April 18, 2014

Elyria
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Elyria 2015 planners turn to pollsters

ELYRIA – Two Cleveland-area research firms that helped the Elyria Schools win the May 2007 tax issue will now help city officials measure residents` opinions about municipal services and planning.

Scientific polls and research by Westlake-based Triad Research Group and Cleveland-based Burges & Burges are planned for January and early February and will carry a price tag of $30,000 to $40,000, Elyria Mayor Bill Grace said.

The polling and research results will be added to the final draft of the Elyria 2015 Plan, a planning project slated for completion in late December or early January.

Grace has long touted the Elyria 2015 Plan as a comprehensive master plan that can help steer the city`s direction and decision-making. Much of its contents to date have been drafted by city planners, dozens of volunteers and special committees. The plan focuses on issues such as safety services, parks and recreation, arts and culture, and economic growth.

The scientific phone survey is a new foray for the city, Grace said.

“The goal is to gain a better understanding of the community`s views on the city`s condition, and their desire to support certain initiatives,” Grace said. “We believe it will be a great aid in putting together the final action plan for 2015, as well as serving as a guide to City Council.”

The city decided to shell out big bucks to the researchers after Triad and Burges & Burges helped Elyria Schools gain voter approval on the tax issue to build a new high school.

Grace wouldn`t say whether the survey results could help the city measure the community`s sentiments about any potential tax increases, but he acknowledged that the 2015 steering committee has discussed ways of funding some of the items in the plan.

“How we fund things will be up to the steering committee, City Council and ultimately the community, if we do anything at all,” Grace said. “At this point, it doesn`t appear the community is interested in that, but we`ll see what their views are.”

Triad`s phone survey will include a handful of questions that take between 10 and 15 minutes to answer, while about 500 polled residents will serve as a scientific sampling of the population at large, Grace said.

Triad and Burges & Burges will spend a week planning, a week of polling and a few weeks compiling data and marketing the results.

“Generally, it will give us a sense of priorities about how the city should spend its money,” Grace said. “It gives greater focus to city government and community organizations that are looking to participate.”

The survey results could help city officials determine what projects or plans the community is interested in pursuing – swimming pools, parks, roadways and anything city-related.

If the results are useful, the polling could become a semiannual or annual endeavor, Grace said.

“More and more organizations and communities are doing this,” Grace said.

Grace said the finalized Elyria 2015 Plan should be presented to Council sometime in January or February.

Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.