At a community visioning session for the future of downtown Wheaton last week, 85 residents answered a 30-question survey of their hopes for the area and opinions of its current condition.
Since the Tuesday meeting, about 200 to 300 people have responded to the online survey consulting firm Design Workshop will use to shape questions for the next visioning session Nov. 1. City officials hope at least 1,000 people take the survey before it closes at the end of October.
At a planning session Monday, Wheaton City Council members and city staff talked with Design Workshop consultant Britt Palmberg about residents' responses to the survey.
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Palmberg, who led the keypad polling session last week, said on a call Monday the community answers to the survey will help Design Workshop form alternatives for the next meeting. “This plan is pretty multi-faceted, so these questions are a little more general to figure out the preferences of the public,” he said.
Support for Public Spending
Palmberg said he was surprised to see people wanted to see sustainable landscape practices, and that a large percentage of responders said they would support public spending for the downtown plan. Of the 85 responders at the visioning session, 48 answered, “Downtown Wheaton is one of the community’s key assets. The City should prioritize funding on projects in this area.”
Twenty-eight of the 85 responders answered, “I would be in favor of investing in downtown, but only if a clear return on investment to the City is demonstrated.”
Resembling Other Downtowns
Palmberg said he was also surprised to see interest in being like other downtown areas, including Naperville and Geneva.
“In some respects, we can draw from things… but not try to replicate copies of other downtowns,” he said.
Councilwoman Jeanne Ives said people seemed to be satisfied with downtown Wheaton as it is, but want more retail and more reasons to go downtown to shop.
She added she received an email from a constituent who wrote the consultants did not understand the importance of the issue of flooding in downtown Wheaton.
Palmgren said while there is room for improvement in downtown Wheaton, “it’s not fundamentally in bad shape.”
He said the consultants will address flooding more in its alternative questions. “We got that loud and clear… People want us to address that,” he said.
Wheaton City Manager Don Rose said the flooding issue needs probing. “I think we need to dig into the flooding question a little more as to what the flooding issue is. Is it Main Street? Or something else? If it is, what is it?”
The next community visioning session will be Thursday, Nov. 1 at City Hall, 303 Wesley St., Wheaton.