BY SUE BARNS
Robin Gurule’s LTE about the County’s tendency to plan expensive projects for small interest groups while existing facilities go wanting for maintenance, got me wondering: Shouldn’t we ask our residents to voice their concerns and priorities for Community Services Department (CSD) projects? Wouldn’t it be best to collect some info on this before hiring consultants and spending millions of dollars on shiny new developments? How about a survey or something…
WAIT! We have those data! The CSD hired a consultant to poll the community and produced “a statistically valid survey to establish community needs, satisfaction levels, and prioritize actionable items” just this year! (Survey results can be seen here under “Integrated Community Services Master Plan”.) The “Top Five Facilities and Amenities Priorities” identified from the survey are additional trails/paths, maps and signage, additional picnic and shade shelters, better maintenance of existing parks and recreation facilities, and upgrades to Camp May. Other desires of the community are also listed and ranked. Expanded golf course driving range? Not on the list. Tennis complex? Way down the list. Mountain biking skills park? MIA. Tellingly, the consultants highlighted this survey response: “I would like for the County to listen better when the community responds to surveys or questions.”
So, we know what residents want. We do not have a limitless budget to keep paying consultants to design multi-million dollar projects to serve small user groups. CSD and the County’s path is pretty clearly laid out by this survey. How about we fully attend to our community’s identified priorities, and if we have money left over, consider new facilities (if economic, social equity, opportunity and environmental costs permit)?