The Tisbury Vision Council is taking on Owen Park as its first big project. The council will meet on Thursday, Jan. 28, at 7 pm in the Tisbury Senior Center to discuss and take input on several improvement ideas for the park overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor.
The Vision Council began as a way to help the public be more involved and up-to-date about how the town is working toward future goals. Made up of approximately 12 people, it includes planning board members and a Department of Public Works representative.
“It’s really an experiment in a way, but we’re trying to find ways that community groups can be involved in town projects and do it in a way that coordinates with the boards that would also be involved in those kinds of activities,” planning board member Cheryl Doble said in a phone conversation Tuesday.
Owen Park is one of the most treasured and heavily used areas in town, Ms. Doble said. The council has been gathering information on the park for months, including researching its history, gathering pictures, creating a timeline of changes to the area, and surveying the current conditions. They also interviewed frequent users of the park, including harbormaster Jay Wilbur, boat owners in the mooring field, a representative from the model yacht club, band members who perform in the gazebo over the summer, and the film festival group that screens movies there.
“When you’re just going for one use, to go to a boat or go swimming, you sometimes don’t think about the range of things that go on at that park, and how the park can be improved to support these various activities,” Ms. Doble said.
The council has drafted a number of goals, and now they are looking for community feedback before hiring a designer to draft several options for improvements to the park.
“This is really an opportunity for us to share what we’ve been learning and gathering, confirm that we’re headed in the right direction with these goals, and share the next steps with the community in terms of where we’re headed with the park,” Ms. Doble said. “We’re trying to initiate a community dialogue around these different projects, so these projects don’t just go off and happen without anybody knowing about them.”
The council has already initiated some improvements. For example, the town is working to replace the flagpole at the park, which was not in good condition, Ms. Doble said.
Work is expected to continue on the park in the spring. “It will probably involve some planting, some clearing, and maintenance kinds of things that we can do to improve the park immediately,” she said. Meanwhile, the council will create a master plan that organizes its goals and incorporates the community input.
Ms. Doble said the council recognizes it will need funding to implement any big projects. Last year the town received some funding from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), which will help with some of the initial work. There have also been private donations to the town that can go toward improvements to the park, she said.
Ms. Doble stressed that the community needs to get involved.
“We really want to understand and hear the community’s reaction to the goals that have been developed,” she said. “Are they comfortable with these goals? Are these the correct goals? Do they need to be modified? Is there something we’ve missed? We really want to have community consensus and understanding that we’ve captured this.”