Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Community Character

What does an attractive City look like? It is an interesting question. I suppose, like with any other subjective measure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What I want in a City might be different than what you want, and what your neighbor wants may be totally different.

I asked the question because I was watching a movie the other night, with Ms Dover Planner, and a comment was made about how the city the movie was set in (Paris) is beautiful in the day and night, and especially in the rain. While I can't comment on any of those opinions, I liked the overall thought. Today it has snowed, and I felt, looking out the window, that it was an attractive snowy day. I am sure that when I leave to go home and the snow has turned that brownish gray color that dirty snow gets I'll reconsider. Is a community's beauty the same?

Do we like it when we are insulated from it (ie a visitor), but see it for the gritty reality it is when we live someplace?

I've probably said before that I always hear from friends of mine that moved here, how great Dover is, and how the people who grew up here don't see it for the place it truly is. We found similar suggestions in 2006 as part of the last Master Plan survey work. People who moved here within 5 years, which was a higher percentage than lifers, had a much more favorable opinion of Dover than the lifers.

Two questions jump to my mind. First, do people that move here feel it is better because they chose to come here, so maybe there is a desire to validate that choice? Second, what are those of us who have lived here for decades missing? What don't we see?

Dover residents were asked to participate in a citizen's survey in the summer of 2011. One of the results of that was that 84% of respondents reported that Dover has an overall quality of life rating of “excellent” or “good”. That is a very high number, in my mind. Respondents noted that they like the look and feel of Dover and that they enjoy the cleanliness of Dover. Interestingly the respondents were asked how long they have been residents and the two highest responding categories are those that have lived here 2 - 5 years and those 20+ years of residency.

This information is fun to play with and interesting to think about. The overall tie into it is that we are in the process of starting the Community Visioning components of the Master Plan. This is an update to work began in 2006. We have a committee in place, a consultant in place and some dates and times we will be holding public hearings. What we need is the public to speak. We will ask questions like, what do you think of your neighborhood, and what do you want to see it evolve to in 20 years. We will have plenty of notice for these sessions, which will begin in March and we hope to have a large turn out.

If you have suggestions of how we can get 200 (out of 30,000) people to attend these sessions, please feel free to comment here, on Facebook, or email me.

PS, I wanted to have a photo to go along with this entry, and when I Googled "Community Character images", most of the things I found were pictures of the TV show Community. There is a connection with this blog entry, somewhere, I am sure of that.

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