Please indicate if you agree or disagree with the following statement: “If someone asked for directions, I would stop to help.”
That is just one of the questions on the first-ever New Haven Neighborhood Quality of Life survey that was posted online in late January, and so far has drawn roughly 1,000 responses, said Douglas Hausladen ’04, one of the survey’s creators. Judging from those responses, Hausladen said residents want the city’s streets to be safer for pedestrians, more urban landscaping and more community centers for the youth.
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Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead said while the survey is a good way for residents to voice their concerns about their community, he does not expect the results to influence city policy.
The survey, originally only available online, is now being distributed in paper form and residents can ask for it to be delivered to their homes. Hausladen said he is funding the survey project and has already paid $250 out-of-pocket for photocopies of the survey.
Anyone can take the survey and New Haven community organizations will use the results to allocate grants to different organizations in their communities, said Lisa Hopkins, a member of the Dixwell Community Management Team. She said the survey will help the organizations understand what activities and services people want in their neighborhoods.
Still the survey is not without flaws, Hausladen said. He explained that not all of the data can be used because sometimes people don’t answer all the questions, sometimes they don’t answer the question that was asked and sometimes people fill it out more than once.
Mark Abraham, director of the non-profit organization DataHaven, is compiling the survey results and DataHaven will publish them online by the end of April. Abraham, a member of the Dixwell Community Management Team, said it is clear from the feedback on the survey received so far that people are interested in what their neighbors are saying about their neighborhoods and in identifying what aspects of their neighborhoods should be changed.
Chris Heitmann, a board member on the Westville-West Hills Community Management Team and Westville Village Renaissance Alliance, said the problems in the Westville area are vacant properties, speeding drivers and too few retailers . He said the survey will help the Alliance prioritize what issues to improve on.
“The survey is perfect since people do not have to leave their home to do it, can do it on their own schedule and can voice their concerns honestly,” said Whalley Avenue resident Madeline Neives, 56. She added that there is not enough participation from people in neighborhood meetings.
At the beginning the survey was intended only for residents of the Downtown-Wooster Square neighborhood, said Hausladen, who is also vice chairman of the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team. But after a number of other community management organizations expressed interest, he and Ken Gleasman, chairman of the Downtown-Wooster team, revised it so that it applied to the whole city, Hausladen said.
Data collection will stop in late March and DataHaven will publish the results of the survey by the end of April, Hausladen said.
Correction: Feb. 17, 2010
An earlier version of this article misreported the first name of Dixwell Community Management Team member Lisa Hopkins.