Taneytown mails survey to all its residents

January 26, 1995|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Taneytown officials hope their latest attempt to gauge the mood of the city -- a survey mailed to Taneytown's 4,200 residents on Monday -- makes it out of the mailboxes and back to City Hall.

The unprecedented survey covers virtually every aspect of life in the centuries-old city, and came at the behest of City Manager John L. Kendall, who sees it as a valuable planning and economic development tool.

"From an economic development standpoint, the information might be helpful so that we can focus on what the residents' perception of business is here," Mr. Kendall said. "I hope it can give us some valuable feedback."

The 17-page questionnaire asks residents to answer questions about why they chose to live in Taneytown, what their parking, recreation, and city services are like and whether or not the city should pursue more industrial development.

For years, Taneytown has been looking to increase its industrial and commercial tax base, which, Mr. Kendall said, makes up only a fraction of the city's total tax base. Most of the growth -- in fact, virtually all of it in the last decade -- has come from new homes.

"We want to know what residents want their city to be like in the year 2000 and beyond," Mr. Kendall said, adding that residential growth without industrial growth can be detrimental to the city's ability to keep taxes down.

Since 1990, the city's population has grown from 3,700 to 4,200, a 14 percent jump. By the end of next year, Mr. Kendall said planners have estimated the population to total 5,200 -- a 24 percent jump from this year.

The city already has an industrial base, but 80 acres of industrially zoned land remains dormant.

He hopes to reach the same response level he got several years ago in Brunswick, the Frederick County city he managed before coming to Taneytown. In that city's first-ever residents' survey, about 500 people responded, a 10 percent return, Mr. Kendall said.

Many of the problems facing Brunswick are similar to those facing Taneytown, except that, since the B&O Railroad pulled out of town in 1960, Brunswick has had no large-scale industrial employer.

"We are constantly asking local business owners what problems they are facing, and what they are doing to tackle them," said Rick Weldon, Brunswick city administrator. "I'd say the major economic development problem we have here is no industry, so there is no where for our residents to work inside the city. The majority of residents are train commuters to other places."

Not that Taneytown's economy is in danger of imminent collapse. Mr. Kendall points to the announcement by Food Lion that it intends to open the grocery chain's first outlet in suburban Baltimore by year's end in Taneytown as an example of the city's vibrancy.

"I guess they feel there's a good market for them here," he said. "And it will be good for the city, and good for shoppers to have a choice." Food Lion will become the city's second grocery store.

The residents' survey can be mailed or dropped off at City Hall or dropped off at the post office, Taneytown Bank and Trust and several other locations. Completed surveys will be accepted until Feb. 10, and the results will be announced in March or April, Mr. Kendall said.

The residents' survey is to be followed by an in-person survey of the city's businesses, which will begin in a week or so, Mr. Kendall said.

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