Tisbury master plan seeks more public feedback

A full report is expected for the early fall.

Tisbury's Main Street is one of the areas the master plan looks at. — Eunki Seonwoo

Tisbury continues to work on its master plan and is looking for residents to provide input about how they want to see their town developed. There are two ways town residents can currently participate in the formation of the master plan: taking the survey or the virtual public workshops. The community survey is available at bit.ly/3Hlsu2Y. The public workshops will take place on Monday, Feb. 13, from 5 to 7 pm and on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Registration can be accessed at bit.ly/3CZp2J6, for Feb. 13, and at bit.ly/3GOmI8A, for Feb. 16. 

The master plan is described as “a plan for preservation, growth and change adopted by the planning board and led by Tisbury” with “long-term vision and growth policies to guide the community’s future development, land use, facilities and conservation decisions,” according to the plan’s website. It encompasses a variety of factors that affect Tisbury, such as economic development, housing, governance, and more. 

Martha’s Vineyard Commission special projects planner Dan Doyle said the plan is at a “pivotal moment” with the upcoming workshops. “We really want to drum up a big turnout from both property owners in these commercial districts in town and also the broader public,” he said. “In tandem, we really want to generate a good response rate from our community survey, which is live and open for another two and a half weeks.” 

According to Doyle, these upcoming efforts will build upon the walking tours, “visioning,” and workshops that took place in October. During the October workshops, participants mentioned a desire for improved walkability in Tisbury, potentially adding trees on State Road, a lack of wastewater services hindering possibly building more housing, and more. A summary of the findings is available on The Times website. 

Doyle said consultants have been going through input to determine “What should materialize as a viable alternative to existing conditions today.” According to Doyle, the workshop presentations in February will also catch people up to speed from the October meetings. Additionally, people will be able to hear from each other, which will allow the consultants to know whether the people who use the segments of Tisbury being discussed are also participating in the conversation. 

“The consultant’s work is only as good as the input we give them,” Tisbury master plan steering committee Lyndsay Famariss said. 

Famariss pointed out that “this is the first time that Tisbury has had a master plan,” underscoring how important it was to hear from the various voices in the town to figure out “how to move forward.” 

“As the steering committee, we’re charged with trying to get as much feedback from a variety of people in town with different interests and stakes in the town and just try to figure out what works, what we can use moving forward, what needs to change,” Famariss said. “I think there’s been a lot of passion in particular about the commercial districts.” 

Famariss said “this is the time” for residents, both year-round and seasonal, to voice their desires for the town. “This is going to get us closer to the town we all want to live in and want to see for the future,” she said. 

When asked what the town might want to focus on from the different parts of the plan, Doyle said they were not at that phase yet. 

“There was a big inventory to baseline the existing conditions today and we’re winding that down and kind of shifting into this phase of ‘here’s some possibilities for the next 10 to 15 years for Tisbury,” Doyle said. 

Famariss said she was “personally really surprised to see how interconnected these areas really are” while working on the master plan. 

“It’s really hard to talk about the business districts without talking about housing, employment, and taxes,” she said. “It’s really been a lesson for me in just how a lot of these themes that we’re being asked to cover are really just interconnected and you really can’t, I think, separate them entirely because it’s in a small community. One impacts the other.” 

Massachusetts towns are required to have a master plan, although there are many that do not have one yet. On Martha’s Vineyard, Oak Bluffs adopted a master plan in 2019 while Tisbury and Edgartown are in the process of developing one. 

Doyle and Famariss said there will be more opportunities for public engagement after the February workshops as well. According to Doyle, a full report will be available to the public in the early fall. 

Famariss encouraged people to “keep an eye out” for future opportunities to provide public input and to reach out to the steering committee members, whose contact information is available on the master plan website. 


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  2. Now that I am here, and no one has commented, I suppose I could ask a question for a mini-survey. As a citizen of Martha’s Vineyard, and from your knowledge of how Tisbury does things, do you believe that having Tisbury Committees of any kind will help the matter, or will they harm it. An honest question and maybe that is why the responses are so sparse.

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