A controversial plan to revamp the high school playing fields using artificial turf is on hold after a community group unveiled a detailed counter proposal this week to upgrade the fields using all grass instead.

The five-page plan outlined by Vineyarders for Grass Fields was presented to the high school district committee at its meeting Monday night. Among other things, the group is offering to underwrite the cost of a new track and infield, upgrade all the playing fields on Martha’s Vineyard, buy new equipment and establish an endowed fund to pay for a permanent superintendent.

“We are really committed to this, we are completely on to do this,” said Mollie Doyle, who appeared before the committee Monday along with Rebekah Thompson and Dardanella Slavin.

The new plan potentially represents a significant shift in direction for the high school committee, which has already signed a license agreement with the community group MV@Play to overhaul the playing fields using some artificial turf, including the track infield. That plan has sparked wide-ranging debate in the Vineyard community and was under review by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. A public hearing scheduled for May 11 will now be postponed.

Instead, the high school committee has scheduled a meeting for the same day at 5 p.m. in the school library to discuss the next steps in the process, given the new plan on the table. Among the items to be discussed is the status of the license agreement with MV@Play, which includes an opt-out clause.

School committee chairman Robert Lionette (left), and superintendent Matthew D'Andrea. — Mark Lovewell

In a statement issued Tuesday morning, leaders at MV@Play said they would immediately step aside to allow full vetting of the new grass fields proposal.

“We came together for one purpose — to restore the track and deliver a usable field inside the track to the high school and its student athletes,” MV@Play president David Wallis said in the statement. “Nonetheless this proposal . . . . could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our kids and the community.”

The grass fields proposal outlines a detailed plan to upgrade, reseed, install irrigation and maintain playing fields around the Island. According to the plan, the group hired Jerad Minnick, a grass expert, to assess all the playing fields on the Island. The total initial cost estimate to upgrade 12 fields, including labor and equipment, is $1.18 million. A separate estimate for the track is still pending, according to the plan. The plan would eventually involve some kind of contribution from the school budgets; the amount has not yet been determined.

Speaking to the Gazette later by telephone, Ms. Thompson said ideas had been germinating among members of the group for some time, and finally came together about two weeks ago. “Since the get-go we have been wanting to not just obstruct and have been looking for ways to help,” she said. “We’ve been bringing in experts but we didn’t want to present anything half baked. We wanted to get a solid plan together that was financially viable and made sense.”

She said the catalyst came at a meeting of the high school facilities subcommittee last month that members of the grass fields group attended. There was discussion about the track, which the team can no longer use due to its deteriorated condition, and the urgent need to rebuild it before the 2018 spring sports season. “Then they started talking about the fields across the street, and how terrible the conditions are all around,” Ms. Thompson recalled. “We went back and had this moment where we realized that what we really needed was a much broader plan. It all kind of crystallized.”

She said the group’s grass expert Mr. Minnick spent a day on the Island visiting many of the playing fields on the Island, taking soil samples, meeting with the high school facilities manager and others. “He listened and assessed,” Ms. Thompson said. “He went to West Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, the Boys & Girls Club in Edgartown, Veterans park in Vineyard Haven. He was so enthusiastic and positive. He said we have perfect soil here. He said none of our fields are overused, but they are all under maintained.” She continued: “I said, based on what we’ve seen if we raised a few million dollars could we fix it? He said I don’t know if I could spend a million of your dollars. He gave us the hope and reality that grass can definitely work here and it’s not going to break the bank. It does require some soil testing and thoughtful execution. That’s when we decided to create an endowed position, a new job.”

She said the group plans to form a new entity called Grass for Life. A fund has already been set up with the Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard, and Ms. Thompson said the group already has donors lined up who intend to give money if the plan is approved. “Donors appreciate the [Permanent] Endowment too because it has an additional level of oversight,” she said.

The total fundraising goal for the group is roughly $5 million, including the track and an endowment fund. Overall estimates for the MV@Play plan are much higher. Working with Gale Associates of Weymouth, the group had proposed a three-phase project to develop a modern athletic complex at the high school to serve the whole Island. Phase one, estimated to cost $3.5 million, called for replacing and reconfiguring the track and field, using plastic turf and plant-based infill.

There are many details yet to flesh out with the Grass for Life group plan, and numerous hurdles to clear with the high school committee and also possibly the MVC. A more formal presentation of the plan is expected at the meeting May 11, Ms. Thompson said. And she expressed gratitude to the leaders at MV@Play for their willingness to step back while the new plan is vetted. Among other things, the turf group has also offered to share its designs for the new track from Gale Associates. “That’s a gift — so generous and we really appreciate it,” she said.

In a phone conversation with the Gazette mid-week, David Wallis, president of MV@Play, said the two groups share an obvious common goal, and he praised the idea of a broad plan that reaches beyond the high school playing fields. “That’s an exciting thing,” he said, adding: “We’re not going away, but we are not going to stand in their way. We will allow them time to bring their ideas to fruition.”

On Monday night school committee members received the new plan with cautious optimism.

Committee chairman Robert Lionette called it “exciting and nerve wracking,” stressing the need for community involvement given heated opinions on both sides of the issue.

Committee member Theresa Manning agreed. “Many members of our community are very concerned about the turf project, but we weren’t presented with a feasible alternative [until now],” she said.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Vineyard schools superintendent Matthew D’Andrea struck a conciliatory note. “We appreciate the gesture of partnership that MV@Play has made,” he said.