Falmouth panel begins work on comprehensive survey of residents, businesses

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FALMOUTH — The Long-Range Planning Advisory Committee is preparing to draft an approximately 100-question survey of businesses and residents that will aid the committee in creating a new Comprehensive Plan for the town.

The town issued a request for proposals for a survey company to help the committee draft, organize and present the survey to the public. Proposals are due Oct. 25 and the survey is expected to be distributed to residents and businesses in January 2011.

“It’s just another tool, one in a series of tools the comprehensive plan committee wants to use to gather information,” Long-Range Planning Director Theo Holtwijk said.

The town used a similar survey before drafting the 2000 Comprehensive Plan.

Holtwijk said the town has set aside approximately $20,000 for the survey, which would include the cost of printing and postage.

“We want to reach out in as broad fashion as possible,” Holtwijk said, “covering all topics, but not making survey so long that people feel they don’t have time.”

He said some questions would be multiple choice, while others would be open-ended, and that the committee expected it to be between 12 and 16 pages long. The survey will likely be available in print form and online, although the exact manner by which it will be presented has not been determined.

In June, the town conducted an online three-question survey that asked people to rank the town from zero to 10. Just over 500 people have responded. The survey is still available on the town’s website, but will likely be shut down in the next few weeks.

Nearly 24 percent of respondents to the mini-survey ranked the town a 10, indicating they would highly recommend Falmouth as a place to live or to do business. Many who ranked the town highly mentioned the school system, the community feel, open space and proximity to Portland as their reasons.

Just over 3 percent ranked the town a zero, with many citing taxes and town and school spending as reasons for their dissatisfaction.

Those ranking the town in the middle mentioned the need for a community center, concern for senior citizen resources, a desire to attract businesses and protecting natural resources.

Holtwijk said the committee would use the responses they received from the mini-survey when drafting questions for the more detailed questionnaire.

In the spring of 2011, the committee will evaluate the responses and use them, along with other documents, tours, interviews and meetings, to determine how best to update the town’s Comprehensive Plan.

Holtwijk said the committee would likely have recommendations for the council to review in late 2011.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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