Tisbury has so far operated without a master plan, a document intended to guide town boards by outlining a clear vision for development, but that’s about to change. The town of Tisbury opened its master planning process to the public Wednesday with a series of open workshops that drew dozens of participants.

More than 50 people in all took part in the day’s discussions, said Dan Doyle, a planner with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission who is shepherding the town’s master plan development with contractor Barrett Planning Group.

State law requires every town with a planning board to have a master plan, a Barrett consultant said at Wednesday’s afternoon session, held in the town’s emergency services facility on West Spring street.

“It’s been 350 years since Tisbury’s had one,” consultant Carly Venditti told the nearly 30 people who turned out.

Island business owner Brooke Katzen, professional sailor Nevin Sayre and artist Louise Clough, who is also a member of the town’s finance and advisory committee and climate committee, were among the afternoon participants, who broke into three groups to share what they see as Tisbury’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges.

Some aspects of the town wound up in more than one category: Tisbury’s role as an Island gateway was identified as a strength, an opportunity and a challenge, while access to the waterfront was seen as both an opportunity and — because much of it is in private hands — a challenge.

Further strengths, participants said, were the town’s working waterfront and year-round residential community, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and other cultural resources, while opportunities included improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and encouraging a more vibrant downtown business scene.

“Some of the buildings on Main street that should be the anchors of the street are sitting vacant,” Mr. Katzen said.

Weaknesses listed Wednesday ranged from traffic woes at Five Corners and the intersection of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and State Road to the precarious situation of the Tisbury School and the risks to the town of rising sea levels and climate change.

Most of these also were identified as challenges, and participants saw plenty of other challenges ahead for Tisbury.

Real estate agent Chip Hughes raised the specter of short-term “party house” rentals in which homes are trashed by celebrating tenants.

Mr. Sayre said he had also heard of the trend.

“There are people that literally walk away from their [security] deposit,” he said.

Housing affordability, population volatility and costly capital expenditures also made the list of challenges facing the town.

In addition to the afternoon workshop at the emergency services facility, two smaller sessions were held Wednesday morning at the West Chop Club and an evening workshop at the Vineyard Haven Library drew more than 20 people, Mr. Doyle said Thursday morning

Many more gatherings are planned for future months, Tisbury planning board member Cheryl Doble told the afternoon group.

“There’s going to be a series of open public forums into the fall and probably over the winter,” Ms. Doble said.

At least some of the events will be held online, she added.

“Even if you’re off Island, you will be able to participate,” Ms. Doble said.

There also will be gatherings timed around the fall holidays for returning seasonal Islanders, she said.

A master plan website is also in the works at www.tisburyma.gov/planning-board, she said, where results from the forums will be posted. In the mean time, participants will receive email updates.

“We will summarize … and we will share it back to you,” Ms. Doble said.

The plan is expected to be complete by late next summer, said Alec Sargent, who co-chairs the 12-member master plan steering committee.

“I think we’ll start seeing preliminary plans and recommendations in the spring,” Mr. Sargent said.

Public input from this year’s workshops and forums will weigh heavily in developing the final master plan, he added.

“This is all about listening now,” Mr. Sargent said.