10 years all life under the plastic will be smothered and extinguished. it will be nearly impossible or at the very least, VERY expensive to bring it back to a healthy condition. Forget the forever chemicals, this area of ground will be turned in a barren lifeless landscape for decades to come.

    This is truly a slap in the face to every person on this island who has any sense of environmental integrity.
    I will tell you now– I will stand in front of the bulldozers to the point of being arrested if this goes through. I will likely have some company.
    I hope the committee factors that into their cost analysis.

    • Don Keller, I guarantee you’ll have my company!

      I’m further astounded that some members of the school committee are sending the message to the community at large as well as all the students that they believe it’s perfectly acceptable to find ways around permits and governmental rules. They are thumbing their noses at Oak Bluffs, their host town. Great civics lesson for our future generation. NOT!

      • Susan–
        That comment really means a lot to me. Thank you.
        My mother was an activist– she was the impetus to planting hundreds of trees in her town, keeping a Walmart out, and literally stood in front of a bulldozer to keep an exit from being built that would have dropped traffic from rt. 295 into her neighborhood.
        I do not fully understand how she managed to stop a federal highway project there, but she was not alone when she did that.

    • Once again unfounded hysterics just like our planet is done. Keller knows this but he doesn’t know it specifically. It feels like it might be true but he has no facts or science that claim that the field after ten years will be barren and lifeless. Science obviously tells Donnie that the people playing on the existing 13000 fields will be sick and some die in the future. He feels it so passionately that he will stand in front of the bulldozer that scoops up the field.

      • Andy– So you think that if you cover 2 acres of a field with a 3 inch thick rubber and plastic membrane for 10 years, that when it gets rolled up, there will be nice healthy grass waiting to be mowed ?
        I don’t need a scientific study to tell me the obvious.
        And, actually, science does tell us that pfas are toxic to all life. Would you drink a glass of water that was a 500,000 parts per million ( 50% in case you can’t do the math).
        And without getting into what is scientifically unprovable, you think that praying saved your penthouse from a hurricane less than a month ago.
        You seem to think that no one will get sick from dangerous chemicals if they pray hard enough. And if they do get sick, prayer will cure them– as long as they are praying to the correct god, and do it with enough passion.

    • is that the only way to make your voice heard? So only people with enough spare time can have opinions?

    • A portion of the problem here is that the HS committee members are not directly elected – they are appointees of the school committees in each town. In the case of the Up-island district, the HS rep is designated as the highest vote-getter on the Up-island committee. So, there is NO direct representation and therefore no way for voters to ensure who will land on the HS committee. Truly bizarre. And only changeable by reworking the HS regional agreement (requiring unanimous approval of 6 towns and then the state approval).

      But as Susan points out, even if it were direct, that’s not going to help at the moment.

  6. Look up what they are supposed to be able
    To do and not do. When you read it you will understand you are wrong. This is a personal Bias by the chairman of the planning board. He has been trying to tip the scales to his side for years on this. He is the reason we will be paying all these legal fees. Not the HS. The HS is trying to do it the right way. And they are changing the rules as they go along to stop

  7. In 1987 the MVC petitioned the EPA and satisfied the criteria for drinking water protections for the entire Island. At that time the public comments were unanimously in favor of these protections. What has happened to this protective sentiment since you and I went to high school here? What is the driving force for entitlement? At one time Islanders were asking for more regulations, not less!
    I don’t think you can blame the current OB planning board chairman for upholding the bylaws of the office he and others were elected to , specifically in regards to protecting our drinking water for island residents and visitors. I encourage you and anyone else to read the summary in the link below. I appreciate your involvement to make MVRHS a better place for our children, but I really disagree that a plastic turf will do this .

    In regards to Dover:
    People all over Massachusettes are trying to Amend the Dover Amendment, due to its missue and abuse. The MVRHS administration has no vote in this matter, only the school commitee 5-4 majority were able to keep this lawsuit alive.

    “Amend Dover is campaigning for a clarification to the Massachusetts state law — the so-called Dover Amendment— that would make it clear that nonprofits seeking to build in local communities are not exempt from local wetlands bylaws or natural resource protections.
    ​These institutions should be held to the same environmental and conservation laws as any residential or commercial user would.
    ​Clarifying the Dover Amendment is a small step to protect MA municipalities from development that conflicts with local environmental bylaws.”

  8. Bias and disingeouse. First, Cape Cod, Long Island, most of NJ are sole source aquifers. Here is a map of the many thousands of areas that are sole source aquifers in the US. There are hundreds, if not thousands of turf fields in these sole source aquifers.

    Second, the history of Dover. The law was created to stop the runaround that some politicians and groups such as “grass turf” type groups that pursue their own agendas.

    Third, I do agree with you, yes agree with you, if it is reasonably shown to be probable that the turf fields do cause material impacts (scientifically and NOT bs) to our water supply, then another solution needs to be developed. However, I have yet to see your opinions supported. MVY is one on thousands of communities that this is an issue for……sole source aquifers and have turf fields. Facts/Truths/Science please please please

    • I’m am not comparing MV to New Jersey or New York or Cape Cod. I was born here on MV and choose to live here , despite the challenges we face living here. I will do without some things they have off island . I am personally concerned with the state of our planet as it degrades under human consumption and consequential pollution. This is not about 1 turf, it’s much more than that. This turf is low hanging fruit for things we don’t need. Our schools are a reflection of the community and best practices and more importantly our youth , who are the future . Ask any young person about the state of our planet . Many of them focusing on college to figure this debacle of fossil fuels , conservation , food needs and financial independence as the global population swells and needs become infinite .
      So we’re do we draw the line? This project is my line . I have no vote and no influence, I am only allowed to express myself here and at public meetings, hoping to sway someone with the power and enough influence to stand against this and create a plan to fix our athletic fields. My town of residents has two votes , that is all I have to work with. But I will continue to refuse plastic and contaminates in my daily life to encourage by way of example. Fixing what is wrong with our natural environment is a group project – we can only do it together .

  9. There is zero proof anything you say about contamination is actually true. All you have is potential and possibilities. The simple fact is natural grass and turf both have possible negative issues, you trade one for another. Mass Maritime (the college…) has a turf field not 30 yards from the river…..please tell me why this Maritime environmental school can justify two turf fields on the river….the simple fact is there is no proof of any actual detriment to humans.

    • Zeke– First, a river is moving. They could dump a thousand gallons of used motor oil in that river every day and it would not affect the maritime academy at all. —
      I know this quote was a little before your time, but it addresses your comment accurately.

      “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.”
      It was penned by Stephen Stills and made famous in the song called “for what it’s worth”, by the band “Buffalo Springfield”

      It still applies to a lot of things in today’s world. And for the old folks here, it’s just a great song.
      I hadn’t heard it in years– enjoy !

      • Not before my time and your comment is not plausible. And how do you pick and choose what’s environmentally friendly and what’s not? You don’t have actual scientific evidence the field will cause ANY health problems. There is “some” talk from pro sports players denouncing turf, but it is not a widespread feeling. And what type of field is never discussed either. The opponents of the field have drummed up every possible issue there could ever be, without any actual fact of it ever happening.

        • Zeke– There are plenty of reasons to not have a turf field.—you just don’t want to hear it–
          I’m not all that concerned about the PFAS for the foreseeable future, and doubt we will have any mass causality events.
          But here is what we do know.
          We know that PFAS are toxic to life.
          They never break down.
          The level of PFAS in the environment is continuing to go up.
          You cannot guarantee that the levels will not get to a point where they do cause problems.
          You cannot guarantee that these do not harm wildlife. — including insects.
          You say I don’t have any proof that this will adversely affect living organisms.
          You don’t have actual scientific evidence the field will NEVER cause ANY health problems. They are highly toxic chemicals after all.
          As I said before, forget the PFAS. The increased injury rates of our young athletes, the lack of an acceptable means of disposal, the environmental impact of making the stuff, and the cost are enough for me to say no.
          What is the advantage ?

          • It’s a pick and choose your poison, chemicals come with both applications. You need massive amounts of fertilizer to properly care for a grass field. There’s no evidence of health issues, as proven by the abundance of turf all over the country. Your issues have been safely addressed multiple times. I don’t want to hear it because it’s just obstructionism. This injury issue is a particular type of turf, not the one we will use. It’s all been said, you are ignoring what you want to

  10. It still baffles me that individuals who are against the turf site scientific studies that they scoured the Google for, but, they ignore the actual science that was done on these particular materials, and the testimony provided by the independent companies hired to do the testing. To a person, every expert who did the work on the testing on THESE materials have stated a few things: 1. The PFAS found during testing are far below the allowable standards set for PFAS. 2. The PFAS found is inert, meaning, it won’t migrate into the water table. 3. There is PFAS currently in the soils everywhere, and they are likely not the inert kind and they could end up in the water table, where the PFAS found in the field has been determined that it won’t so replacing the current soil with a turf would actually be better for the environment. The “experts” who testified against this project provided no such scientific evidence of testing they did on the materials used in this project to support their claims. 4. Stop siting injury data, you are not correct. You can’t just read one study and make a determination, that is not how research works. If you research the Google you can find any study to support your opinion. I’ll give you an example: Recently the NFL had an independent agency study the injury rates of NFL players on grass vs turf and found that they are statistically the same. But, if you listen to the players their OPINION is that it is not. Again, that is opinion, not fact. The injury studies are inconclusive regarding this topic thus no objective determination can be made. Lastly, I can tell you that players in the NFL would not want to play on a high school grass field that is used by several teams and is worn down and torn up over the period of a season. They would like the NFL owners, who have unlimited money and resources, i.e. sod farms and can replace the grass mid-season if needed, to grass their stadiums. They do not want to play on high schools with limited budgets and resources. That is why high schools and colleges for that matter have gone to turf. In addition, games like field hockey and lacrosse are all played on turf fields at the higher levels. Athletes in these sport, who play on grass, are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to being competitive, not only if they wish to advance in their sport but also against other high schools who play on turf, btw, all MIAA tournament championships are played on turf.

    Finally, regarding the process. Let me pose a scenario for you: You own a business and you believe that a town board has incorrectly ruled against you, do you not have the right to appeal that decision? This is what the school is doing, nothing more that the average person would do if they were in the same situation. Look at what has been happening with the MVC recently. The school, and the supporters of the project, believe that the planning board over stepped their bounds and they want to make sure that they didn’t. Remember, it was a 2-2 vote whether to approve the special permit. There seems to be grounds for appeal.

    But, it is unlikely I have swayed anyone, most people have their minds made up on this topic. Now it is up to the system to determine the outcome. Thanks for listening.

    • Thank you, this issue has been rehashed over way too many years. And opponents have not come up with anything viable to stop this other then a biased committee chairman who was opposed from the jump

      • Ok Don, Do you want to know how many times the opposition has sited the UH article here? It seems to be the go to, however, it is missing some important information i.e. how many teams play on turf vs grass.

        Try this one that I had referenced.

        But here is one that you requested and there are others.

        Incidence, Mechanisms, and Severity of Game-Related College Football Injuries on FieldTurf Versus Natural Grass A 3-Year Prospective Study Michael C. Meyers, PhD, FACSM*.

        Here is a synopsis for you.

        Results In sum, 465 collegiate games were evaluated for game-related football injuries sustained on FieldTurf or natural grass during 3 seasons. Overall, 230 team games (49.5%) were played on FieldTurf versus 235 team games (50.5%) played on natural grass. A total of 2253 injuries were documented, with 1050 (46.6%) occurring during play on FieldTurf, and 1203 (53.4%) on natural grass. Multivariate analysis per 10 team games indicated significantly lower total injury incidence rates, F(3, 2249) = 3.468, P = .016, n – β = 0.778, on FieldTurf, 45.7 (95% confidence interval [CI], 44.2–46.3), versus natural grass, 51.2 (95% CI, 49.8–51.7). Significantly lower minor injury incidence rates, 38.0 (95% CI, 36.9–38.5) versus 39.9 (95% CI, 39.1–40.0, P = .001), substantial injury incidence rates, 5.0 (95% CI, 4.3–5.6) versus 7.2 (95% CI, 6.6–7.7, P = .020), and severe injury incidence rates, 2.7 (95% CI, 2.1–3.3) versus 4.1 (95% CI, 3.5–4.1; P = .049), were documented on FieldTurf versus natural grass, respectively. Multivariate analyses also indicated significantly less trauma on FieldTurf when comparing injury time loss, injury situation, grade of injury, injuries under various field conditions, and temperature. No significant differences in head, knee, or shoulder trauma were observed between playing surfaces.
        Conclusion FieldTurf is in many cases safer than natural grass. It must be reiterated, however, that the findings of this study may be generalizable to only this level of competition. Because this study is still in the early stages, investigation is ongoing.

        Note: investigation is ongoing. As I said, there is no clear objective determination.

        Now to quote one of the studies you referenced, “Artificial Turf vs. Natural Grass: An Ongoing Debate”

        Natural grass fields are not free from problems either. There are studies which demonstrate that playing on a grass surface that is not well maintained may also increase injury rates.

        This issue has become particularly important in cold-weather climate areas such as Green Bay, Minnesota, New England, and New York. In these areas the weather can take a heavy toll on the fields, making them dangerous, despite the best efforts of ground crews.

        Furthermore, many of the professional stadiums are high traffic arenas where high school and college teams may play in addition to concerts, car shows, and other events. These circumstances virtually preclude the maintenance of a natural grass field within safe limits.

        If you hadn’t noticed we live in New England. As I said previously, you can do a Google search and find any article to say what you want it to say. Be well.

        • Thank you Mr. Cleary. Keller has finally met his match on documented research and yours overwhelms his. Keller asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false or a proposition is false because it has not yet been proven true. ”argumentum ad ignorantiam” in Latin.

  11. I can say that I know of three high school coaches at two cape high schools who absolutely dred coming to the Vineyard for games. One football coach had a star player fracture his ankle in a “pothole”…. Done for the season including Super Bowl appearance in Boston. A Lacrosse coach called our field a “cow pasture”and had two players suffer similar leg injuries. All three coaches said these injurires probably would not have happened on artiicial turf venues and they would prefer to play on neutral fields or not play MVRHS at all ……. Sad! .

      • Susan, can I ask you this? How many times this year have you walked the high school fields? How many games have been played on the high school fields this past spring and fall? Have you seen the maintenance records for the high school field over, let’s say, the past two years to back up your statement? Your statement is unfounded and outright wrong. The issue isn’t lack of maintenance and never has been, it is overuse, no maintenance can overcome overuse, especially in a cold weather climate. BTW, the game field, is where 2 football teams, boys and girl varsity soccer, and boys and girls jv and varsity lacrosse play their games, it is the least used field square field on campus, only games are played and practice sessions are limited and it receives the most maintenance. We know you are against the project but please don’t make things up, especially when it comes to what you think a grass high school field can handle.

        • Patrick, thanks for your questions. I hope I can clarify. Actually since I live close to the high school I go by the school multiple times each week. And both my husband and I often walk or ride our bikes around there. So I see what’s going on often. Successful grass fields are a combination of maintenance and use. This aspect has been the subject of discussion often over the past few years.

          I don’t have access to internal department records so cannot answer to that. I will add that if you spend time around and behind the high school the amount of sporting equipment that’s left outdoors to rust and be damaged is awful. Supply sheds are left wide open. Nothing is put away.
          The old saying rings true…if you can’t take care of what you already have why should you get more or newer. The reason this is of concern is the care required for artificial turf. Dig into it a bit and you’ll see there are strict maintenance rules to be followed, if violated the warranty is negated. Rules include special training/certification for maintenance people, particular pre and post use procedures and numerous chemicals to disinfectant the carpet. It’s a lot…and we are not doing what should be done now!

          • Susan, so you ride around the field so you know all about it’s maintenance. Interesting. Believe me when I say, I know more about this project and what the maintenance requirements will be and they are significantly lower than that required of a grass field, and at a significantly lower cost. Just read the provided documentation and you’d know too. So you have no idea what the school does for field maintenance but you assert they don’t do anything. Please.

          • Susan–You hit a point that i was just about to delve into.
            Thank you for bringing it up.
            A quick 10 minute look tells me there is a lot here.
            For instance, it seems the tried and true method of using lime ( which grass likes) to mark borders, yard lines etc, does not work for a synthetic field. Those markers have to be painted on. Yes– paint.. I wonder if the school has that machine– But good news– there are products available for big bucks to dissolve this paint and specialized equipment — I wonder if the school has that equipment –to suck this paint and whatever chemical dissolves it for disposal at some facility somewhere. — Hopefully, in somebody else’s backyard. Or perhaps they could keep it all in house and just pour it down the drain at the school. ALL GONE !
            No problem with that I guess.
            So to the people who downplay any possible negative consequences of putting PFAS into our grandchildren’s environment, do you have any problem with paint thinner and whatever dissolves that paint ( think fingernail polish remover ) into our current water supply ? Any regard for any of “gods creatures”?
            I will be looking into what those disinfectants are that Susan talks about. I encourage anyone to look it up for themselves and share it here.
            A synthetic turf will absolutely need disinfectants, as the players will spit, blow their noses with “snot rockets” and bleed, as well as leaving behind parts of their skin as they slide on the field. A petri dish of such a combination of biological matter would be cleaned up overnight by billions of organisms on the surface of the field working in conjunction with billions of other organisms in the soil on a natural field.
            On a synthetic field however, that “snot rocket” ejected from the nose of a player or phlegm coughed out of a hard working players lungs on Monday will still be there on Wednesday unless the “disinfector” has come by.
            Someone asked about the gas to mow twice a week- in the winter–
            How much gas will be required to disinfect twice a week ?
            Or do we think it’s fine for our children to slide around on the spit and snot rackets of the last 3 day’s players ?
            And let’s not even talk about poop from birds or any other animal that happens to wander on the field.
            Nature takes care of that for free on a grass field–
            Why run the equivalent of a Zamboni every other day ?– and that’s if you don’t mind having your face rubbed into yesterday’s snot rocket or last night’s skunk poop.

  12. Patrick– you make some good points, and I was more than happy to read your entire post.
    But let me note that your report about NFL injury rates, while narrowing, are still higher on turf. These are professional athletes. Let me also note that the article says turf fields are replaced every 2 to 3 years. Why is that ? If they replaced them every 8 to 10 years would the rate go higher ? Is the Vineyard going to replace the field every 2 or 3 years ?
    I of course have no “scientific” evidence to support it, but a reasonable person COULD reasonably project that the injury rate will increase with the age of the field.
    Also your link, while informative did not reference the full study, and only focused on lower extremity injuries.
    You also bring up the excellent point that we live in a cold climate (for now ;).
    It is true that a grass field will deteriorate significantly in the winter, but what happens on a turf field at below freezing temperatures? Does something as simple as an overnight frost make the field less usable ? It would be logical to assume the turf field would be harder at 40 degrees than at 60– not so with the grass field. I could find no studies that look sub or near freezing temperatures into account while assessing injury rates.
    What about at the other extreme? Lest say we have an 80 degree day in Sept– not unheard of– we know the temperature of the turf field will be significantly warmer than the natural field . Is there a greater risk of heat exhaustion ?
    So, Patrick– I have to say that I really do appreciate you taking the time do your research, rather than just claim I am an hysterical alarmist and present no information to back up your opinions. I am particularly pleased the focus has shifted away from the far off possibility of issues with the PFAS and perhaps can shift to the immediate safety issues with the players.
    This is what a reasonable debate should sound like–

    Thank you.

    • Don, thanks for you considerate post. A few things to consider. The turf industry has been improving their products, thus the reason for the often turf replacements. In addition, not all turfs are the same. So if we approach this conversation discussing the actual situation we have here on MV we may be able to make some progress. First, the turf that will be installed here is not the same turf that the NFL plays on. Not all turfs are the same. The NFL chooses to play on a harder surface because they want the field to be fast so the game is faster.

      The turf here will have a padding underneath the field to protect the players by softening the ground and decreasing body to ground injuries. The study I referenced in my previous post stated, “No significant differences in head, knee, or shoulder trauma were observed between playing surfaces.” The padding used here will decrease that incidence of injury. The choice of surfaces and subsurfaces in the school’s case will be softer, and yes, likely a little slower.

      Related to your heat question, if you look at the information in the materials provided by the school you will see that the use of the Brock Fill is not the same as the crumb rubber. Most of the heat related issues brought up, again by those who oppose the project, refer to crumb rubber where heat is an issue. Brock fill, which is 100% organic, measured 33 degrees cooler than crumb rubber and in our moisture filled atmosphere it will likely be even cooler. In addition, the high school teams typically don’t play in the heat of the day, practices and games are after 2:00 PM and are in the fall and spring. Preseason the practice in the morning or the early evening. The school has to have a heat mediation plan in place as a condition by the MVC.

      Cold, believe me, if the temperatures get low enough for the turf to freeze a grass field will already be frozen solid and hard as a rock. Where an overnight frost can affect grass, ask any golf course superintendent, a turf field will not freeze in an overnight frost. The high school starts playing spring sports in March, the ground has yet to have thawed before the teams start using the field, thus, creating more damage to the grass.

      Lastly, if you look at the Baltimore Ravens website you will see that their owner, who responded to the request to go grass, has purchased to sod farms in North Carolina to replace their grass mid-season if needed. They had stopped allowing the State high school football championships to be played on their field because of the overuse that would occur. Many grass fields in the NFL have similar resources, including a multi-million dollar budget to maintain their grass fields. I think you and I will agree, that the school will not have the same resources. A turf field will be safer for our athletes, will there be injuries, yes, but they already sustain injuries, but will there be more, likely not. The high school field looks great now, from the road, but walk on it after this fall season of games. There are ruts and divots created by both football and soccer that are unavoidable, and without a full time staff of several groundskeepers, and a significant budget, the school will have difficulty recovering from just this one season’s play, and before you know it, lacrosse will be on there in March. The issue here is overuse, plain and simple. Thanks

  13. Don and Suzanne, you’re not even close. The only disinfectant, if any, is alcohol, no chemicals, again, as listed by the MVC. Next, lime hasn’t been used to line fields in decades. Water soluble field paint is what is currently used. Lastly, the lines in the turf Don are permanently tufted into the turf, no paint needed or removal of paint. No paint thinner. Please stop the hysterics, you’re smarter than that. The maintenance of a turf field is periodic brushing with a brush provided with the installation, as well as, a maintenance plan and training. At most $5,000.00-$10,000 dollars per year and that’s on the high side. All this was provided to the MVC in testimony, look it up.

    • Patrick- thank you for schooling me on this point. My information was outdated.
      I yield the point.

      But I have to say, it will take a lot to convince me that a plastic field is a better idea than a grass one.

    • Patrick I must respectfully disagree. The meeting I attended which the turf representatives spoke at was very clear about chemical use, maintenance including that which is necessary to maintain the warranty. One thing they must do, particularly in warm weather is solvents, no one mentioned paint thinner, to prevent a virulent infection named Mercer from taking hold and growing. I know this for sure as I was the person who asked about it after reading infection rates after athletes received scrapes during games.

  14. Susan, I know your stance, no matter what is proven or said, you are not for the field project as is. I get that, that is your right and I appreciate that, but please stay with the facts and science. You are very emotional about this project, we have seen that at every meeting and read your posts, but not everyone agrees with you and it is unlikely you or I are going to convince anyone to change their stance. However…in response to your last post.

    The field doesn’t need to be disinfected regularly because it is outside. Like grass doesn’t need to be disinfected. No school does that. For any bodily fluid spills, the MVC said the school can only use alcohol, which is all that is needed. Schools do bi-annual maintenance to include cleaning, repairs and grooming, which I mentioned earlier as part of the maintenance plan. No solvents. I have first hand experience here, as someone who is schooled in medicine.

    Scrapes during games can be cleaned with soap and water, hydrogen peroxide or wound cleaner, that is not something you would put on a field. Because it is outside, ultraviolet light kills most bacteria, MRSA included. MRSA, not Mercer, according to the CDC, can be prevented by maintaining good hand and body hygiene. Clean hands often, and clean your body regularly, especially after exercise. Keep cuts, scrapes, and wounds clean and covered until healed. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors. Get care early if you think you might have an infection. Turf fields aren’t mentioned in how to contract the disease, it’s mostly hospitals and indoor activities. Again from the CDC, MRSA is usually spread in the community by contact with infected people or things that are carrying the bacteria. This includes through contact with a contaminated wound or by sharing personal items, such as towels or razors, that have touched infected skin. This is unlikely to happen on a turf field because sunlight and exposure to UV light kills MRSA and the likelihood of an athlete’s wound, who has MRSA, will come in direct contact with another player’s open wound or on the turf. It doesn’t stay on the field for days. BTW, this is also how it works on grass fields as well, they are no different. Not to mention that our athletes won’t be running around and landing in goose poop that currently adorn our fields. Ask our athletes how they like landing in goose poop. The geese won’t congregate on a turf field, stopping that problem.

    We know you are against this project, fine, but not everyone is and the ones using the field are very much for it. Thanks

  15. Patrick your stance is obvious as well. I make no apologies for mine. It’s interesting how some men label women “emotional” when strong convictions are involved. I will not engage with you on this again.

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