Residents across New Haven have been responding to a Board of Alders survey seeking input on problems confronting the city.
The first half of the survey, which was released by the alders earlier this year, asks residents to rank city government initiatives, such as community policing, the Q House community center in Dixwell and a new online database of New Haven after-school programs, in order of importance. The second half of the survey asks respondents to rank problems in the city, including public safety, environmental justice, racial justice and the availability of good jobs, in order of most to least pressing. Residents also are given space to write about the issues most important to them, how the city should address those concerns and what respondents are willing to do to help.
City spokesman Laurence Grotheer said resident volunteers stationed outside of polling stations collected in-person survey responses on Election Day. According to Ward 4 Alder Evelyn Rodriguez, alders and volunteers also are knocking on doors in their communities to gather responses and have been advertising the online version of the survey. Rodriguez added that results are still coming in and have not yet been analyzed, but that the alders hope to compile and examine responses no later than the first week of December.
Efforts to raise awareness about the survey have resulted in some success. Ward 29 Alder Brian Wingate said he does not know how many people have responded, but he estimates it could be in the thousands. He added that in his ward alone, 450 residents have already taken the survey.
Elm City resident Shana McLene said she had not completed the survey, but that she heard about it through her coworkers. “About 10” of her acquaintances have filled it out, she estimated. Adelyn Garcia, a student at Wilbur Cross High School, said she filled the survey out at school, after a student volunteering for the alders gave her one.
But many people are still unaware of the survey. Five of the seven residents interviewed said they had not heard of it and alders and volunteers had not approached them about it. Only one of the seven — Garcia — had filled out the survey, and she indicated that only about 20 or 30 students at her high school had done the same.
But residents interviewed — who were all waiting for buses near the New Haven Green — believed that the Elm City had major problems to address. Four cited homelessness as one of the city’s most pressing problems. Britton Rogers, a teacher in the Architecture School and resident of the Wooster Square neighborhood since 2008, said, not only homelessness, but the effects that accompany it cause problems.
“The real problem is that people stuck here for drug treatment loiter out on the Green drinking, doing drugs and trading drugs,” he said. “The city needs to take care of that, whether its through policing or making transit faster.”
Some people stay on the Green longer than they need to while they wait for buses, he explained.
Other residents stressed the importance of social and environmental issues. Michael Doty, a Fair Haven resident, said the city should to do more to create “hang out places” for the youth, so that they don’t spend their time hanging out on the streets instead. Garcia said city government should also raise awareness about dangers to the environment, like global warming.
Wingate said he is grateful that the survey allowed the alders to “hear the people.” He added that the city conducted a similar survey in 2011, which led the Board of Alders to start initiatives, such as community policing, the New Haven Works job pipeline and the restoration of the Q House. These initiatives, especially community policing, have been largely successful, Wingate said, citing the marked drop in homicides since the policy was instated in 2011.
“With our community policing, our cops are out in the neighborhood, talking to their neighbors, and we have some great officers that are homegrown,” Wingate said. “In other cities, they’re just in their cars; they don’t interact with community members.”
The survey can be accessed online at Bit.ly/BoASurvey.