Walnut Creek council hears what residents want
By Anessa Myers
Published in News on July 27, 2008 10:34 AM
WALNUT CREEK -- Village Council members got a better idea of what residents like and dislike about their community and what they want to see in the future at their meeting Wednesday night.
Village Planning Board Chairman David Sloan presented the results of the village survey that has been circulating since March, with about a third of the village residents replying.
The results were lumped into eight areas, the first of which described how the residents viewed the overall status of the village, and most favored it.
"There weren't a lot of axes to grind," Sloan said.
The top reasons that residents said they liked living in the village were the lakes, the peace and tranquility and the Walnut Creek Country Club. Most residents said the taxes they paid were worth it to live in the village, and many would pay more to get more.
Some, though, said that they felt the village was "losing its uniqueness due to growth," Sloan said.
But residents didn't ask for a post office or centralized mail, more street lights or a higher speed limit.
The results showed they want an increase in recreation, and more pointedly, 62 percent wanted a village fitness center.
Other recreation options such as a picnic shelter, increased playground space and a nature trail also won an overwhelming majority.
Rounding out the recreation category, the residents weren't as in favor of a softball and soccer field.
But overall, Sloan said that he believed residents wanted "more personal, family activities."
The survey also touched on environmental aspects of the village, and many were on board with what the council is already doing.
Ninety-eight percent of those who replied were in favor of expanding compost services and even putting a compost center in the village, and 95 percent were happy with the village recycling process.
Others agreed with the water conservation measures, recycling pickup and looking into how the village can increase energy efficiency, as well as the potential prohibition of open-air burning.
"I think we need to work toward planning to ban that," Sloan said.
As for roads and infrastructure, residents showed that they did not want the village to become a gated community, but thought the village did a good job with road improvement and signage.
The government category results showed that residents were happy with the village ordinances and knew whom to call if they have an issue, while in the public safety category, 86 percent of the residents felt secure.
Many also knew about and wanted to participate in crime prevention programs and most felt that police aggressiveness was right on target.
The Walnut Creek Country Club was another category on the list, with 70 percent of residents reporting that they were members of the club.
More than 70 percent of them also believed that the village and the club should try to establish some sort of partnership and have resident rates or incentives.
Ninety-percent of the respondents also wanted to see more community dinners or picnics that could take place at the club or the village hall.
The last part of the survey asked residents what they wanted to see in their dream village.
"This was if money or time wasn't an object, what do you see for the next 5 or 10 years?" Sloan said.
The most common answers, he said, were a simple and close-knit community, maximized neighborhood involvement, established community activities, well-attended village meetings, top notch recreation facilities, curbs, gutters and a bike path, shopping areas and an improved Village Green, and attractive entrances with uniformed mailboxes.
Sloan explained that the planning board put together the summary for initial review by the council, but now plans to go back and analyze the pieces further to see exactly what people want and how those items might be addressed.
He asked that the council hold "subject matter" hearings for residents to further express their wants and needs.
Mayor Darrell Horne said that they would try to do so in the fall.
"I think we need to have meetings in conjunction with the planning board and have two-way conversations," he said. "So when we do come up with a plan, more people will be on board. ... We need to hear from the other two-thirds of the residents."
The planning board will also develop a priority list from those recommendations that the council can then move forward in pursuing.
"We want to try to get some high-impact, low-cost items moving," Sloan said.
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