Tisbury, looking ahead
Tisbury is in a tough spot. Each Island town has challenges, some significant. But, for Tisbury the issues are many, the price tag will certainly be monstrous, and the town's relatively small size and its nearly built-out status severely complicate the problem of financing what must be done.
At the same time, although Tisbury has historically failed to plan for needed change, there are signs that the current membership of the town planning board, encouraged by the town selectmen, has the broad, thoughtful outlook that will be needed to address the growth-related issues that face town voters and taxpayers. Their determined, careful leadership will be required to navigate the sea of decisions that must face voters in the next few years.
The planning board has done a draft municipal needs assessment. The 26-page document reviews town departments, space needs, and priorities. It includes an inventory of buildings and town-owned property in terms of space, condition, value, and costs, and suggests possible options for their use.
The draft assessment will be discussed with townspeople at a public hearing on March 12, 7:30 pm, at the Tisbury Senior Center.
Perhaps wisely, Tisbury voters have balked at proposals in the past few years to spend vast sums to solve one or another of the municipal infrastructure problems. Doubtless, they have been uneasy at following the path that led to the misplaced eyesore that houses the police department. Apart from their despair at the huge dollars that will certainly be involved, it is likely many voters realize that a comprehensive approach to solving problems, such as the need for a new public safety building that can fit the new fire truck, is absolutely required.
As Times writer Janet Hefler reports this morning, the planning board has conducted a survey of all town departments, to catalogue available space, current needs, and future projections. The planners also created a database of all town property, acreage, number and size of buildings, and assessed values. In addition, the planners reviewed past municipal services plans and reports and consulted with the selectmen and other town committees and commissions about Tisbury's needs, priorities, and options.
Among other conclusions, the planners found that all of Tisbury's major public buildings, which house the fire department, police and ambulance departments, and town administrative offices, are too small, in poor locations, and mostly in poor condition. New locations are scarce, probably expensive, and then there's the question of parking.
Beyond all this, there is the complicated matter of setting priorities to address these several problems, and even more daunting, there is the requirement that a spending plan and financing program must be created that Tisbury taxpayers may reasonably afford.
Still, as difficult as this work has been, and as troublesome as the work that lies ahead will certainly be, the time is right to get on with it. Tisbury voters may grumble, but ultimately they will appreciate the leadership of planners and selectmen who know that the town cannot delay this tough work any longer.