Elm Street Program survey addresses Carlisle residents’ concerns

From the Sentinel:

Some Carlisle residents say speeding traffic on streets is making their neighborhoods not so great places to live.

The survey, which went out to property owners in Carlisle’s Elm Street district, contained a host of questions, including what changes would make neighborhoods better places to live and what kind of businesses residents would like to see on the main borough streets.

According to the survey, the number one issue residents face is speeding traffic.

“And that came through loud and clear in the survey,” said Deb Fulham-Winston, Carlisle’s Elm Street program manager.

Twenty-five percent of those who returned the survey said speeding was the top issue in their neighborhoods.

Homes in disrepair also ranked high in the survey with 21 percent of respondents saying they’d like to see more renovation work done.

A number of those surveyed added comments about deteriorating rental properties in their neighborhoods. The survey is already helping to generate momentum for change.

Recently, a committee comprised of members of the SoSo (South of South) Neighborhood Association completed a proposed rental inspection ordinance to help borough officials combat problem rental properties.

The ordinance is expected to be addressed by council in the coming months.

An increased police presence is also something Elm Street residents want to see, with 20 percent saying it was a top priority.

In the comments, some residents also said that crime and rubbish on the streets are also problematic.

Expanding next year

The survey was send out to 499 property owners within the Elm Street district, e-mailed to Dickinson College students living off-campus, handed out in neighborhood meetings and e-mailed to those who requested an electronic copy, Fulham-Winston said.

The Elm Street district is considered to be north of High Street with its official boundaries being Penn Street to the north, East Street to the east and west to College Street.

Off the 499 surveys that went out, 13 percent were returned, Fulham-Winston said.

“I thought that was really good considering it was the first year,” she added.

The survey is mandated by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which funds the Elm Street Program. The program aims to improve housing stock and provide programs for cohesive neighborhood associations.

Another survey is expected to be conducted next summer and, Fulham-Winston said, that will go out to all properties, including rental units.

“Next year we’ll do a combination of property owners and current residents,” she said.

The results of the survey will be shared with borough council, neighborhood associations, the Downtown Carlisle Association and the Carlisle Police Department, Fulham-Winston said.

It will also help shape Elm Street Program’s five-year plan on how to improve life in the district.

‘Going to help’

Many respondents had ideas on which businesses should open downtown.

About 17 percent of respondents said they’d like to see a bakery open on “Main Street,” which is considered High and Hanover streets. Sixteen percent said they’d like to see a grocery store open while 10 percent said they’d like to see a coffee shop open.

In addition, 22 percent said they’d like have a butcher shop on High or Hanover. Another 22 percent said they’d like to see a Trader Joe’s, a boutique grocery chain store, to open while 22 percent said they’d like a deli/sandwich shop to open.

While the survey went out to just Elm Street district residents, Laura Beaver, chairperson of the Downtown Neighborhood Connection said it’s a pretty good representation of the borough on a whole.

It also substantiates problems that residents are facing in the district.

“It just proves that… the folks living there feel the same,” Beaver said.

Beaver said she wasn’t caught off-guard by the results but added that she hopes residents and officials use the data as a means to improve life in the district.

However, she added, she knows change won’t happen overnight. Rather, it will take some time to fix the problems.

“I think it’s (the survey) going to help raise awareness of the issues in town,” Beaver said. “I think it’s going to help.”


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