The Town of Loxahatchee Groves is planning a visioning session on Saturday, Sept. 28 to gather input from residents on their perceptions and what direction they want the town to go in with its priorities.
A survey has been posted on the town’s web site. While it states that it closed on Sept. 8, responses are still being accepted, Councilwoman Laura Danowski said.
“The last I heard, it was going to remain open, but the moderator has given himself a cutoff date so he can compile preliminary data,” Danowski told the Town-Crier on Wednesday, adding that her top goal is to get residents involved.
Town Manager Jamie Titcomb said that the survey is generic in nature, but it has received much comment on social media.
“There was a sort of life of its own that developed around it, with people having concerns that it was being taken over by outsiders or special interests,” Titcomb told the Town-Crier on Wednesday. “The numbers and the priorities really don’t play that out.”
He said the preliminary results show that people’s responses to the survey revolve largely around the issues that have been discussed at recent meetings.
Danowski said some of the comments she has read on social media are negative, or that the town is wasting money on a survey.
“There are all of these negative comments being thrown out there because they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes,” she said, explaining that the town has compiled historical lists and corresponded with the town’s committee members, as well as current and former officials. “My end goal is for people to come together in a room and talk.”
Titcomb said the purpose of the survey is to give the facilitator a sense of magnitude of the issues being discussed and what’s on people’s minds.
“The purpose of the survey is to give the facilitator an orientation to the community conversation and help them in the facilitation and steering of the conversation in terms of a logistical aspects of the visioning session,” he said.
The visioning workshop on Sept. 28 will be held at the Palm Beach State College Loxahatchee Groves campus all day beginning at 8 a.m. Beforehand, residents are asked visit www.surveymonkey.ca/r/LoxSWOT to take a brief survey about their perceptions of the town’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The survey asks eight questions, most of which are open-ended.
Responses are anonymous and will be blended with other respondents’ answers to give the council insight for their discussion at the workshop. Residents are also encouraged to attend the workshop. Residents can ask questions about the survey and workshop by e-mailing moderator Kevin Knudson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions in the survey include whether the respondent is a resident, if they are on a committee or board, if they are an elected official or if they work for the town.
It also asks: What do you love most about the town? If you could change one thing right away, what would that be? What are the community’s strengths? What are the community’s weaknesses? What opportunities are available to the community? What are the threats to the community?
Next, the survey asks respondents to rank topics by their importance, including: roads/canals, land use/zoning, Southern Blvd. and Okeechobee Blvd. development, permitting and code enforcement, law enforcement, recreation and trails, town communications, solid waste/vegetation, water and environmental quality, equestrian, agritourism and community events.
Finally, the survey asks the respondent to rank their goals for public infrastructure investment.
Danowski said responses to her on social media include: “Why is the town wasting money on a survey?” “Do you mean to tell me that you don’t know that our roads are bad?” “Do you mean to tell me that you don’t know that we need drainage?”
“We know that, and these items are on our forefront, but we want to know what the rest of our residents have to say,” she said, explaining that the survey and visioning session seeks to compile data in an organized form. “I know we need to fix the roads,” she said. “We all know we need to deal with the drainage. Should we allow business overlays on Okeechobee Blvd.? Should we not allow business overlays?”
Titcomb said the visioning session will include a buffet breakfast and working lunch. “Both of those meals are being provided by a caterer,” he said. “They are donating the food cost and delivery of that for the community. The facilitator himself is at a greatly reduced [cost]. We were able to piggyback the fact that they were already engaged with some larger municipalities in the area. That way, we were able to avoid paying for travel and a lot of logistical costs.”