Community Survey Results Are In

Community Survey Results Are Inthumbnail
By
Published: May 17, 2015 @ 12:00 PM EDT

The results are in for the first Roselle Park News survey started last month. With 496 individual responses from unique users, the input by members of the community provided an insight into what they like about Roselle Park, what they would like to see, and what they perceive as important, not only for the downtown area, but the borough as a whole.

The nine questions also include information on the demographics of those who responded and offers insight to the general state of our one-square mile borough in 2015. Even those who responded with ‘other’ to several questions offered insight to various views from thoughtful to negative.

Starting out the survey, out of the five major choices available for what residents like most about Roselle Park, the major reason given – with 43% of respondents picking it – was that it is a safe community. The second reason given was a bit of a surprise with 35% answering that they liked that the borough is an easy commute to work  and other places. This is reiterated in later questions relating to mass transit. The third most picked reason, which has historically been named first or second, was the school district at 15%. Combined, these three aspects accounted for over 92% of responses.

A majority of the 31 other comments were ‘nothing’ as well as Roselle Park having a ‘small town feel’. There were those who pointed out specific aspects of the community like the Church of the Assumption or various business in town and even the library. Three comments that stood out were:

“Bought a home here in 1990 for safe community and good school system. Now children away at college and its [sic] not so safe anymore. The community has changed drastically in our 25 years here but what I still like is it’s a small close-knit community.”

“Modern Roselle park blows it’s like little Elizabeth but more run down. Bring it back to when we were kids also kick the Mexicans down a few percent.”

“The town being down to earth and not hoity toity.”

ASPECT
COUNT
%
Shopping & Entertainment
6
1.1%
It Is A Safe Community
211
42.6%
School System
73
14.8%
Easy Commute To Work & Play
175
35.2%
Other (please specify)
31
6.3%
TOTAL
496
100.0%

In asking what type of development most would like to see in the center of town, more than half of respondents – 53% of them – stated that they wanted to see a combination of retail, light commercial, and residential use, also known as mixed use. Retail stores came in second at 36%. According to these results, residents want to see more stores along with a mixture of properties that combine retail and livable space on the same parcel.

The nine ‘other’ comments included a request to bring industry in order to help reduce taxes, a restaurant row, a sporting goods store, and a Fairway supermarket.

DEVELOPMENT
COUNT
%
Residential
8
1.6%
Commercial
39
7.9%
Retail
177
35.7%
Mixed-Use
263
53.0%
Other (please specify)
9
1.8%
TOTAL
496
100.0%

One of the few multiple choice questions, participants were asked what would draw them to patronize downtown businesses. There was a split between more restaurants and independently owned small shops with the latter receiving only five more votes than eateries. Entertainment venues came in third, followed by people wanting chain stores in town.

This question had people also requesting to have a movie theater, a coffee shop, a bakery, a bookstore, and parking to accommodate all of the above.  Recently a coffee shop, X-Press Cafe Gourmet, and bakery, Stephanie’s Bakery, have both opened on Westfield Avenue, although not in the center of town, and last year there were attempted plans to renovate the cinema. One person even commented that the borough needs “an anchor store, maybe Shop Rite say, along with smaller coffee-like shops. Chestnut [Street] needs to be revamped and given a more unified look. Just look at your competition.”

(Survey Question 3)

An overwhelming majority of those who took part in the survey – at a rate of 4 to 1 – believe that One-Seat Rides to and from Manhattan along with proposed upcoming renovations at the Roselle Park train station will be a benefit to the Borough. There has been talk of developing what is commonly known as the Ryan Property which is along the north side of the train station on West Lincoln Avenue (between Locust and Chestnut Streets). Whether this will be residential, retail, or a combination of both, is not known although a previous attempt to develop the property had it dedicated for residential use.

IMPORTANCE OF TRAIN STATION
COUNT
%
Yes
400
81%
No
96
19%
TOTAL
496
100%

A reiteration of what people find most appealing about Roselle Park is made when asked in multiple choice format. Once again, the top three answers – in the same order – dealt with the aspects of safe neighborhoods & sense of community, access to mass transit, and the schools. Something to take note of was that this question was geared to those who do not live in Roselle Park and this question was skipped over by a majority of respondents, only having 127 of them answering the question. This seems to show that those outside of the borough are in line with residents as far as what they see as the positives of Roselle Park.

Diversity was a comment given as to why people would want to move to the borough but a majority of the 9 ‘other’ comments stated that nothing would attract them to Roselle Park.

(Survey Question 5)

When asked about housing in the downtown area, most (31%) stated that they would like to see single-family homes followed by condominiums and townhouses with about 22% wanting each. Apartments came in dead last with only one percent wanting to see that sort of housing downtown.

Almost all of the ‘other’ comments for this question were along the lines of not developing any more housing in the downtown area, with the general consensus being that Roselle Park is too densely populated enough.

DOWNTOWN HOUSING
COUNT
%
Single-Family Homes
156
31.5%
Multi-Family Dwellings (up to 4 families)
11
2.2%
Apartments
5
1.0%
Condominiums
109
22.0%
Townhouses
107
21.6%
Senior Housing
85
17.1%
Other (please specify)
23
4.6%
TOTAL
496
100.0%

A majority of the respondents – almost 2 to 1 – were women.

GENDER
COUNT
%
Male
190
38.3%
Female
306
61.7%
TOTAL
496
100.0%

Those between the ages of 35-54 were the majority of participants with almost one-third being between the ages of 45 and 54.

AGE GROUP
COUNT
%
18 to 24
28
5.6%
25 to 34
51
10.3%
35 to 44
126
25.4%
45 to 54
142
28.6%
55 to 64
114
23.0%
65 to 74
30
6.0%
75 or older
5
1.0%
TOTAL
496
100.0%

Finally, two-thirds of those who took the survey were married. It is understandable that spouses in one household may have each take the survey but even when cutting that by half, it is still more than all the others combined.

MARITAL STATUS
COUNT
%
Married
334
67%
Widowed
23
5%
Divorced
35
7%
Separated
13
3%
In a domestic partnership or civil union
7
1%
Single, but cohabiting with a significant other
23
5%
Single, never married
61
12%
TOTAL
496
100%

The breakdown of answers presents an image of Roselle Park that is safe and accessible to work as well as mass transit with desirable schools. As far as its downtown, people on the one hand want mixed use combining retail and housing but on the other hand do not desire anymore apartments in the center of town. Respondents seem to be aware of the significance of the train station and wish to see it developed to take advantage of proposed improvements to the station and train service to New York City.

Hopefully, this will begin a discussion among not only neighbors but elected officials to see what steps can be taken to move Roselle Park in a direction of progress. Although it is a small sample, the information can be used as a gauge by mayor and council as well as the Board Of Education to have some idea of what residents find important and in need of attention.

Most importantly, since this information came from residents, it might let them see that they have a voice that can collectively be heard by those who are able to put into action the vision and input of those they serve.