Above: Photo by Ian Iannuccilli.
East Greenwich News ran a survey from Nov. 18 to Dec. 8 as a followup to the EG Today & Tomorrow forum at the Odeum Nov. 18. The survey was brief, just five questions, and more than 300 people completed it, 85 percent identifying themselves as residents (5 percent said they were members of the EG business community; the rest marked “other.”) The results are below.
The primary thrust of the answers will come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent much time living or working in East Greenwich – by a wide margin, respondents said schools were the town’s most valuable asset (42 percent), followed by Main Street* (22 percent). Perhaps more surprising, “our location within the state” ranked third, with 14 percent.
A few respondents were frustrated that they could only choose one, saying they felt strongly that schools and Main Street were important. (Survey design is something of an art. EG News will be taking lessons from this one!)
The next question, “What is the biggest challenge facing the town?” brought schools and property taxes into juxtaposition, with “maintaining and improving the quality of our schools” edging out “property taxes” by 3 percentage points (36 percent to 33 percent). “Keeping businesses in East Greenwich” came in third, with 25 percent.
The most popular response to “What is something you wish EG had?” was “more downtown parking” (27 percent, or 83 people). No surprise. But the response that came in second was “underground power lines.” As the survey designer, I’ll admit I was thinking about the Main Street power lines, but I wonder now if some of 65 people (21 percent) of people who put that as their number 1 desire for East Greenwich may well have been thinking about their own neighborhoods, with the experience of recent power outages across town because of downed tree limbs.
Coming in third in the wish category was better access to the waterfront, with 17 percent. East Greenwich may have gained in safety when train grade crossings were eliminated back in the mid-1900s, but it lost plentiful easy access to the waterfront.
Schools (“excellent schools” to be exact) came in first again on the final substantive question of the survey: “What is it you want to preserve about East Greenwich?” with 36 percent, but as mirrored in the first question, “vibrant downtown” came in second with 31 percent. Ranking third was “sense of community” at 20 percent.
Respondents offered plenty of additional comments, everything from “It’s a great town – don’t mess it up!” to “EG has gotten expensive and has forgotten its heritage.” You can find the results and all the comments here: EG T&T 2019 Survey Results.
If you did not take the survey and have something to add, leave a comment. We hope to provide more forums going forward – if you have a topic idea for one of those, share that too!
*We used “Main Street” instead of “downtown” for no particular reason and we suspect most respondents would consider the two terms interchangeable.