WILMETTE – In its first step toward developing a new plan for the Wilmette lakefront, the Park District Board approved a contract with aQity Research to survey community households on this contentious issue. The contract will cost between $30,300 and $38,900, depending on the number of responses.
“I want to encourage all of the residents of Wilmette to participate in this survey,” said Commissioner Brian Abbott, noting that the survey is not just about good data. “This is how we are listening,” he said.
The Park District Board spent six years developing a lakefront master plan, only to be overwhelmingly shot down by voters in the April 2015 election. With the survey the Park District Board aims to better understand what community residents want going forward.
“We really are counting on this survey to give us a sense of what the community wants,” said Commissioner Ryrie Pellaton.
Described as a “hybrid format” by Commissioner Shelley Shelly, the survey will allow residents to respond by mail, online or over the phone. A full survey will be mailed to half of households, while the other half will receive a postcard directing them to an online survey, Commissioner Shelly explained. Residents who receive a postcard but wish to fill out a written survey, simply contact aQity to receive a full survey in the mail. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.
Jeff Andreasen, President of aQity told the board that a 20% response rate was typical in a survey of this scale. There are 10,000 households in the Wilmette Park District, and Andreasen estimated about 2,000 responses, adding that phones calls were a way to probe further into why residents feel the way they do.
Now that the survey has been approved, the Park District hopes to move quickly going forward and conduct the survey by mid-November. The next step is a public meeting with representatives from three community groups — Go Green, Save Wilmette Beaches and The Friends of Wilmette Beaches — which have each agreed to work with the Park District and aQity on developing the survey. Commissioner Shelley also noted that the Park District Board welcomes emails from anyone interested in offering ideas.
Andreasen told the board that if the survey conducted by mid-November, the boar should expect the results by mid to late January.