The regional high school committee formally agreed this week to change tack and pursue a plan to upgrade the playing fields using natural grass.

At a meeting on Thursday, the district committee voted unanimously to back a plan by the community group Vineyarders for Grass Fields. A plan by the group MV@Play, which involved a three-phase project to revamp fields using artificial turf, has been postponed indefinitely.

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

The grass fields alternative was unveiled to the school committee last week as a counter proposal, days before a hearing was set to begin at the Martha’s Vineyard Commission on the turf plan. In formal presentation Thursday, spokesman Dardanella Slavin described more fully the plan to upgrade 17 public playing fields on the Island, including the badly deteriorated track and fields at the high school.

The group has set up a fund through the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard to support a comprehensive, organic approach to field management, including equipment, maintenance and training.

The new field plan is projected to cost about $6 million, including a $2 million endowment and $850,000 for material and equipment over five years. Phase one of the MV@Play project, which included a new track and field, was estimated at $3.5 million.

“The preservation of green space on the Island is one of the next big needs,” said Mollie Doyle, a member of the grass fields group. She said potential donors from as far away as New Zealand have already shown support for the project.

The high school fields are a top priority, beginning with the track, which will cost about $2 million, according to the proposal, with a new infield and irrigation system costing about $350,000.

Mollie Doyle, spokesman for grass fields group. — Mark Lovewell

School finance manager Mark Friedman said $286,000 in community preservation funds that were allocated for a new track in 2015 would likely still be available, although it is unclear whether the funds can be used for the infield as well.

The proposed budget includes a $75,000 endowment for a superintendent to look after the fields. The group plans to engage the services of two grass experts: Jerad Minnick of Growing Green Grass and Jeff Carlson of the Vineyard Golf Club.

Ms. Slavin said maintenance will include aeration, fertilization, mowing and overseeding. The proposal is framed as a regional approach to field maintenance, taking into account the need for certain fields to rest during the summer and opportunities for sharing equipment.

The group plans to meet with town boards and others to determine the needs of each field, and in what order to proceed. The idea is to have a network of 17 healthy fields, where sports can rotate from one to another.

“We would love to get the track going and simultaneously address the fields on the other side of the street,” Ms. Doyle said, speaking about the high school facilities. “Because if they are not all healthy together, it’s just not going to work.”

Vineyard schools superintendent Matthew D’Andrea said it could take between two and four weeks to hash out a new license agreement with the new group. The school committee has a signed license agreement with MV@Play but Mr. D’Andrea said the committee could withdraw from that agreement with MV@Play at any time.

When the new plan surfaced last week, leaders at MV@Play said they would step aside to allow the new plan to be vetted. They also offered to share engineering drawings for the track, but a few days later it was revealed that they could not share the drawings because the rights are owned by Gale Associates, the Weymouth engineers who drew the turf plans.

High school athletic director Mark McCarthy (right), school business manager Amy Tierney. — Mark Lovewell

Ms. Doyle said her group is in discussion with Gale about possible use of the plans.

There was discussion about the merits of public versus private bidding for the new project. Committee member Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd said the latter could potentially save money.

But committee chairman Robert Lionette said the new proposal is an opportunity to learn from the past.

“This resonates as a significant distinction as to how we approached the previous plan,” he said, alluding to the private bidding process with MV@Play.

Mr. D’Andrea said private bidding can help avoid higher wages and allow developers a choice of contractor. “So there is some merit to it, to make sure you will get the quality work you want to get,” he said. The committee took no action other than to authorize Mr. D’Andrea to work with Vineyarders for Grass Fields on a new agreement.

The new proposal may require review by the commission.

Committee members on Thursday roundly supported the plan and also acknowledged the efforts of MV@Play.

“We find ourselves at another point of transition, where we have something in front of us that takes that and grows it even further,” Mr. Lionette said.

High school athletic director Mark McCarthy also expressed gratitude for the work accomplished so far, but emphasized the work ahead, including a more detailed maintenance plan.“There is a lot more work that needs to be done,” he said.