Planners assisting Tisbury to develop a master plan say the town needs to make some changes to its government structure in order to thrive over the coming years.

Judi Barrett, of Barrett Planning Group in Hingham, last week recommended adding a new town hall department for planning and sustainability and changing municipal leadership from a town administrator to a town manager.

Ms. Barrett and colleague Jill Slankas, who are working with the town’s master plan steering committee to develop a long-term road map for development in Tisbury, spoke Friday at a public forum on town planning goals.

About 50 people attended the meeting. — Mark Alan Lovewell

“If you don't invest in implementing your plan, it's not going to happen on its own,” Ms. Barrett told about 50 people who turned out for the meeting at the Tisbury Senior Center.

Switching to a town manager will make Tisbury's government run more efficiently, she said.

Under state law, a town administrator’s job responsibilities are determined by the select board. In practice, this means that Tisbury administrator John (Jay) Grande must seek approval for routine matters by asking the board at its biweekly public meetings.

A town manager has the autonomy to make day-to-day decisions without referring to the select board, although the board still has final authority over the manager’s actions, Ms. Barrett said.

Changing from one form of leadership to the other requires action by the state legislature, following a home rule petition approved by town meeting voters, she said.

All six Island towns have town administrators, though Falmouth and some other Cape towns have managers.

Ms. Barrett also recommended hiring a director of planning and sustainability for the town, which is confronting rising seas and other effects of global climate change.

“You really need these two positions in your town, one to kind of have an overarching view of how you're dealing with sustainability and natural resource protection, and the other … managing the shop,” she said.

Along with changes in leadership, Ms. Barrett and Ms. Slankas proposed a series of new town policies to support the master plan.

Participants in Friday’s gathering were asked to review the policies on easel boards around the room and add stickers to their top choices, with each person given six stickers to deploy across 28 policies.

More than two dozen stickers endorsed a policy to update the town’s zoning bylaws by making them easier to use and aligning them with the master plan.

Another much-stickered policy would develop a comprehensive traffic-reduction and parking plan that includes pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit and water transportation as well as automobiles and trucks.

Participants at Friday’s forum also favored creating a more efficient network of roads and paths, with a connector between the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road; using existing laws and new incentives to encourage housing choice; protecting town wetlands and waterways and developing regulations to cover demolition requests for old houses.

Write-in suggestions, on sticky notes provided for the purpose, included “Implement rules against business[es] buying homes for ‘Airbnb,’” “Encourage use of electric golf carts” and “Force Stop & Shop and the Post Office to move away from the waterfront.”

One writer asked for more time in public parking, while another urged restricting access for cars. Multiple write-ins suggested a public park or visitor center on Water street near the ferry terminal.

Following Friday’s presentation, a Saturday morning open house at the senior center gave Tisbury residents and business owners a second opportunity to weigh in on the proposed policies, which are posted online at along with a report on key issues facing the town and a list of seven overarching goals for the master plan.

Tisbury planning board administrator Amy Upton estimated that close to 100 people in all turned out for the weekend events.

The public feedback will be incorporated into the plan that Ms. Barrett and Ms. Slankas will bring to the master plan steering committee for approval this winter.

Massachusetts law gives the planning board sole authority over developing and implementing a master plan, although the select board has asked for a town meeting vote on the plan when it is completed.