BOC hears master plan survey results

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo by Linda Gallagher

Sarah Lucas, the former director of community development at Networks Northwest, presented the Antrim County Board of Commissioners on June 19 with a summary of results from a public survey conducted to gather input on several proposed county facilities improvements and changes.

 

BELLAIRE – The Antrim County Board of Commissioners heard the results of a master plan survey conducted by Networks Northwest during its evening meeting of Thursday, June 19.

Sarah Lucas, former director of community development for Networks Northwest, who acted as facilitator of a public forum held in April to gather input on several proposed county facilities improvements and changes, summarized the 84-page document by saying that comments "ran the gamut" of possibilities, from making as few changes as possible to existing facilities to constructing an entire new county complex.

Disappointing to the Commissioners was the lack of Antrim County residents who responded to the public call for input, which included the thoughts of approximately 100 people who attended the public forum on April 23 as well as those who participated in an online survey conducted after the forum.

Despite what Lucas called "a great deal of exposure," only 183 residents, with the majority of those from Kearney and Forest Home townships, contributed to the survey.

"This is a very disappointing number of survey results," commented District 3 Commissioner Karen Bargy. "We need to move forward and know what direction we want to go, which is very hard to do with this."

Lucas, who recommended that the county consider a formal facilitator who could develop communications strategies regarding creating a vision for the county's future, said that a few common thoughts could be derived from the survey, such as concerns about the cost of any improvements.

"Someone who could create a matrix for evaluation would be helpful," she said.

"Cost was the most frequently cited concern in all of the comments we received," Lucas continued, adding that community development, parking and energy efficiency were also often mentioned in comments.

A fairly unified thought from most people responding was an interest in keeping the historic Antrim County courthouse, and in keeping the county's law enforcement facilities at its present location in downtown Bellaire. Many questioned the need for a new jail, with several comments that, if needed, a second story could be added to the existing jail, while some said they would like to see the entire law enforcement complex moved out of town.

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