Survey says: Berryville residents participate in development project

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

"I love that I can walk to almost everything and that I can do so at any time day or night and feel safe -- yea! Berryville!" was just one example of the responses to the question "What do you love about Berryville?" on the recent survey the city of Berryville sent to area residents, and, of course, one respondent wrote, "Not a Single Thing." The survey was designed to get feedback from the community as part of the planning for an economic development strategic action plan.

The survey was the latest step in the process of developing a strategic action plan for economic development. According to the city's economic development director, Chris Claybaker, preliminary work has been underway over the past year at the direction of Mayor Tim McKinney, with assistance from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, the Winrock Foundation, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Berryville Chamber of Commerce.

"From the very first meeting we had, I've seen almost unanimous consensus from Berryville leadership, and then reinforced through the survey, that people want to see our community continue to grow and prosper but in an orderly and deliberate way," Claybaker said. "My take from the meetings we've had was that most understand that, if a community is not growing, it's dying. However, that said, they don't want growth to overshadow or change what makes Berryville special -- that hometown feel," he explained.

Claybaker said the process started in August 2015 and had reached the point where the project needed the involvement and input of citizens in the Berryville area. A four-question survey was sent out with the city water bills, Claybaker said, and an electronic survey was sent out through the chamber's email database.

"When we first started this program, we brought in an advisory board to discuss the community assets and a vision for Berryville's future. Subsequent meetings delved into goals, and the community survey is a continuation of those meetings," Claybaker said. "The survey provided citizens the opportunity to provide their input into the action plan and to move the discussion from a small group to a large group," he said. "It's interesting how the survey responses have matched up to the results of earlier meetings. It looks like we're all on the same page."

The city has received almost 200 responses. According to the mayor, it is one of the best responses to a survey he has seen.

"And we've read every comment and suggestion," McKinney said. "We've had some impressive responses. The overall feeling is that Berryville is a great town with friendly people and a friendly atmosphere, and people want us to maintain that feeling."

Claybaker said the action plan will be known as Berryville Works 2020 to capture the idea of a clear vision for the city's future.

"The name refers both to 20/20 vision and a future date to get across that idea," he said. "The message is that Berryville provides jobs and opportunities to its citizens and will continue to do so."

Dr. Mark Peterson, professor of community and economic development and member of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, helped design the community survey.

"Berryville Works 2020 is an initiative to develop a strategic plan of action for this community. This is for the future of the entire community, not just within the city limits," Peterson said. "The survey will help us set priorities and future direction."

Claybaker said the proposed vision statement for Berryville Works 2020 is "Berryville is a safe and economically stable, sustainable and diverse community that retains its rich heritage, its natural beauty and its sense of place."

The results of the survey are as follows:

Question 1 -- What do you love about

Berryville?

1) Small town, hometown feel/attitude and closeness (28)

2) Caring, friendly people (21)

3) The parks/community center/Luther Owens Shooting Range (15)

4) Low crime rate/safe (10)

5) Town square (7)

6) Shopping/retail (6)

7) Natural setting, trees, gentle hills/Ozarks (4)

8) Well run city government (4)

9) Good police department (4)

10) Perfect place to raise a family (4)

11) Progressive (3)

12) Good schools (3)

13) Good restaurants (3)

14) Jobs (3)

15) Churches (3)

16) No traffic congestion (3)

17) Clean air/low pollution/natural beauty (3)

18) Movie theater (3)

19) Murals (3)

20) New sidewalks (3)

21) The wildlife (2)

22) The library (2)

23) Senior center/activities (2)

24) Not a single thing (1)

25) Other (21)

Examples of Quotes

* "Berryville is growing, but still a small town and the rural living."

* "The friendly people, the mural restoration project, the fountains on the square, all our museums, we don't have many chain restaurants, the community center"

* "We have a beautiful city square. I love the painting they have done on the buildings. It has all the things and businesses we need. We also love George's Pond. It is very well maintained. We are also very fortunate to have such a nice community center. "

* "George's Pond and ducks -- not geese."

* "The people as a whole by the way they make you feel welcome."

* "Progressive, due to efforts of Mayor McKinney."

* "My 'importants' are within walking distance -- church, volunteer area, library, grocery. Good Wal-Mart is open all hours as you can shop anytime."

* "Close-knit community, caring people, town square, preservation of town's history."

* "The caring, friendly, helpful people. Jesus is represented in a big way. Local shopping, Hometown feel."

* "The kindness and friendliness of the citizens. I am disabled and almost never open a door or get something off a tall shelf. Almost always some nice person offers to help. Having been in other parts of our country that aren't friendly, I find Berryville refreshing. When you smile at someone in Wal-Mart, they smile back, not step back. "

* "I love that I can walk to almost everything and that I can do so at any time day or night and feel safe -- yea! Berryville!"

Question 2 -- What do you want to see preserved about Berryville?

1)Town square and buildings/historic buildings (64)
2)Small town atmosphere/Feel (33)
3)Local history (18)
4)Parks/community center (14)
5)Festivals -- ice cream social, lawn & garden show (14)
6)Location, close to big cities and recreational opportunities (12)
7)Public safety (10)
8)Nature/environment (9)
9)Museums (8)

10) Good schools (6)

11) Effective and efficient city government/services (5)

12) July 4th fireworks (4)

13) Saunders Heights (4)

14) Cemetery (2)

15) Pond (2)

16) Main theater (3)

17) Other (9)

Examples of Quotes

* "Small town environment, good schools, church going people."

* "Everything!"

* "Small town atmosphere. Community Center. Downtown Square, including the new sidewalks. Museums. Progressive Leadership. Location in the Ozarks -- such natural beauty all around."

* "As much as possible, but stay away from the historical register (look at Eureka!) It makes it too expensive for maintenance. "

* "Trees, clean air, sense of community, peacefulness, good community relations, diversity

* "MayBerry Village along with updated services."

* "I hope they keep the old hotel in good condition. It's a beautiful building."

* "Cleanliness of our streets and infrastructure."

* "The square is about the only thing Berryville has going for it."

* "The safety for our children. I grew up here feeling extremely safe and I want the same for my daughter."

* "Small town friendly way of life. Local businesses prospering."

* "Sidewalk on east side of town."

* "Small home town flavor, craft fairs, ice cream social, lawn and garden show."

* "Our cemetery and land designated for future use respected."

* "Our history, the town square."

* "City square, city park, murals."

* "Would like to see the square put back into place -- no highway through it, buildings on square."

"Its nature, the square."

* "The pride that everyone has in this town. I moved here in 1994. Just passing through, it was the people that made me stay."

Question 3 -- What would you like to see improved about Berryville?

1)Cleanup/enforcement of unsightly property (24)

2) Public square (12)

3) Sidewalks (11)

4) Attract doctors and specialty practices (8)

5) Parks (8)

6) More retail shops/grocery stores (6)

7) Lodging/restaurants (6)

8) More activities for adults/family/youth (6)

9) Alcohol sales (6)

10) Walking/bike trails (5)

11) Library (5)

12) Illegal drugs/drug abuse (5)

13) Rural water (2)

14) Other (12)

Examples of Quotes

* "Streets and sidewalks. 21 North has lots of additions going out of town. There are people and lots of children who would benefit to be able to walk or ride bikes into town. At least from Stubbs to the ballfields. 'Still in Berryville.' Sidewalks should be there."

* "Have a motto for the town to make people aware that city officials are interested in putting their best foot forward regarding the appearance of the town in which they serve. The motto could be 'LET'S BEAUTIFY BERRYVILLE.' Let's make this town one that people are proud to live/work in."

* "Crosswalks across 62 on the square (I know... DOT.) I would have said sidewalks on the square (but you're doing a great job of that.)"

* "All of our city streets, they are needing a lot of repair, a lot of potholes. Enforce curfew better also, too many kids walking the street at night."

* "Homes and properties cleaned up, more job variety."

* "Not sure."

* "More flowers on the square. Benches on the trail by the community center. "

* "The marketing for the area."

* "Walking trails inside the city."

* "More new sidewalks, walking and bike trails. Renovation of all store fronts on the square."

* "Would like a Lowe's and a steak house. Better upkeep of streets."

* "Schools, roads, and the square. Improve the environment."

* "Bring back youth in churches. Always promote jobs of diversity."

* "Harter House Market."

* "More business moving into empty buildings."

* "Biking safety, traffic accommodations for safer walking. We really need more senior apartments that are not income based. Our seniors go to Fayetteville, Rogers, or Peachtree when most would prefer to stay here."

* "More grocery stores! People made to clean up their yard of trash and old cars! Fine them if they don't clean up their yards! A new mayor. More industry. We need a nice restaurant. Not any more Mexican restaurants!

* "Clean up of certain neighborhoods/ houses. More places to shop retail. More fast food restaurants, More housing to rent. "

* "Junky yards cleaned up. I know we don't have a lot of money, but it doesn't take much to be neat. "

* "Residential neighborhoods take on a better look."

"More jobs for people."

* "The lack of entertainment, the fairness in pageants and general life. If you do not have a specific last name you may as well not even bother; you won't be treated or judged fairly."

Question 4 -- Which words best describe the personality of Berryville.

Check all that apply:

* Small Town - 123

* Historic -- 96

* Down Home - 86

* Friendly - 83

* Rural living -- 82

* Family Oriented - 82

* Warm - 75

* Close to Nature - 71

* Welcoming - 68

* Close Community - 64

* Laid Back -64

* Scenic - 62

* Beautiful - 58

* Diverse - 56

* Hunting -- 53

* Outdoors - 53

* Arts & Crafts -- 48

* Stable - 48

* Charming - 44

* Eclectic -- 39

* Paradise - 38

* Conservative -35

* Sleepy -- 33

* Colorful - 31

* Progressive - 22

* Extrovert - 16

* Educated -- 12

* Stylish Green/Eco-Friendly - 10

* Convenient - 10

* Fun - 9

* Proactive - 6

* High-Tech - 4

* Breathtaking -- 4

* Introvert - 3

* Funky - 3

* Bold -- 2

* Exciting -- 2

* Sophisticated -- 2

Other (one vote each):

* Welcoming (NOT)

* Proactive (starting to be)

* Lacking variety

* Unmotivated

* Stinky (Tyson)

* Boring

* Closed minded

* Home

* BLAH

* Caring

* Mayberry-like

* KOOL

* Peaceful

* Bible Belt

* Faith friendly

* Very groovy place and people

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