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2020 Plan focus group gives feedback on citywide survey

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The Brentwood 2020 Plan survey was dissected question by question last night with the help of 28 volunteers at the FiftyForward Martin Center on Heritage Road. The focus group was comprised of Brentwood residents nominated by city commissioners and randomly selected registered voters to determine the clarity of the survey.

“The city commissioners, Mr. Bednar and I live and breathe this survey, and you’ve been brought here today to help us make sure if the questions are the right questions, and if they are easy to understand,” Assistant City Planner Jay Evans announced to the participants.

The survey is intended to garner feedback and information to be incorporated in the comprehensive plan for the growth and development of the city.

“We worked with the consulting firm MIG to formulate a survey that willl be able to identify Brentwood residents’ priorities for the city’s future,” Evans said.

The focus group was given a draft of the survey and instructed to answer the questions surrounding major policy directions. Evans reminded the group that while their responses are important for the finalized survey, the main purpose of the meeting was to calculate the coherence of the questionnaire.

“We need to know more what you think about the questions, rather than your answer to the questions,” Evans said.

After volunteers put their pencils down, the floor was open to initial thoughts on the flow and focus of the survey. One of the first major issues the group encountered was the lack of questions revolving around the school system.

“You can’t do a valid 2020 survey without asking about schools,” Tamala Soltis, resident of Brentwood, said.
“The survey focused on development issues, but development affects school rezoning. Anytime you have high density development it brings new residents which forces rezoning of schools. And that's why we move to Brentwood, for the schools.”

Evans responded that the survey operated within the limitations of the city.

“There are no Brentwood schools, they are all under Williamson County. We didn’t include school specific questions because we felt it was outside of our means as a city,” Evans responded.

The suggestions and issues raised by volunteers were noted by city planners and will be discussed within the week as city officials work toward a finalized draft.

Much of the discussion was concerned with the wording and meaning of the survey's Commercial Development section. During a previous survey workshop, city commissioners spent hours tinkering with the phrasing of future downtown development.

“The focus is all about the zoning of commercial and residential areas. I think it's a carry over of the Tapestry and what happened there. The questions need to be more clear,” Mike Sheehan said.

Sheehan and others noted the need for revisions to that section of the questionnaire.

City Commissioner Anne Dunn said she thought the meeting went "really well."

“They honed in on questions we ourselves found difficulty with. Some parts definitely need a closer look,” Dunn said.

Overall, the groups’ comments were constructive in clearing up areas of ambiguity as city commissioners plan to finalize the survey. Once revised, one copy will be sent to each household within the first or second week of February or can be completed online.

Results will be sent anonymously to the consulting firm in Kansas City, who will then draft a second, more in-depth survey that concentrates in the areas found to be most important to Brentwood residents.

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