Survey says . . .
Marion’s current survey about long-term goals is a useful process that all communities should, and in many cases already do, participate in on a regular basis.
The survey is likely to reveal that people move to Marion not so much for economic opportunity as for family connections. That could be interpreted two ways, of course: that we need to create new opportunities or that we need to focus on not losing current and potential residents because, for example, not enough long-term care is available for loved ones already living here.
Much of the survey focuses on attracting young people to the community. Surprisingly, very little talks about attracting another prime audience for growth: mid-career professionals who can work from home and might appreciate what’s available in a small town — particularly a familiar one with other family members already here.
The survey asks a lot of questions about housing, especially for people with relatively modest incomes. Although that’s a fine goal, most recent discussion has focused instead on how few homes are available with features that more affluent families might prefer — extra bedrooms, more bathrooms, large kitchens, bonus rooms, and the like.
Interpreting results will be tricky. Put an emphasis on inexpensive housing and the likelihood is a lot of people with substantially below-average income will want to move here. That, in turn, can create additional demands on police and social service networks.
There’s a curious question about Batt Industrial Park that might confuse some respondents by asking them to list things they want to see in the community — restaurants, for example — but linking them to one specific area of town. Being careful to read instructions might be important for all survey-takers.
There’s a really interesting set of questions designed to elicit whether people believe others in the community are as willing as they are to put community ahead of self. Any problem identified in that area will be hard to solve by a master plan. There’s even a section — we aren’t sure what purpose it serves — devoted to where people get news and information about the city.
The way the survey is being conducted, largely through people who regularly use smart phones and the Internet, may skew answers toward particular demographics and could make it harder for others to express their views.
Paper copies are available at the city building and Marion City Library. You also can complete the survey by following a short URL we created especially for it: http://mnks.us/survey.
This is everyone’s chance to participate in the city’s planning process. We urge all community members to spend time thinking about issues and invest the few minutes it takes to complete the survey.
— ERIC MEYER