Mark London, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC), will leave the powerful regional permitting and planning agency he has led since 2002, at the end of next summer.
Mr. London informed commissioners of his retirement plans in a brief email sent Thursday, Oct. 2, and in a brief announcement made at a meeting of the MVC Thursday night.
“I just wanted to let everyone know that I informed the executive committee this week that I am planning to retire at the end of next summer,” Mr. London said. “This will give the commission four to six months for a search, the new person two to four months to relocate, and will let us overlap next summer.”
In a telephone conversation with The Times Tuesday, Mr. London, who lives in Chilmark with his wife, Linda Thompson, spoke about his decision.
Asked why now, Mr. London said it was time. “I’m getting older, and I have had health issues off and on for the last three years,” he said. “Everything’s fine now, and I’m in great shape, so I want to have some time to myself and with my family. I’ll be just about 68 when I retire. I think that’s a good age.”
Mr. London said his contract was not a factor. He has no immediate plans and will stay on the Island. “I have all kinds of plans, but I haven’t got any plans,” he said. “I have a list of projects, and I’m not going to open it up until I’ve had a few months of rest and relaxation.”
Mr. London said he provided almost a year’s notice because it takes time to find someone with the right background for the job who is willing to pull up roots and move to Martha’s Vineyard.
“I had been coming here for 25 years before I moved here full-time 12 years ago,” he said.
Mr. London said the commissioners will put together a committee that will decide whether they will conduct the search or hire a company to do it. “Realistically, it will probably take a month or two to start advertising, and then it’s advisable to have several months to get the word out and do interviews,” he said. “Also, if the person selected is not from the Island, he or she will need time to wrap up his or her affairs wherever they are.”
Planning is key
Mr. London presides over an agency with an operating budget of $1.5 million. Salaries and employee benefits that include the cost of funding retirement benefits lay claim to the largest share, $1.1 million of the MVC budget. The commission has 10 staff members. Mr. London earns $128,224 annually.
The bulk of the MVC’s income comes from Dukes County taxpayers through town assessments based on property tax valuation. All seven towns in Dukes County, which includes Gosnold, share the cost of planning, according to their relative property valuation.
In 2002, Mr. London, was a longtime seasonal Island visitor and city planner in Montreal, Canada, when he was hired to lead the MVC.
At the time, Mr. London predicted that better planning would help clear the way for the MVC’s regulatory arm. “The planning will help us in the DRI [Development of Regional Impact] process afterwards,” he said in an interview shortly after he accepted the job.
Mr. London explained why he was attracted to the Vineyard. “The character has been largely maintained, notwithstanding the fact that the Island has almost tripled in population,” he said. “That really is quite remarkable.”