On May 16, 2016, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School committee voted 5-2 to approve phase one of MV@Play’s proposal, including a new track, artificial turf playing field, bleacher seating for 500 people, and stadium lighting. At the time, there was no user agreement between the school and MV@Play, no estimate regarding the increase in liability insurance, and no realistic numbers for the ongoing costs for artificial field maintenance and carpet replacement. The one thing that was made very clear, however, was that MV@Play will pay for the initial installation costs, but effective day two, MVRHS will assume financial responsibility for all costs associated with the project.

It is important to note that this is only phase one of a three-phase project, intended to be a huge athletic complex described by Gale Associates as the most ambitious project they have designed. It will serve high school athletics, as well as all youth and adult soccer, football and lacrosse, summer camps and other sporting events. In short, the MVRHS committee voted to assume financial responsibility for the upkeep of new facilities designed to host athletic events — more than 50 per cent of which are not related to the high school — with no sense of the long-term cost implications.

While it was fiscally irresponsible for the high school committee to accept this gift and saddle the taxpayers with higher upkeep costs going forward, we hope finance committees will take this decision more seriously. Our taxpayers deserve no less. Unless we have concrete answers to a range of questions, it is impossible to make a responsible judgment.

In light of all the financial uncertainty surrounding this ambitious project, we sincerely hope the towns will do their due diligence.

Anthony Esposito
Vineyard Haven