The following remarks were delivered at the August 16 retirement party for Mark London, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC).
The first time I met Mark was at an annual meeting of the Vineyard Conservation Society. I was an MVC commissioner at the time, maybe chairman, and also a member of VCS. That was awhile ago.
Now I am chairman of the VCS board of directors, and long retired from active participation with the MVC. A lot has happened during that time. Mark was hired as the new head of the commission at a crucial moment, when the continued existence of the MVC was in question. Mark’s much-needed leadership and his insightful, objective eye guided the MVC through these troubled waters.
When things settled down, Mark was able to spend time directing the development of the Island plan. This community effort, sometimes long and tedious, was kept on track with Mark’s steady hand and well guided staff. In my mind and the minds of a lot of other concerned and knowledgeable Vineyarders, this document is and should be the road map and basis for future planning in all six Island towns and for the MVC. If you haven’t seen this document, please take a look.
Mark’s job is about planning and regulating. I think in order to be successful, a big component is understanding the politics. With six completely independent and quite different towns to serve, there was a lot to learn. He jumped right in, created a stir, but kept the MVC moving forward.
The MVC in its role as a regional body with strong representation from all the towns, county, and even the state offers a safe forum for equal participation. I think Mark has done a great job of not playing favorites, being sure all parties are heard and are on equal footings. Mark has helped to make the R word — regionalization — a lot more acceptable.
The Vineyard is a better place since Mark and Linda [his wife], a very talented artist, made the Island their year-round home. It is a great place to work and a better place to retire and have more time to enjoy all the things Mark has worked so hard to protect and enhance. I know Mark will continue to offer his talents and time to worthy causes, but on his own schedule.
Thank you, Mark, for all your hard work and countless hours at so many meetings. Martha’s Vineyard is a wonderful, yet very fragile place. Because of agencies like the MVC and the Land Bank, local boards, and the many nonprofit volunteer groups, people continue to flock here, many with hopes of calling this home. The job of gatekeeper is not easy. Thanks to you, the MVC continues to be a vital part of this task.
Enjoy this next chapter in your life.