Guest Commentary By Robert T. Wood
The Daily Star
---- — The Town of Oneonta conducted a survey of town residents during February and March of this year.
The survey was conducted by JZ Analytics. Thirty eight hundred surveys were mailed to registered voters and property owners. There were 986 responses or about 25 percent, nearly double what JZ Analytics would have typically expected. The complete results may be found on the Town of Oneonta website at www.townofoneonta.org.
The survey indicated that generally town residents are satisfied with the quality of services provided and they are happy to live here. They want to balance the quiet, rural way of life we have with additional commercial development and environmentally sound practices.
• 83 percent would like the town to grow or remain the same in terms of population. 70 percent would like more commercial development. 77 percent would like that development to occur within existing zones. 140 respondents said the West End was the preferred area followed by 138 preferring commercial areas in general, and 124 wanting more growth on Southside.
• 59 percent would like to see industrial development. 64 percent would like that to be within existing zones. The most widely selected areas are West End 58, Industrial Park 53, Pony Farm Rd 48, within existing zone 47, and anywhere 42.
When asked about expansion of water and sewer 44 percent want us to expand services, 32 percent stay the same, and 23 percent were not sure. Areas to be considered for expansion were: Southside 100 percent, West End 49 percent, everywhere 35 percent, and East End 30 percent.
Looking at recreation residents wanted to see more opportunities developed. By ranking they are:
• Walking paths: 73 percent.
• Bike trails: 67 percent.
• Cross-county trails: 56 percent.
• Ice skating: 39 percent.
In order to develop these items, 64 percent felt they should be paid for with a combination of public and private funding.
When asked about financially supporting the soccer fields at the former Soccer Hall of Fame 50 percent said no, 26 percent said yes and 24 percent were not sure.
Town residents did not support a merger with the City of Oneonta with 56 percent opposing, 23 percent supporting and 21 percent not sure.
62 percent did not want the town to fund the Oneonta Airport but 73 percent do support funding the Huntington Library. Only eight percent of town residents said they use public transportation.
Environmental protection was an area residents questioned. 49 percent were satisfied with current regulations, 29 percent were not, and 22 percent are not sure.
60 percent think the town and the city should work together to protect the reservoir.
Gas drilling has been a hot button issue. 67 percent of respondents are not in favor of drilling, 20 percent are and 13 percent are not sure.
72 percent do not want to see drilling anywhere in the town. The survey indicated that people were more accepting of commercial solar energy, with support from 72 percent of respondents. Commercial wind got 70 percent, and commercial bio-fuel had 53 percent support.
Generally people expressed satisfaction with town services. 85 percent said they were satisfied with fire protection; 84 percent with snow removal; 72 percent with law enforcement; 68 percent with road maintenance; 49 percent with environmental protection; 40 percent with affordable housing and 31 percent with economic development.
Two areas had responses that did not show a majority. John Zogby suggested that reasons for this are typically a lack of knowledge or genuine split in opinions. The idea of a road-use agreement garnered 33 percent yes, 24 percent no and 43 percent not sure. It seems that perhaps people need more information about road-use agreements.
The other issue was financial support of law enforcement. Funding constables was supported by 38 percent, police by 33 percent, sheriff 33 percent and not sure 33 percent. Since 72 percent reported being satisfied with law enforcement, it seems likely that we don’t need to change what we’re doing.
The Town of Oneonta Comprehensive Plan Committee has been reviewing this data and meeting regularly to update our comprehensive plan. The meetings are announced in the newspaper and on the town website. Please come to these meetings if you are interested in how our community will look in the future. Also please visit the town website for the complete survey results.
ROBERT T. WOOD is the Town of Oneonta Supervisor.