Sidebar Middletown's Plan of Development

CHAPTER 2

HOW DO MIDDLETOWN CITIZENS FEEL ABOUT THEIR CITY?

In July of 1989, 3057 surveys were sent to households of registered voters throughout the City of Middletown. The purpose of the survey was to document public attitudes, for this Plan of Development, toward the problems and prospects concerning future growth and other issues pertinent to the Plan of Development. More specifically, the survey asked for citizen input regarding choices and priorities concerning housing, the local economy, recreation, open space, urban problems, safety, traffic, community facilities, environmental concerns and neighborhood improvement. The Planning Department considers the survey results to be a strong and meaningful statement from the citizenry regarding efforts to formulate a future direction for the City.

A total of 949 or 32% of the surveys were returned within the next month. By any statistical measure a citywide return of 32% is indeed impressive. It shows that the people of Middletown have a genuine interest in helping to shape their communities future.

The entire survey, which display the preferences among the various voting districts, is available in Appendix I of this Plan.

WHO RESPONDED TO THE SURVEY? AGE DISTRIBUTION
18-30 16%
31-45 31%
46-64 25%
65-UP 30%

The majority of respondents (54%) lived in single family homes with 33% living in apartments and 13% in condominiums.

When asked where the respondents worked, 49% indicated in Middletown, 40% indicated outside of the City and 11% indicated retired.

The average household size in the City was 2.5 persons per household. This figure is the same as the average household size for the City in the 1980 U.S. Census of the Population. This figure strongly supports the Planning and Zoning Department population estimates for 1990 and beyond, which are included in the population chapter of this plan.

THE SURVEY FINDINGS

The majority of the information coming from the survey will be particularly useful in the Community Facilitates and Capital Improvements portion of the Plan of Development.

The following highlights were especially useful, to the Planning staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission, in formulating goals, objectives and recommendations for this Plan of Development.

  1. The overwhelming majority (88%) of respondents are quite satisfied with their dwelling unit and their neighborhood.
  2. Sixty percent of those responding to the survey agree that the town should increase the supply of low and moderate income housing.
  3. It appears that multi-family dwellings should be dispersed throughout the City. But, the comments to this question suggest that the City should avoid increasing residential densities.
  4. The majority (61%) of respondents felt that Middletown should actively pursue further Commercial and Industrial development. Respondents clearly recognize the importance of the Commercial and Industrial portion of the City’s tax base.
  5. Air quality and solid waste disposal are the most important environmental issues here in the City.
  6. More open space land acquisition, dispersed throughout the community, is strongly desired. (81%)
  7. The majority of respondents are in favor of the establishment of bicycle (70%), hiking (65%) and jogging trails (64%).
  8. A slight majority of the respondents (55%) were opposed to the development of a municipal golf course by the City. This is most likely the result of the respondents taking into consideration the tax consequences of such a large municipal project.
  9. A majority of respondents (61%) would like to go places in the City at night but do not because they would not feel safe. The majority of respondents indicated that these places were downtown, particularly the north end and the Harbor Park area.
  10. The majority of respondents shop for food (81%) in the City and for clothing (66%) outside of the City.
  11. There is a large consensus (72%) that the library is an excellent and frequently used facility. In the final three questions, discussed below, citizens were asked to write in their comments. Due to the fact that the comments were so varied, no true numerical or statistical analysis would be valid or useful. But, nevertheless, the reoccurring comments and suggestions are quite interesting and may prove useful in privatizing particular projects and future policies. The comments to these questions are in no particular order.
  12. When asked “What new programs and facilities would you like to see in Middletown?” the most common responses among those who responded, were as follows:
    • More Library parking
    • Preschool programs
    • Teen activities
    • Adult recreation
    • Movie Theater in CBD
    • More playgrounds
    • Better ice skating area
    • Road improvements
    • Development Moratoria
    • Art programs
    • Dane programs
    • More tennis courts
    • Improved recycling
    • Improved park maintenance
  13. When asked “How can the City improve its appearance?” the reoccurring improvements, from those who responded to this question were as follows:
    • Remove vagrants from CBD
    • Remove soup kitchen from CBD
    • Clean up CBD
    • Increase tree plantings
    • Clean up riverfront
    • Address north end problems
    • Move soup kitchen to CVH
    • More flowerbeds citywide
    • Improve public housing areas
    • Improve access to the river
    • Widen Route 66
    • More open space
    • Less multi-family developments
  14. When asked other than price why would you not shop in downtown Middletown, the majority of those responding to this question indicated that a lack of variety was the major reason why they would not shop in the downtown area. The other reoccurring reasons for not shopping in the downtown were as follows:
    • Parking
    • Traffic congestion
    • Vagrants
    • Lack of quality stores
    • Unsafe feeling
    • Lack of a true department store
    • Not convenient

HOW THE UPDATED PLAN OF DEVELOPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS REFLECT THE RESULTS OF THE PLANNING AND ZONING SURVEY OF CITIZENS?

This updated Plan of Development for the year 2000 is designed to reflect the public preferences expressed through the survey.

There is an emphasis on issues concerning air quality and the plan contains several new chapters and sections. These new chapters and sections include, to mention a few, a housing affordability section, an aggressive economic development chapter with commercial area studies and also natural resource and open space chapters which recognize and recommend the conservation of valuable natural resource areas.

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