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What does Sequim need?
Two new surveys prepared for the City of Sequim by ETC Institute soon will begin showing up in the mailboxes of area residents.
ETC, a market research firm, prepared the two surveys to see if Sequim and Clallam County citizens believe the City of Sequim is performing its various tasks well and to gather opinions on whether the city needs additional recreational opportunities.
ETC has promised the city council it will gather and analyze at least 600 of each of the surveys. In both cases, the ETC will collect a minimum of 300 completed surveys from those living within city limits and another 300 from those living beyond the city’s borders.
Sequim City Manager Steve Burkett brought the idea for the surveys to the council, saying he’s used ETC to perform similar surveys in other cities where he’s worked. It’s all part of running the city like a business, Burkett said.
Burkett said, “Most cities rely on the five people who show up for council meetings” to provide public input, “or letters to the editor.” These surveys improve on that model, providing “good two-way communications,” Burkett said.
“This is a real important part of the way I would like to run the city.”
Burkett said rather than simply gathering anecdotal evidence, the surveys are scientific, producing results that are both “valid and reliable.”
Burkett said ETC has performed similar surveys in hundreds of cities across the U.S. That provides another important benefit, he said: “You can compare your results to other cities.”
Burkett also responded to criticism that the two surveys, which are costing the city approximately $15,000 each, are too expensive or could have been handled by a local firm.
He noted, “Our budget is $20 million (annually). We want to make sure we’re spending that money the way it should be spent.”
He estimated that to ensure they gather the promised number of responses, ETC may send out as many as a thousand of each survey. The surveys will be mailed to a randomly chosen list of local residents.
Parks and Recreation
Burkett said the city council decided a year ago to evaluate options to improve the city’s parks and the new “parks, trails, open space and recreation” survey is a step in that direction. The survey results will be compiled into a “needs analysis” that will help determine what citizens within and outside of the city want, and what they will support financially.
“We need to know how many people really use tennis courts,” Burkett said, providing one example.
Burkett also said he anticipates that more and better walking and biking paths will be the top priority for respondents.
The parks and recreation survey also will test the waters for creating either a formal City of Sequim Parks and Recreation Department or create a metro park district.
The metro parks district could either be located solely within the city’s borders or extend into the county, thereby extending the tax base for supporting any needed improvements. He noted the 6,000 citizens of Sequim now provide recreational opportunities for approximately 20,000 Clallam County residents.
“If they’re pretty happy with the status quo, we probably won’t do anything,” Burkett said. “If they have needs but won’t spend, then it’s probably an idea whose time hasn’t come.”
How are we doing?
The “Sequim Community Survey” primarily seeks to determine the satisfaction of local citizens with services provided by the city, from code enforcement to police services to the “level of traffic congestion.”
But it also includes a few questions regarding satisfaction with the quality of life in Sequim, and how well the city is managing its finances.
Finally, the community survey also asks for priorities on “potential capital improvement projects,” including additional pathways and sidewalks, improvements to the storm water system and perhaps the construction of “a new city hall for better customer service.”
Neither survey is brief. Both are multiple pages and both are anticipated to take between 10-15 minutes to complete.
Reach Mark Couhig at firstname.lastname@example.org.