ZEPHYRHILLS — The city's annual survey confirms what officials suspected: Most residents oppose the state's plans to turn U.S. 301 into a one-way street through downtown.
As part of a $70 million road-widening project slated for 2015, the state Department of Transportation proposes converting the downtown stretch of U.S. 301 into a one-way street for northbound traffic.
All southbound traffic would be diverted to Sixth Street, which already is one-way. Both streets eventually would be widened to three lanes.
About 71 percent of the residents surveyed said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the proposal, and 79 percent said it should remain a two-way road.
"I think we'll probably use the survey to show the Department of Transportation that the community is not interested in a one-way expressway through town," said City Manager Steve Spina.
This is the fifth year that Zephyrhills has had a satisfaction survey to poll residents on a range of topics. It was conducted at no cost to the city by students in the University of South Florida masters in public administration program.
Spina said he is always impressed with the work of the students, and the surveys are an excellent way to measure the needs and wants of citizens.
"It's just good for governments in general to have an idea of what people think and what they would like to see," Spina said.
Between 1,200 and 1,300 surveys were sent out randomly in residents' water bills, and 40 percent were sent back to the city. Surveys were kept anonymous.
About 73 percent of respondents also said it would be more convenient to push back the city elections from April to November, to coincide with state and national elections.
Spina said it will be up to the council to decide whether to change election day.
"When you have a really small election turnout, around 7 or 8 percent, it's hard to gauge what people are thinking," Spina said.
About 62 percent of respondents were satisfied with the city government overall. More than 50 percent of respondents across the board were satisfied with the jobs the mayor, City Council and city manager are doing.
The majority of respondents were happy with services provided by the city; the Police Department, Fire Department and library all received a high number of excellent and good ratings, and a little more than 51 percent of the people who filled out the survey said they received good service overall for their tax dollars.
About 70 percent of respondents were over the age of 56, and the majority were full-time residents of Zephyrhills.