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Survey finds Dade City residents want more parking, recreational facilities

DADE CITY — They want an expanded walking path, a public swimming pool and a skate park.

Half of them would prefer to see city elections fall on the same day as state and national elections.

They're less interested in being able to see their water bill online or pay the bill via credit card.

The results of the Dade City satisfaction survey are in, and the information collected will help city staff prepare for the future.

City manager William Poe said the results will help the city respond to what is on the minds of residents.

"It helps us to see the community's concerns, so we know that we're on the right path," Poe said.

Still, the results reflect the preferences of a select few: Out of 1,000 surveys randomly sent out in water bills, only 84 were filled out and sent back in.

This is the first year the city has surveyed its residents. The project was conducted, at no cost to the city, by students in the masters program in public administration at the University of South Florida.

The survey focused on residents' satisfaction with city government as well as the issues of downtown development, parking and recreation.

There was also a space for residents to write comments. The top three concerns residents wrote about "were budget restrictions, downtown parking and insufficient recreational facilities," Poe said.

Respondents seemed happy with city government, with close to 60 percent saying they agreed or strongly agreed they were satisfied with the mayor, city commission, city manager, and city government as a whole.

More than 50 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote if elections were moved to the same day as state and national elections.

Another survey in 2010

Poe said two questions the city was especially interested in asked whether residents would like to pay and view their utility bills online or with a credit card. According to the survey data, 51 percent would not want to access their bills online, and almost 66 percent would not pay with a credit card.

Parking trouble spots included City Hall, the courthouse, Beef O'Brady's and the post office. In the survey report, it was recommended the city look into providing off-site parking with transportation to downtown or a centralized parking garage.

As for recreational facilities, respondents would like to see an expanded walking path, a public swimming pool and a skate park. They would also like to see more activities offered, like arts and crafts classes, which the report attributed to the older population of people who filled out the survey, with almost 67 percent of them being women.

Almost 60 percent of respondents were over the age of 55, and almost 80 percent were white.

Poe said the city would revise next year's survey to reflect Dade City's evolving issues and take into account advice from the USF students who worked on the project.

Next year, addressed return envelopes will be included with the survey. This year, residents were asked to send the survey back with their water bill, which Poe said may have created the impression that the surveys were not anonymous.

He hopes the change will result in more surveys returned next year.

"Eight percent isn't a good turnout, but I think for the very first time it's a step in the right direction," Poe said.

Survey finds Dade City residents want more parking, recreational facilities 05/07/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 7, 2009 8:30pm]
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