The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School has submitted an application to remove portions of its athletic facility in Oak Bluffs, taking a step forward in its plans to upgrade its fields while still engaged in a legal battle with the Oak Bluffs planning board.

On Dec. 22, Vineyard public schools superintendent Richard Smith sent the application to the Oak Bluffs building department, requesting to take down the existing bleachers, lights and scoreboard at the varsity field on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. 

“This request is being submitted in preparation for future improvements to our athletic facilities that will include a new 400m running track, athletic field, bleachers, press box and sports lighting,” Mr. Smith wrote in the application. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission approved the project to build a new athletic facility in 2021 after conducting several meetings deliberating the inclusion of an artificial turf field. Concerns over whether the artificial turf field could hurt the Island’s water quality have haunted the project, and the Oak Bluffs planning board later denied the school’s application for a permit, sparking an ongoing legal fight.

The school sued the planning board, saying it didn’t have the authority to reject the project. Late last year, the school emerged victorious, though the decision is currently being appealed by the planning board. 

The district had previously indicated that it planned to proceed prior to the motion for appeal. 

“We are enthusiastically moving forward, supported by the land court’s decision,” high school committee chair Kathryn Schertzer said at a meeting the day before the application filing. 

Although Mr. Smith did not include a planned date for the work, he said the school plans to reuse the bleachers and lights. 

“We understand that a building permit application will be required for the reinstallation of these structures and intend to fully comply with the building, plumbing and electrical codes at that time,” he wrote. 

The estimated value of the structures is $140,000 and the cost of the demolition is expected to be about $75,000. 

The school will also need to have its Martha’s Vineyard Commission approval reaffirmed once the current litigation ends.