What matters most to Dearborn residents? Housing and retail, according to results from a series of workshops and an online survey on the direction of the city's master plan.
Results were released Tuesday in a summation meeting at the .
Overall, said Amy Chesnut of McKenna Associates, which is the company overseeing the master plan overhaul, the city received 1,100 responses to an online survey available to all residents on the subject. Four workshops held over the summer yielded 130 participants.
Participation was grossly skewed toward the west end, with no south end representation at the workshops or in the survey, and only 12 percent participation from the east end, though the neighborhoods that comprise that area account for roughly half of the city's residents.
Issues discussed, however, were widespread, ranging from what types of housing make up the "ideal" Dearborn neighborhood to issues surrounding business, retail, parking and walkability.
"Residents strongly believe, when we look at land use, that we need to preserve the character of areas," Chesnut explained.
That includes quelling what Chesnut said was the most hotly discussed issue across the board: rental housing.
"I know rental housing is an issue, but the amount of emphasis that was placed on it was surprising," she said, adding that many workshop attendees expressed that they do not feel the city is doing enough to enforce the upkeep of existing rentals, and that there are too many rental homes in the city.
"This was such a hot topic that the city isn't waiting for the master plan (completion) to address this," Chesnut added.
Here's a look at some of the other top suggestions gleaned from the workshops:
- Improve bicycle and pedestrian walkability
- Commuter rail
- Connectedness and visibility of the Henry Ford Museum
- Pedestrian and bike connections
- Keeping libraries open and encouraging other gathering places, such as coffee shops
- Creating a marketing campaign for Dearborn
- Clean neighborhoods
- (Tied) Preserve character of neighborhoods and encourage "green" housing
- Quality public education
- Enforcing codes and beautification
- Facilitate, but don't underwrite new business
- Free parking
Arts and Culture
- Promote the city as a visitor destination
- Bike and pedestrian paths to cultural destinations
- Reoccupancy of vacant space by artists
Survey results mirrored the workshops. Results suggested that residents love Dearborn for its nice neighborhoods, proximity to work and loved ones, city services and police and fire departments
However, residents also suggested that schools, retail sectors, enforcement of city codes and ordinances, as well as crime rates could stand to improve.
Economic and Community Development Director Barry Murray said the results of the survey and workshops "reaffirmed" the work the city is already doing.
"Most of the issues that came up are things I’ve heard before," he said, "so it was good to hear things reaffirmed–that issues we’re addressing are ones that are being discussed."
Murray also spoke to resident complaints about a lack of retail options in Dearborn, advising them to be patient while the city rebuilds its downtowns.
"To me, we’re already miles ahead of communities that don’t have a downtown," he said. "We have two of them, so we have a lot to go on."