January arrived softly this year, with mild temperatures and no snow yet.

The landscape is bare and beautiful, downtown streets are mostly empty, a handful of hardy scallopers are still out on the ponds, and high school sports teams are returning to courts and gymnasiums and to the ice at the Martha’s Vineyard Arena.

With each day that goes by, the sky stays light a tiny bit longer.

Winter seems to stretch out endlessly at its start, but already the calendar for 2019 is filling up.

Inside town halls and other government office buildings, the planning season is underway. Budgets and warrant articles are being developed for spring annual town meetings. Public hearings are being set for zoning bylaw amendments and land use initiatives. Meetings are being held to tackle issues both old and new.

Here are ten issues the Gazette will be watching as 2019 unfolds.

1. Steamship Authority. The ferry line that is chartered to serve the year-round residents of the two Islands is at a critical juncture that cannot be overstated. A 140-page independent report from HMS Consulting in Seattle landed like a thud just before the Christmas holidays with its harsh assessment of outmoded management practices and lack of vision and leadership at the boat line. The SSA board of governors has pledged to hold a series of meetings this winter to begin to develop a strategic plan. Do they have the courage to do what needs to be done?

2. Tisbury School. A bitter taste still lingers over last year’s failed plan for a new school in the Island’s main port town. But town and school leaders have vowed to stay on the same page this time as they restart the work to renovate or rebuild the crumbling old brick school. Can Tisbury find a solution that is palatable to taxpayers?

3. Regional high school. After decades of deferred maintenance, the high school building and athletic fields are also badly deteriorated and need major upgrades. At annual town meetings in the spring voters in Island towns will be asked to share the approximate $1 million cost of a feasibility study, an important first step.

4. Oak Bluffs town hall. Voters strongly backed a new town hall last year but the support fell short when it came to adding another $1.3 million to the $9 million project. Now it will be up to the selectmen and their able town administrator to steer a clear path to a critically needed new facility.

5. Meetinghouse Way subdivision. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission will be put to the test when the plan for 34 market rate homes on 54 acres on the outskirts of Edgartown comes under review as a development of regional impact (DRI). The DRI review is expected to test the muscle of the regional planning commission, which has unique powers to review development but has seen few large subdivision plans since the 1980s and 1990s, when such plans were commonplace.

6. Community Services campus. Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, the umbrella social service organization that meets some of the direst needs on the Island, including day care, mental health services and substance abuse prevention, is about to embark on its first capital project in many years as it looks to expand and restructure its campus across from the high school in Oak Bluffs. The plan comes before the MVC for review later this month.

7. Beach Road Vineyard Haven. Mass DOT plans to spend $5 million to reconfigure the small industrial corridor running from Five Corners to the drawbridge. The project has been long in the works, but there remains disagreement among stakeholders, mainly businesses fronting the road. Meanwhile, plans are in the works for various development projects along the Vineyard Haven waterfront, prompting questions about the Island’s preparedness for rising sea levels.

8. Bingo hall in Aquinnah. The Wampanoag tribe has won the right to build a class 2 gaming facility on tribal land in Aquinnah. That was a year ago, and while a few details have trickled out, the tribe’s plans remain mostly under wraps. Aquinnah selectmen are awaiting more information. Will this be the year that the long-promised bingo hall will open its doors?

9. Short-term rental tax. The new state law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker just days before the end of the year extending the hotel and rooms tax to short-term rentals is already reverberating around the Island, where the lucrative summer rental market generates income for many homeowners and rental agencies. Towns have broad latitude under the law to assess additional local taxes and impose regulations, and the impact of the law on the Island housing market will bear watching.

10. Recreational marijuana sales. The first retail non-medical cannabis stores have opened in Massachusetts. And while the sole license issued to date on the Island is for the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana, Vineyard towns are beginning to grapple with zoning bylaws and possible impact fees around recreational sales.