Tyler Residents Will Get To Voice Opinions On Services, Planning
By JACQUE HILBURN-SIMMONS
Two thousand Tyler residents selected at random will receive a survey this week, seeking their opinions about city services and community planning.
The outreach is intended to glean public sentiment before launching efforts to create the first update of Tyler 21, a comprehensive plan for orderly growth and development, officials said Tuesday.
"We're doing this before the process starts," External Relations Director Susan Guthrie said. "We'd like people to fill it out and return it."
The plan calls for occasional updates so that the 500-page document remains relevant to the changing needs of the community.
Officials want to have survey results on hand before the process moves forward, Ms. Guthrie said.
Mayor Barbara Bass said almost five years have passed since the Tyler City Council adopted the plan, spearheaded by former Mayor Joey Seeber.
"Much has been accomplished toward implementation of the original goals; however, the plan calls for an update every five years to ensure it remains current and reflects the desires of the community," the mayor said in a prepared statement.
The cornerstone of the planning efforts is resident input, officials said.
Surveys going out this week take, on average, about 10 minutes to complete.
ETC Institute, an independent consulting company, is administering the survey. Data received will be compiled and the results presented to city leaders.
Individual responses will remain confidential, officials said.
Residents chosen to participate in the survey will receive an electronic voice message notifying them of their selection, and in some cases, follow-up telephone interviews.
"This survey is intended to 'take the temperature' of the community for a reading on the prevailing concerns on residents' minds," City Planner Heather Nick said.
The planning process behind the original Tyler 21 plan took more than 18 months to complete, primarily due to the extensive public involvement.
Input for the original Tyler 21 plan was collected through a community retreat, open houses and household survey.
In a separate but related effort, more than 100 volunteers worked in groups to hone in on key issues and strategies to address the long-term needs of the city.
Residents participating in those talks and surveys indicated a desire to protect the city's trees; revitalize older areas of town, namely the downtown area and the north end; improve traffic along the congested South Broadway Avenue corridor; provide more parks; protect neighborhoods; and create opportunities for affordable housing, records show.
Consequently, focus areas included in the original Tyler 21 plan center on revitalization, historic preservation, parks, recreation, housing, neighborhoods, business, transportation, circulation, public facilities, services and future land use.
Within the past five years, the city has taken steps to address those concerns, implementing projects ranging from the mayor's Tree Tyler Initiative to plant 5,000 trees within the next five years, to redevelopment of the city's historic downtown by adding attractions such as Liberty Hall and Gallery Main Street.
Other efforts centered on the demolition of substandard structures and creation of trails for bikes and pedestrians.
"With a comprehensive plan, we can ensure that every step we take in the future is in line with what our citizens want and what our future needs and opportunities will be," City Manager Mark McDaniel said.
Officials expect in the coming years to continue the original goals cited in the Tyler 21 plan and adopt new ones to pursue before the next update.