Athletic Field Plans Call for Expansion at the High School


Two diamonds each for baseball and softball and four soccer-sized athletic fields is what athletic director Paul Harrison envisions at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School.

At a meeting last week of the school's land use subcommittee, Mr. Harrison presented an initial layout for his proposal. He said it could become a reality in five years.

"This is terrific," committee member Ralph Friedman said, looking over the plans.

Because fall team sports share what is known as the football field, the constant wear has caused severe damage to the grass. In particular, there is a long line of bare soil running up and down the middle.

"I want to bring the football field back by planting grass," said Kevin Carr, the high school's building and grounds supervisor. "A root system needs a year to get established. [Otherwise] any money spent to bring it back is kind of like you're throwing money away.

"There is a need to develop new fields," he confirmed.

At 100 yards by 70 yards, four of the athletic fields would be able to accommodate soccer, which requires the largest playing surface of any high school sport.

Mr. Carr said he would like to see one field created in time for next year's season. A field oriented north-south could be placed adjacent to the existing baseball and softball diamonds in about one month's time, he said. But creation of additional grounds would require clearing of the woods.

Mr. Carr said the current sprinkler system for the football and field hockey turf could handle watering an additional field.

Having additional fields would allow for ideal maintance of all. Fields could be set aside for one year to allow grass to return, even as play continued uninterrupted on other fields.

Additional fields also would make the Vineyard a more attractive site for interscholastic competition. Mr. Harrison seeks a league affiliation for many of the high school's athletic teams, and the ability to play multiple games simultaneously would allow schools to bring several squads to the Island and still return home at a reasonable hour.

For students, the extra fields would mean more time to practice, more competition and safer conditions. "Go to the school on any sunny Wednesday afternoon and you will see most of the students out on the fields," Mr. Carr said.

Expanded facilities also would provide the Island's feeder programs with a site at which to prepare Vineyard children for high school level sports

Varsity baseball coach Doug Hoehn said he would welcome the addition. Having just one baseball field on the Island, he said, is a strain on his program. There is no freshman team, and the junior and senior varsities have to vie for practice time.

Coach Hoehn estimates the cost of a new field at $150,000. He said the level of support for another baseball diamond will aid in raising money for the project.

The land-use subcommittee is expected to discuss the project further at its next meeting, the date for which has not yet been set.