Edgartown library will dissect the Island Plan
Following up on Edgartown 101, last winter's award-winning series, the Edgartown public library will present Island Plan 101 (IP101), an in-depth look at the plan from both an insider's and an outsider's point of view. The final version of the Island Plan itself will shortly be published in hard copy and in PDF format, and the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) will make its own presentations to introduce it to the public.
However, IP101 promises to draw on the penetrating perspectives of respected community experts who were not involved in creating and writing the Island Plan, as well as insiders' knowledge about the plan's construction and adoption.
The 50-year Island Plan, almost five years in the building, cost more than $300,000. It was formally accepted by the MVC on December 10. It "outlines a vision for the future of Martha's Vineyard and includes 206 strategies for getting there," according to the MVC web site. For years, draft versions of the various sections and subsections have been published and debated in public forums, in the Island newspapers, and in living rooms and kitchens. Even the planning process itself has been widely attacked, supported, and deconstructed. However, because the Island Plan is so huge and has grown over such a long time, it may be that no more than a few hundred Islanders know what is in the final version.
Island Plan 101
Nis Kildegaard, the reference librarian at the Edgartown Library who created Edgartown 101, also organized IP101, which he calls "an arm's length look at key aspects of the Island Plan." Mr. Kildegaard secured the panelists and will moderate the discussions.
"The MVC will be making its own efforts to reach out and present the Island Plan to the community," Mr. Kildegaard told The Times. "We didn't want to duplicate that, but rather add to the conversation." [Editor's Note: Mr. Kildegaard is a regular columnist on The Martha's Vineyard Times OpEd Page, and he also writes news and feature articles for the newspaper.]
There will be six sessions, each focusing on a different aspect of the plan: February 3, 10, and 17, and March 3, 10, and 17. Each one-hour session will feature a panelist who was an insider in the plan's creation. Four of the sessions will also feature at least one panelist who was not involved in the creation and writing of the plan but who has standing in the community and an expert perspective on the issue at hand. There will be opportunities for questions and comments from the audience.
- February 3 will cover the two opening chapters of the Island Plan: Development and Growth, and The Built Environment. The insider will be Henry Stephenson, an urban designer and architect, a member of the plan's steering committee, chairman of the Built Environment work group, and a member of the Tisbury planning board. The outsiders will be Judy Federowicz, active in Vineyard real estate for 25 years and now broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate and chairman of the William Street historic district commission in Tisbury; and Chris Scott, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust.
- February 10 will cover section three of the Island Plan, the Natural Environment. Mr. Kildegaard, departing from the pattern of the rest of the sessions, has invited only Tom Chase, who was active on the work group that created this section of the plan. Mr. Chase is director of special projects for the Massachusetts Islands Office of the Nature Conservancy. Mr. Kildegaard explained, "Tom has a great take on the conservation picture - after 15 minutes of talking with him, I knew I wanted him as our only panelist for the second program in the series."
- February 17 will tackle Water Resources. The insider will be Bill Wilcox, water resources planner for the MVC, whom Mr. Kildegaard describes as "far and away the most knowledgeable guy about water quality issues on the Vineyard." The outsider will be Joe Alosso, manager of the wastewater treatment plants in both Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.
- After a week's hiatus, IP101 resumes on March 3 with discussions on Transportation and on Energy and Waste. Jeff Parker of Chilmark, an international consultant in public transit, was chairman of the Island Plan transportation work group. Angela Grant, the outsider, is general manager of the Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority. Sharon Strimling Florio was chairman of the Energy and Waste work group.
- March 10 will deal with two related sections of the plan: Housing, and Livelihood and Commerce. Elio Silva, a member of the Island Plan steering committee, will talk about the Livelihood and Commerce section of the plan. Mr. Kildegaard calls him "an energetic entrepreneur with a great perspective on the local business economy." The outsider panelists will be David Vigneault, executive director of the Dukes County Housing Authority; and Melissa Vincent, a nine-year member of the Edgartown affordable housing committee and a board member of the Island Housing Trust.
- March 17 will sum up IP101 with two insiders: Jim Athearn, chairman of the Island Plan steering committee, and Christina Brown, chairman of the MVC. Mr. Kildegaard comments, "There will definitely be one person from the outside in this last panel. . .me." He predicts, "This will be a chance to sum up some of the themes that emerge in the previous five weeks, and ask, Where do we go from here?"
Mr. Kildegaard is himself just a bit of an insider at the Island Plan, not because he had anything to do with writing it, but because his fluency in computer graphic design has netted him the assignment for the MVC of laying out the finished print and PDF versions. As the publication designer, he is intimately familiar with everything in the plan. As the moderator of IP101, he should be able to quote chapter and verse if questions arise.
Mr. Kildegaard was the moving spirit behind Edgartown 101, a six-session investigation of town government produced last year in partnership with the Martha's Vineyard chapter of the League of Women Voters. Edgartown 101 earned the Edgartown Library an award from the Massachusetts Library Association (MLA) as the year's best public program by a library. Recordings of the series made by Andrue Carr were seen on MVTV, and DVDs continue to circulate.
The little Edgartown library collected five prizes at the biennial MLA Public Relations awards ceremony last May. In an article in Bay State Libraries, published by the MLA, Edgartown library director Felicia Cheney is quoted, "Librarians from across the state were asking, 'Edgartown? Who are you guys?'"
She credits the library's recent successes to the 2006 hiring of Mr. Kildegaard, an experienced newspaper editor and freelance writer and designer.
"Very few library job postings look specifically for design and communication skills," Ms. Cheney said. "I think libraries could help themselves immensely [if they did]."
Island Plan 101, 7 pm. Feb. 3, 10, and 17; and March 3, 10, and 17. All the programs are free, and everyone is welcome. People are welcome to drop in for as few or as many programs as they wish (there's no final exam). There will be refreshments. Everything is being filmed for MVTV, and DVD copies of all six programs will eventually be available to patrons at the library. For information, call 508-627-4221.