By Steve Plunkett
Residents are mostly pleased with the way their town government works — at least that’s the word from 192 people who completed Highland Beach’s official survey this winter.
“I think overall, the results that you got from your residents is that the majority are very happy with the service that you’re providing,” Town Manager Kathleen Weiser told commissioners. “I think you can all pat yourself on the back.”
Some of the survey’s 14 questions drew lopsided results: 133 feel municipal staff is knowledgeable and responsive while 2 do not; 143 are satisfied with Highland Beach’s water while 30 are not; 49 would support a separate tax to clean the beaches while 124 would not. Respondents were split more evenly on whether they had contacted the town for help on an issue (107 yes, 71 no) and whether they had visited Highland Beach’s website (96 yes, 88 no).
The wish list for “What can the town do to improve your quality of life?” included adding lifeguards on the beach, building a children’s park, building a fishing pier and expanding the library. One person complained of a whistling noise coming from the town’s water tower on windy days.
“We can show that to people now,” Mayor Bernard Featherman said of the survey. Featherman first raised the idea of polling residents last summer.
Moments after accepting the numbers, commissioners differed over its usefulness.
Talking about whether to put meetings of the Financial Advisory Board on cable TV and the website, Commissioner Doris Trinley noted that 33 survey respondents said they attend town meetings and 104 did not. Twenty-nine said they review meetings on Channel 95 or online, 72 said they sometimes do and 68 said they do not.
“I think this discussion about how important it is to televise this, I think we’re overdoing it,” Trinley said.
But after citing those results, Trinley pooh-poohed the survey.
“We’re a town of almost 4,500 now year-round. These are little, little, little numbers,” she said.
Featherman agreed the results could not always be trusted, but for a different reason.
“There are a lot of people who didn’t respond to that because they didn’t want their name on it and it was required that it have a name on it,” Featherman said. “So we’re also talking about people who didn’t respond that are very interested in our community endeavors.” Ú