MERIDEN — Members of the Steering Committee charged with drafting the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development learned Thursday that city residents want to expand the tax base, attract businesses downtown, eliminate blight and improve public transportation, according to a survey distributed last month.
About 860 residents responded to the survey which queried them on where they lived, their priorities, and what could be improved. The survey, which is available online and in hard copy at City Hall and the Meriden Public Library, continues until July 18.
The city hired BFJ Planning to help the committee craft a 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development that will guide zoning, economic development and quality of life issues. The steering committee will host another workshop on Sept. 5.
Steering committee member Len Rich expressed disappointment that the survey only generated 860 responses, and asked if a mailer would have been more effective.
Frank Fish, a principal with BFJ replied the combination of the focus groups and survey results could offer a snapshot of the community.
“We wanted to show some of the takeaways from the public outreach,” Fish said. “We’re hoping to send out one last e-blast and get the word out.”
Most of the respondents came from the southern part of the city and were nearly divided on the east and west sides. When asked what words came to mind when they think about Meriden, many responded high taxes, diverse, low income, struggling, and nice parks.
Respondents biggest priorities were; Lower taxes, economic development, businesses growth, safety, and education.
More than half said the highest priorities was to make the downtown a destination to live and shop. Other top priorities included, reuse or redevelopment of vacant properties, improve blight enforcement, and provide a mix of housing types for all Meriden residents.
When asked about quality of life issues, residents answered road maintenance was number one followed by safety/crime, and properties in disrepair.
Residents also listed attracting major employers to the city as their number one economic development goal, followed by supporting redevelopment and reinvestment in downtown and supporting small business.
When asked to pick three improvements in the downtown area would make you more likely to visit, 72.9 percent said they were not likely to visit the downtown area, 62.4 percent said more dining and food opportunities, and 43.9 percent said more shops and stores. About 40 percent said more programs and events at the Meriden Green.
When asked which community goals the city should prioritize in the next 10 years, 57 percent said provide the highest level of educational services to children, 40 percent said improve and enhance emergency services, police and fire and community policing. Another 30 percent said flooding.
The survey also revealed that residents want to see the city communicate more effectively with the community.
“There is room to pull people more in about what’s going on in their city,” said Noah Levine, a senior associate with BFJ Planning. “The city is already moving in the direction of open community communication. Again there is a lag in perception.”
The committee will host another workshop on Sept. 5.