The Martha’s Vineyard Regional School District is moving ahead with its lawsuit against the Oak Bluffs planning board, asking a judge to overturn the board’s denial of an artificial turf playing field on the high school campus.

The district filed a motion for summary judgment with the state Land Court last month, requesting the court make a ruling on the case without having to go to trial.

In a 26-page memorandum accompanying its motion, the school district claims that the town of Oak Bluffs has no jurisdiction over the fields under the Dover Amendment, a state law that among other things exempts school land used for “educational purposes” from local zoning restrictions. 

Martha's Vineyard Regional High School committee member Kris O’Brien gave a brief update on the case at the committee’s meeting Monday. Oak Bluffs has until mid-February to oppose the committee’s request. It’s not clear when the two sides will make their case to a judge.

“The time frame for that has not yet been determined,” Ms. O’Brien said.

The hotly-debated synthetic field, part of a larger overhaul of the high school’s athletic grounds, has divided Islanders since it was first proposed in 2016 by a nonprofit group of Vineyard parents.

A marathon Martha’s Vineyard Commission hearing in the summer of 2021 drew some 15 hours of testimony for and against the controversial use of man-made materials, before the MVC voted 10-6 to approve it as a development of regional impact.

Public hearings in Oak Bluffs began the following February and lasted until May, with debate growing acrimonious at times.

The special permit application ultimately failed when the planning board voted 2-2, an unbreakable tie because the board’s fifth member, a professional landscaper, recused himself throughout the hearing process.

The planning board deadlock was soon followed by a 5-4 school committee vote to appeal the permit denial, setting the lawsuit in motion.

Among other business Monday, the committee extended universal free admission to high school sporting events through the end of the current academic year, and agreed to begin developing an event-admission policy at next month’s meeting.

Future seasons may see free admission only for students, who recently received scannable identification cards, principal Sara Dingledy said.

Also Monday, the committee heard about the impacts of last weekend’s cold snap and high winds, which toppled an air-handling mechanism on the high school roof and froze pipes inside that then leaked as they defrosted.

“A large number of people were in here cleaning the better part of the day on Sunday, mopping, cleaning,” said facilities subcommittee chair Mike Watts.

Deploying an arsenal of squeegees, vacuums, fans and dehumidifiers, staffers got the school dried out by Monday morning.

The school’s building trades class also recently confronted the unforeseen, but in a good way.

On a recent trip to Cottle’s lumberyard, the classmates found themselves accepting about $15,000 worth of brand-new, boxed power tools, hand tools and protective gear, finance manager Suzanne Cioffi told the committee Monday.

“They had no idea. They just went over there to get supplies for the wood shop,” she said.

Eddie Cottle of Cottle’s and Mark Martino of Milwaukee Tools donated the goods, Ms. Cioffi said