Thousands have filled out a Board of Alders survey that asks New Haven residents for their input on issues faced by the city, according to Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12.
The survey, which the city released last September, and is still available online, asks residents to rank in order of importance different city initiatives, such as instituting community policing and building a new community center for the Dixwell neighborhood. It also leaves space for residents to identify the issues they see as the most pressing in their neighborhood as well as ways in which residents and city government can collaborate to tackle those problems. Eidelson did most of the work putting the survey together and overseeing its distribution to residents.
Alders will examine the survey’s results and, once compiled, act to address the desires of residents. Despite initial plans to have the results ready by January of this year, the city has not yet examined all the completed surveys, according to Eidelson. She said a team from the Office of Legislative Services, and several volunteers were in the process of analyzing the responses.
As city officials continue to go through completed surveys, many in the city worry about crime and a lack of employment opportunities in New Haven.
Micah Willoughby-Bufkin, who lives in New Haven, said he wished city government would do more to address violent crime. And Jason Stirpe, who lives on the west side of Chapel Street, also said gun violence concerned him.
“When I first came to New Haven, I heard gunshots all the time, and that was in the good parts of town,” Stirpe said. “But now I’ve begun hearing gunshots again, so I think it got better and then worse.”
On Friday, there were two separate shootings in New Haven. But although violent crime remains a problem in the city, the number of gun-related crimes in New Haven has fallen over the past several years.
In 2016, there were 13 homicides in New Haven and 67 nonfatal shootings, compared to 34 homicides and 133 nonfatal shootings in 2011. New Haven Police Department Spokesman David Hartman and Mayor Toni Harp have attributed much of this success in lowering violent crime to the NHPD’s community policing effort, which was one of the initiatives on the survey that residents were asked to evaluate.
Mike Stevenson, who lives near the city’s border with East Haven, said he believed police did a good job protecting his neighborhood. However, he added that it is ultimately the responsibility of the residents to make their neighborhoods safe and prosperous.
“People need to take care of their own community,” Stevenson said. “We don’t need the government to do that.”
And Christine Williams, another resident, said she hoped New Haven’s leadership would do more to stimulate the Elm City’s job market.
The city government has distributed the surveys at schools and other public places, as well as outside of polling places on Election Day. Residents can also access an electronic version of the survey, available via a link on the city’s website.