By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
SOUTHBOROUGH – A survey of town residents showed satisfaction with schools and public safety services.
It cited dissatisfaction, however, with a lack of safe, accessible communal spaces and with the level of transparency provided by town leaders.
Volunteers Maryann and Brian Beauvais presented a summary of the town survey, which was created by the Municipal Technology Committee (MTC), to the Board of Selectmen on Jan. 4. A total of 423 residents representing between four and six percent of the town population responded, although only 51 percent of those respondents completed the entire survey.
The lower completion rate was attributed to the fact that the survey featured 157 questions.
Most respondents were white females between the ages of 35 and 54.
Without seeing the raw data and written comments for context, Board of Selectmen Chair Lisa Braccio said it was difficult to interpret the transparency and other feedback.
Vice Chair Chelsea Malinowski questioned the value of the summary pointing out “negative segments.”
She questioned if it was “productive,” and questioned how it aligned with the original intent when the MTC proposed a survey.
MTC Chair Matt Probst said the questions were modeled after ones used by other towns and said the survey was “data driven.”
Probst said the MTC had partnered with the police and fire departments and public works to contribute questions.
He added that 230 people had fully completed the survey, which featured five to 10 “free responses,” that the board could go back and read in their original form.
Malinowski said the capital and master plan committees should have been consulted in this process.
In the survey, respondents said there are not enough businesses in towns, and they would like to see more dining and grocery options.
Also, in addition to “non-transparency,” respondents said there is a lack of “diverse” leadership, poor walkability, inadequate public recreational facilities for adults, drainage issues and more.
One answer noted that sidewalks on Newton Street, Cordaville Road by Route 30, Deerfoot Road and Flagg Road should be priorities.
Maryann Beauvais pointed out that the respondents were given the chance to rank a list of projects furnished by the DPW itself.
Malinowski responded that it is not a complete reflection of needs because the list does not prioritize all capital items across the town.
She said with “some inconsistencies,” they had to be careful how they used the data.
Selectman Martin Healey said, “All information is good information,” and he thanked the volunteers for their work.
Probst said the MTC would be looking into creating shorter surveys in the future and making them more interactive. By putting more technology into place, he said, they would be able to get immediate feedback.