By KAROLYN GEPHART
Downtown Friendswood has been a topic of conversation all over town recently. Input is being collected from all ages, businesses, residents, students and more to give landscape architects from Lauren Griffith Associates an idea of what the downtown area means to people and how they want to see it in the future.
The results are in and tallied of the recent online survey taken by anyone who had a connection to the downtown area and wanted to express their thoughts and ideas.
The Griffith group sent out 10,000 surveys and expected to get the normal amount of surveys returned as they have seen with other client cities.
What they didn’t expect was the number Friendswood turned in.
Griffith expected around 200 and received 1,132 responses.
“The Board is very pleased with the number of survey responses. Our consultant Lauren Griffith Associates said that we received a much higher response rate than she would have anticipated,” Ron Cox, president of the Friendswood Downtown Economic Development Corporation said.
The FDEDC retained the company to prepare a plan proposing and prioritizing improvements to the Downtown District.
In the survey, people who responded want more walkable development and destinations, better pedestrian accommodations, better pedestrian crossings, more trees, security lighting, underground utility wiring, and more dining and retail options.
Comments described Friendswood as small, quaint, family oriented, friendly and safe. Many mentioned the rich history of the city.
“The survey also reflected the prevailing sentiment heard in stakeholder meetings that what makes Friendswood special is its small town charm,” Griffith said. “After further exploration, we understood that what people mean by this is the friendly interactions they have and personal connections they develop with the businesses and people of downtown. We were pleasantly surprised to find that a relatively consistent response among participants of all ages. While not surprising, it is refreshing to see citizens express such love for a community.”
Griffith recently made a presentation to FDEDC with the survey results.
“Lauren will be studying the responses and forming her options for plans and projects to be included in the Downtown Improvement Plan. Once these are complete she will begin the first of three public meetings to show her preliminary plans and receive valuable comments,” Cox said. “The Board’s desire in this process was a large degree of public engagement. With the Stakeholders’ meetings, the on-line survey and the planned public meetings, it is hoped we will have accomplished that goal.”
Three public meetings will be scheduled.
According to Griffith, a great downtown area fosters community, reduces the necessity to travel out of town, provides an opportunity for groups to get together, attracts businesses and enhances Friendswood’s identity for potential residents.
“Our team is preparing exhibits for the first public meeting. We will present summaries of the information received so far from the survey and stakeholder meetings and share some preliminary ideas for Downtown District improvements for more feedback,” she said.