The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 8, 2009

Selectmen given preliminary results of Town Needs Survey

Jim Elgin and John Ballantine, members of the Town Needs Survey Committee, presented preliminary results from the recent town-wide survey at the Selectmen’s meeting last month. The survey objectives were to determine community needs and priorities for future services, with a focus on seniors. The committee plans to release a detailed report after data analysis is complete.

The high 44% response rate, with 1,755 townspeople participating, will enable cross-tabulation of responses between various groups. The only group in town under-represented in the survey came from the 21-29 age group, primarily representing individuals still registered as living with their parents rather than as heads of households. The 60-69 age group posted the best response rate with 69% of its members filling out surveys.

The committee will continue to meet with town boards and other groups to discuss survey data and solicit input. Data analysis will continue as will examination of the comments submitted by survey respondents. However, the collection of data has ended, and although surveys continue to trickle in, these are not being compiled in the results. Besides Ballantine and Elgin, committee members include Alan Cameron, Verna Gilbert, Kathy Mull and Camelia Rosca.

Some of the preliminary results are listed below, with data rounded to the nearest percent.

Quality of life. Almost everyone rated their quality of life in town as either “excellent” or “good.” A majority of respondents, 54%, rated living in town as “excellent” while 42% rated their experience “good.” Primary factors identified were “rural nature,” “friends and acquaintances,” “services,” and the “availability of medical care.” The largest negative aspect of living in town, according to 63% of respondents, consisted of the “cost of living.”

Income. The median income for respondents is $160, 000, with 65% of the 30-39 respondents reporting over $160,000 a year.

Plans to leave. The largest respondent group, 32%, reported being undecided on whether or not they will remain in Carlisle. The next largest group, 28%, reported that it does not plan to leave. Reasons for leaving town included when children go to high school (2%), to college (6%) or leave home (6%). Reasons for older people to leave included retirement (11%), inability to live at home (10%) and inability to drive (6%).

Housing. Most residents, 82%, reported being “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their current housing. However, 41% also felt the town should have more housing options. These would impact the decision to stay in town and included the availability of small, private residences (53%) and condos (46%).

Health. Sixty percent of respondents rated their health as very good, and 85% of participants felt area hospitals met or exceeded their inpatient needs.

Exercise. Respondents reported exercise as “very important” (48%) and exercised “most days” (40%).

Socialization. Most participants in the survey get together with others weekly (32%) or a couple of times a week (21%). Only a small number reported socializing rarely (10%) or never (1%).

Activities. Visiting the Gleason Library was a popular activity for 63% of respondents. Other popular activities include culture (34%), civic volunteering (28%), town social events (26%), school groups (25%), town recreation (25%) and church groups (20%).

Public transportation. Asked if they would use public transportation if it became available in Carlisle, 11% of respondents said it was “very likely”, 19% said it was “likely”, and 38% said they might “possibly” use it. The most desired locations included the airport (55%), MBTA (54%), and Concord (47%).

Town participation. Most respondents vote in Town Elections (85%) and attend Town Meeting often (27%) or occasionally (32%). Nearly one in five (17%) participate on town boards and committees.

Town spending. The greatest number of respondents felt the town spends money wisely “most of the time” (46%).

Trust. The largest group of survey participants felt people can be trusted (35%). Groups trusted the most in town included the police (84%), neighbors (64%) and town volunteers (46%). Government officials fared less well in terms of being “trusted a lot”: town boards/committees (29%), national government (7%) and state government (6%).

Improving town life. Most respondents (58%) provided written comments on ways to make the town a better place. Preliminary categorization shows the three most common themes were: reduction and control of taxes (25%); addition of a gathering place/pub/restaurant (11%); and protection of open space and rural character (10%).

Selectman Chairman Doug Stevenson concluded, “We have a lot of happy people, and we should make sure we don’t make them unhappy.” ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito