On March 22, the Town of South Bethany sent out 1,317 surveys to property owners, with a return due date of May 2, 2011.
“Back in 1999, the Town had done a survey, and this council and this mayor thought it was important that 10-plus years had passed and we had not thought about the town services and where they thought we should be going,” explained Mayor Jay Headman. “That’s where it all started, and we wanted to get their feedback.”
The Town received a total of 860 responses, close to a 65 percent return rate, with results indicating the needs of the townsfolk are being met, according to Headman.
“We were happy that the community took the time to take the survey, especially in a community where most of our residents are part-time or seasonal,” said Headman. “In most cases, they rated our services in the satisfied range.”
According to the survey, residents found the majority of the services provided by the town to be satisfactory. Of the 21 areas residents were requested to rate, such as canal maintenance, curbside recycling and town communications, 27 were rated “satisfied.”
“We did this survey for one reason — to get better in this town. We’re very pleased with our town. The people are very pleased with the town. But we’re not going to sit still; we’re going to focus on what we can do to make things better.”
Residents were “very satisfied” with the beach patrol, police department staff and trash removal within the town.
The only area rated as “unsatisfactory,” with a 3.32 rating, was for Mediacom cable service. The Town of South Bethany is currently in the process of renegotiating its franchise agreement with the cable provider, along with the Towns of Ocean View, Millville and Bethany Beach.
“The only thing that came down in an unsatisfied range was the Mediacom cable service, and they understand that, in a franchise, we don’t control that.”
The survey also requested residents rate 15 areas as to whether or not they would like new services or developments to be provided within the town.
Residents responded that they need only maintenance of dredged canals and a replenished beach. All other categories – including more street lights, additional walking and bike paths, and keeping town hall open during lunchtime in the summer – were rated as “not needed.”
“By the end of our review, we would’ve put in place things we would need to improve. That will be for the future town and current town,” said Headman. “For the future projects, the council will begin to look at those issues and making some determinations on what we will be doing as far as special projects... to make sure our beach gets replenished and to make sure our canals are clean and usable.”
Headman added that citizens had been asked not only to rate the town services but to also give written comments.
“We should be getting feedback – not just from a few people – but from all property owners. For instance, the lifeguard area – even though they were extremely pleased – there were some comments in those areas where we may or may not make modifications to improve. We can always get better.”
Headman said it was the Town’s hope to continue to open up communication with its residents so that the Town can continue to improve.
“We’ve tried to open up our meetings to provide more public comments in our workshops. So this was just another way or strategy that the council and the mayor have felt would open up that communication.”
For more information on the survey, visit www.southbethany.org or call (302) 539-3653.