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The City of Beachwood recently conducted a survey of its residents and businesses in preparation for inclusion in its Five Year Master Plan due out in October 2015.
More than 360 residents and 125 businesses participated in the survey that included 26 and 28 questions respectively. Residents were asked their opinions of city qualities, land use, transportation, parks and recreation, city services, housing and quality of life while businesses were polled for thoughts on city qualities, expansion plans, sales growth, workforce, business challenges, quality of business climate and city services.
The City of Beachwood is working with the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission on developing a Five Year Master Plan – a partnership that is the first of its kind in Cuyahoga County to incorporate both a residential and a business survey.
RESIDENTIAL RESULTSThe residential survey results were separated into four quadrants of the city based on the differing housing types and development patterns within each area. Overwhelmingly, 99.4% of the residents cited Beachwood’s quality of life as “Excellent” or “Good.” When asked to rate the quality of city services, residents responded “Excellent” or “Good” on 99.1% of the responses. Opinions on Community Events, Parks and Recreation, and City Services were all rated high satisfaction with 92% responding with either an “Excellent” or a “Good” ranking.
“These results clearly indicate that our residents are pleased with the City and what we offer,” says Mayor Merle S. Gorden. “All the same, we can’t continue to be the robust city we are by resting on today’s accomplishments. A steady eye to the future is what has made and will continue to keep Beachwood the best it can be.”
Survey respondents were also asked to give their reasons for residing in Beachwood and the rankings were municipal services (52.4%), quality of the school system (48.1%), well-maintained neighborhoods (40.4%), feeling safe in their neighborhood (38.1%) and low taxes (35.2%).
Residents were also asked if they would ever consider moving from Beachwood. In response, 35.2% said that they would not consider moving from Beachwood. Those that said that they would consider leaving, would do so only for a different climate - 29.7% - or for a smaller house - 17.6%.
Looking forward, an overwhelming majority of residential respondents want to see the City focus on environmentally-friendly development (86.3%) followed by a focus on office employment (61.8%), consistent home design (61%), industrial development (55.7%) and mixed use development (52.5%).
Residents were clear that maintaining existing housing was the most important policy priority. Lowest rated housing policies were those that called for specific types of housing developments and least popular among residents surveyed were more single-family homes, more townhouses, demolition and reconstruction of housing in existing neighborhoods and more apartment buildings.
Of 14 ranked Important Issues, residents felt strongly that ensuring public safety (98%), protecting the environment (89.4%) preserving open space (85.7%) attracting jobs (77.9%) and enhancing the sense of community (76%) were important issues.
BUSINESS SURVEYSRespondents to the businesses survey also voiced exceptionally favorable opinions of doing business in the City of Beachwood. Particularly, 88% of the respondents rated the business climate of Beachwood as “Excellent” or “Good.” Businesses also rated access to highways, proximity to employees’ homes and well-maintained infrastructure as top reasons to do business in the City. Asked if the business would consider moving, 53% said they would not move from the City. Those that would consider leaving would do so for lower taxes, economic incentives, less traffic congestion, or newer buildings.
Of businesses that responded to the survey, two-thirds currently employ 1 – 19 people, 18.3% employ 20 – 99 and 15% employ 100 or more. Many Beachwood businesses that were surveyed are expecting to grow. Regarding job growth, more than half said they anticipated adding one to five new employees in the next five years and 27.3% said they anticipated adding more than five employees, while 21.5% said they anticipated staffing would stay the same. Further, 24% of business leaders said they anticipated increasing the amount of space they lease or own in the coming years. Most businesses said they would keep their present space.
Businesses reported the biggest challenges they face are transportation or traffic issues, limitations of broadband capabilities, finding skilled workforce and slow regional growth.
An overwhelming 95% of business respondents said the most important issue for business leaders was ensuring public safety. That was followed by improving traffic flow, improved broadband capabilities and general infrastructure. Respondents also ranked protecting the environment and enhancing quality of life as important issues.
With the exception of broadband capabilities and the lack of a fiber optic network, City Services were highly rated with businesses respondents with 75% rating them “Excellent” or “Good.” Likewise, 88% of businesses replied that the quality of the business climate is “Excellent” or “Good.”
“What we heard from businesses is that the City is a great place to do business, but that we still have work to do,” says James Doutt, Director of Development for the City of Beachwood. “Addressing traffic issues and expanding broadband capabilities are fixes we can address with this master plan, creating even more reasons to make Beachwood a destination for businesses.”
ABOUT THE SURVEYSThe surveys were developed by the Cuyahoga County Planning Commission and the City of Beachwood. They were mailed in January 2015 to 900 residences and 575 businesses. The 2013 Census counts were considered when determining a 95% confidence level and +/- 4.97% statistical error rate for the Residential Survey. The City of Beachwood estimates 2,500 businesses are located in the City, equating to a 95% confidence level and a +/- 8.51% statistical error rate for the Business Survey.