Community Survey Results Announced
As part of the current comprehensive planning process, the Cicero-Jackson Township Plan Commission asked community residents and business owners to complete a survey earlier this fall. The results are in and will be used to help guide the future of the community. The response rate to the Survey Monkey questionnaire (available both on-line and on paper) was extremely high, with over 300 individual responses. With a 2010 Census population of 7,977 for the planning area (Jackson Township including Cicero, but excluding Arcadia and Atlanta which are not part of the same planning area), the 315 people who completed the survey equal almost 4% of the planning area’s population.
“A plan is a better fit when it is based on abundant community input”, said K.K. Gerhart-Fritz, the Town and township’s planning consultant. “This is probably the most significant public input the plan will receive, because it represents more people than would normally come to a public meeting.” Over half of the survey respondents have lived here more than 10 years and over half (50.9%) also said that quality of life was a main reason for living in Cicero/Jackson Township. Since they could choose more than one reason, over one-third also said the school system (39.5%), Morse Reservoir (36.4%), rural setting (34.7%) and/or family (33.3%). Low taxes got the least amount of votes for a reason to live in Cicero/Jackson Township, selected by just over 10% of the respondents.
Most people felt that the slow rate of growth in the past 5 years had been just right, but the majority did want to see more single family and senior citizen residential development and more retail and commercial uses in the community’s future. The schools were considered the most important service, with fire and police protection close behind. Respondents were almost equally divided over whether they would be willing to pay more taxes or fees for additional municipal services or amenities.
Preserving the lake shoreline and water quality was identified as the most important goal (63.3% selecting it as “very important” and 28% as “important”), from a list of 14 different choices. It was followed by “fostering a thriving downtown” and “developing sidewalks and walking/biking trails”. Increasing efforts to beautify downtown, town gateways and major thoroughfares and preserving the historic character of the community also scored very high.
People were the least interested in annexation (expanding the town’s corporate boundaries); one-third did not have an opinion about it, while another one-third did not consider it an important goal. As one anonymous survey respondent said, ““I think that Cicero is a great place to live. People care about each other and take care of each other. I wouldn’t want growth to change that.”
Cicero Parks is also engaged in updating their Parks Master Plan, and had several parks-related questions on the community survey. Park cleanliness was rated very high and respondents also expressed an interest in the department beginning to offer park programs and services. Providing connecting trails with Noblesville and Hamilton County and improving the quality of local sidewalks and biking facilities were selected as the highest priority for recreation over the coming years.
The town and the township will continue to cooperate in developing a new comprehensive plan that will look 20 – 25 years into the future. Comprehensive plans are the primary tool for communities to guide future development, but Cicero and Jackson Township’s current plan is outdated and lacks an implementation strategy. The plan’s steering committee, which includes residents, local business representatives, farmers and local officials, will use the results of the survey to guide development of the plan. In addition to this survey, watch for other opportunities for public input, including an upcoming series of focus groups.