Otsego to survey residents

by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
Contributing writer

The Otsego City Council has decided to design a survey to receive resident feedback on a wide variety of city services.

The council met with city staff to discuss strategic planning and determined that pursuing many of their objectives just wasn’t possible without first knowing how the public felt about where the city stood and where it was headed.

“We could have the surveys on our website. We could do them multiple times of the year, if we choose. The online survey can even be printed and mailed for those who do not have internet access,” said City Administrator Lori Johnson.

The city is considering partnering with Survey Monkey, a low-cost online service that will host the survey, help design questions and even analyze results. Johnson said the service would cost the city around $300 a year.

One of the most probable topics is parks.

“Our city is known for having great parks and we want to keep it that way,” said Mayor Jessica Stockamp.

They discussed the importance of implementing new ideas, like the splash pad that was recently added to Prairie Park. The group also threw around the idea of a community garden space.

The group also considered what a proactive, as opposed to reactive, approach to code enforcement would be like. Typically, city officials use the reactive approach by responding to complaints of code violations, such as unmowed grass or junk cars on properties.

“I don’t think that everyone knows they can call in a complaint,” said Johnson, echoing others’ sentiments that some blighted properties go unreported.

Many at the meeting felt that a proactive approach where city employees seek out violations would help uphold the city’s positive image.

“If we want to keep property values high, this is part of how we do that,” said City Planner Dan Licht.

But many were wary that it could also require funding to staff such an initiative.

On the flip side, the council and staff were very interested in the idea of recognizing individuals in the community who are working to make it a better and more beautiful place.

Johnson suggested contests for best garden, best Christmas lights or most immaculate yard.

Mayor Stockamp proposed honoring hard-working volunteers.

“There are a number of people doing really good things in our city and they need to be recognized,” she said.

Other possible topics for the survey include public safety, customer service and snowplowing. The city hopes to have the survey up on its website and gathering data this winter.