08/29/08 — Walnut Creek Village Council plans community meetings

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Walnut Creek Village Council plans community meetings

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 29, 2008 1:39 PM

WALNUT CREEK -- After hearing a report last month about the village survey results, the Walnut Creek Village Council decided Wednesday night to hold three "town hall" meetings during which residents can discuss the community's future.

The goal for the meetings is to give the residents more of a chance to have a "two-way conversation" with the council members, village officials said. They will be blended in with the next three council meetings on Sept. 24, Oct. 22 and Dec. 3 and will be held at 7 p.m. at the Walnut Creek Country Club, prior to the regular council meetings, which will start at 8 p.m.

Village officials have separated the village into three districts, and are asking residents to only attend the meeting that coincides with their district. The districts and meetings will be outlined in the next village newsletter, officials said.

In July, council members got a better idea of what residents like and dislike about their community and what they want to see in the future.

Village Planning Board chairman David Sloan asked the council at its meeting last month to arrange the town hall meetings after he presented the results of the survey that about one-third of the residents took.

Mayor Darrell Horne agreed it was a good idea.

"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 results were lumped into eight areas, the first of which described how residents viewed the overall status of the village, and most favored it.

"There weren't a lot of axes to grind," Sloan said then.

The top reasons residents said they like living in the village were the lakes, the peace and tranquility and the Walnut Creek Country Club. Most residents said the taxes they pay are worth it to live in the village, and many said they would pay more to get more.

They did not, however, ask for a post office or centralized mail, more street lights or a higher speed limit.

The most negative comments recorded, Sloan said, was that some residents felt like the village is "losing its uniqueness due to growth."

Other results showed resident wanting an increase in recreation opportunities.

More pointedly, 62 percent want a village fitness center. Other recreation options such as a picnic shelter, increased playground space and a nature trail also won an overwhelming majority, but not softball and soccer fields.

Based on those results, Sloan has said he believes residents want "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.

As for roads and infrastructure, residents showed that they do not want the village to become a gated community, but that they think the village does a good job with road improvement and signage.

The government category results showed that residents are happy with the village ordinances and know whom to call if they have an issue, while in the public safety category, 86 percent of the residents said they feel secure. Many also indicated that they know about and want 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 are 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 if time or money wasn't a factor.

The most common answers, he said then, 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 uniform mailboxes.

The planning board put together the summary for initial review by the council, but is currently analyzing the pieces further to see exactly what people want and how those items might be addressed.

In other business Wednesday, the council approved using some of the lake maintenance money in this year's budget for grass-eating carp instead of on chemicals to keep the vegetation in the lakes at a manageable level. The cost for about 2,100 sterile carp in the two lakes will be about $18,000, including delivery fees.

Councilman Danny Jackson emphasized that the carp will not multiply and will likely eat more than the older carp currently in the lakes.

"They will eat two to three times their body weight in grass per day," he said.

He also said he believes the fish will be "more eco-friendly," and the council will get "more bang for our buck with the fish."

The council also approved for the same company delivering the carp to conduct a $4,840 survey of the lakes' current conditions, types of fish that are currently living in them and how to improve them in the future.