Housing, sidewalks and blighted properties are some of the top issues for Winfield residents, according to answers collected from a survey conducted in November.
Surveys were mailed to residents and were also available electronically on the city web site. The survey received more than 900 responses.
Some questions focused on future development. When asked if they would like more big box stores and chain restaurants, or locally owned businesses, over the next 20 years, 65.5 percent said they would like the local businesses.
Housing questions got a lot of feedback. Most residents said that there was an inadequate supply of low income housing, but and adequate amount of other types, including middle- and high-income.
As far as the quality of available housing, a majority of responders said the quality of low income housing is inadequate, but most other types of housing were of adequate quality.
More than half of responders, 56.9 percent, said the city should invest in encouraging new housing development.
On whether the city should increase efforts to encourage homeowners and landlords to maintain their properties, 91,9 percent of people said yes.
Regarding sidewalk construction, 50 percent said the cost should be shared by the city and property owners, while 47.4 percent said the city should take on the entire cost. Only 2.6 percent said the cost should be footed entirely by the property owner. A total of 69 percent of responders said they would support additional city funding for sidewalk improvements.
Responders also provided their own comments on the issues, which were collected by the city.
Answers for the number one improvement individuals would like to see in Winfield included a splash pad, more retail and restaurant options, more employment opportunities and affordable housing. Several people also said they would like to see lower taxes.
“I would like to see more of the downtown abandoned buildings come to life and to put businesses in our existing buildings instead of tearing them down,” one person wrote.
Another person said they would like “increased incentives for residents to repair homes, and increased enforcement for those that allow properties to become blighted.”
Of the people who completed the survey, 65.5 percent were female, 32.8 percent were male and the remainder preferred not to say.
When broken down by age, 10.8 percent of responders were age 19 to 29, 29.7 percent were 30 to 45, 32.3 percent were 46 to 65, 20.9 percent were 66 to 80, and 6 percent were older than 80. A total of 86.9 percent live within the Winfield city limits, and 13.2 percent live in the surrounding rural area.
In response to the answers, Winfield city manager Taggart Wall said officials are excited to start executing the goals of the community.
“We set out with a goal for the comprehensive plan that we would directly reach out to members of the community and involve them intimately in planning Winfield’s future. This questionnaire is a huge part of that strategy,” Wall said in an email. “With around a 20 percent response rate of our population, we ended up with a statistically significant result that is spread across different ages. In short, this means that we can feel pretty good that we are looking at an actual representation of the views that our customers and citizens hold.”
Wall said the questionnaire was designed to set priorities. When responses are aggregated, the city gets a good look at priorities as a whole.
The next step is to take the responses and run them through staff and focus groups. The responses will be critical as the city shapes policies for years to come, said Wall. In the final comprehensive plan document, he said, the priorities of Winfield will be set forth in short term and long term objectives.
“Ultimately, the City of Winfield cannot be all things to all people, so that means that some outcomes here must be achieved by others. Maybe some items will need to be addressed by businesses, others by civic groups and in some case certain items may not be addressed at all due to limitations and resource planning,” Wall said.
“Obviously, no one has a real appetite or expectations for extreme changes in tax structure, so we will need to implement these priorities into our existing book of business and operations when and where we can. But, we must improve and we must be a better Winfield if we have a desire to grow and thrive in the future,” Wall said.