By Wesley Ewell
January 14, 2019
While the Planning Workshop was a productive exercise that generated interest in the revised plan and provided a strong sense of which issues are most important to Bourne residents, it represented the opinions of a limited number of people. In an effort to poll a larger audience and a broader age representation, a community survey was created using an online polling service.
Links to the survey were posted on the LCP website and printed in the local newspapers. The key to reaching younger residents who often do not have time to attend weekend workshops was graciously provided by the Bourne School Department, which emailed the survey link to its parent and teacher mailing list.
More than 760 persons answered most or all of the questionnaire, 93 percent of whom were year-round Bourne residents. Slightly more than 40 percent work in Bourne, and a similar number work out of town. Twelve percent were Bourne business owners. More than one-third of the respondents have children in the Bourne school system.
About 45 percent of the responses came from people under 50, so the survey was successful in reaching a broad range of age groups. The under-50 group was about equally divided between those over and under age 40. Response by age closely follows the age breakdown of Bourne’s adult population.
The geographical spread of responses covered all of Bourne’s villages, with none seeming to be more dominant than others relative to their size. Buzzards Bay, Monument Beach, Pocasset, and Sagamore Beach each accounted for 16 to 19 percent of responses, with all the other areas, including the military base, accounting for 30 percent.
Participants were asked to rank a list of 34 issues facing the town, marking them as either Most Important, Important, Somewhat Important, Least Important, or Not a Concern. The results were then scored by assigning four points to each Most Important vote, three points to each Important vote, two points to each Somewhat Important vote, one point to each Least Important vote, and subtracting one point for each Not a Concern.
Here is how the scoring ranked the issues:
• Water Quality (2186)
• Education (2106)
• Economic Development (1964)
• Internet Access (1963)
• Bridge Replacement (1948)
• Traffic Congestion (1939)
• Town Services (1922)
• Bourne Bridge Rotary (1895)
• Downtown Buzzards Bay (1801)
• Employment Opportunities (1788)
• Substance Abuse (1763)
• Recreation (1747)
• Capital Improvements (1708)
• Open Space (1628)
• Community Identity (1627)
• Housing Affordability (1600)
• Historic Preservation (1539)
• Medical Facilities (1538)
• Beach Access (1512)
• Future of Joint Base Cape Cod (1490)
• MacArthur Boulevard Development (1474)
• Zoning (1466)
• Rising Sea Levels (1464)
• Storm Intensity & Frequency (1432)
• Sewer Service Area Expansion (1428)
• Public Transportation (1344)
• Commuter Rail Service (1214)
• Workforce Housing (1250)
• Bike Trail Extension (1208)
• Aging Population (1207)
• Pilgrim Power Plant (1186)
• Maritime Academy Expansion (1112)
• Private Road Acceptance (1008)
• Boat Moorings (738)
Water quality came out on top, as it had in the October workshop, and transportation issues similarly ranked high on the list. There were some surprises, however, with education coming in very high, and economic issues rising into the higher ranks. These responses are most likely the result of the survey capturing opinions from the under-50 age groups that were sparsely represented at the workshop.
A series of more specific questions each suggested four broadly stated responses to how Bourne should approach ten issue area that ranked high at the workshop. On water quality, a majority endorsed extending sewer service to existing neighborhoods. On traffic congestion, most said to eliminate rotaries and other obstructions to traffic flow rather than increasing road capacity.
A strong majority favored replacing the canal bridges with new spans in the same general location or adding twin spans next to the existing bridges. Replacing the Bourne Bridge rotary with an interchange like the one in Sagamore, or installing a bypass lane connecting northbound traffic with Sandwich Road, were the preferred responses to the issue of traffic backups on MacArthur Boulevard.
Economic development was strongly supported with respondents endorsing the policy of encouraging locally-owned businesses over chains, expanding business zones to encourage increased economic development, and inviting as many new businesses as possible to locate in town. More specifically, on-going efforts to revitalize Downtown Buzzards Bay garnered strong support, including offering additional incentives to encourage private development and business.
Public transportation received mixed support, although about half of respondents want to push the state legislature to require the MBTA to extend commuter rail to Buzzards Bay. The question of affordable housing also got mixed responses ranging from expanding requirements for private developers to include affordable units to letting the housing marketplace find its own balance.
Allowing and encouraging mixed-use buildings with residences, offices, and shops in village centers garnered strong support, while establishing an historic district commission to monitor and guide land uses in villages was not favored. The final question asked about attendance at town meetings; about one-third said they regularly attend. This confirms again that the survey was successful in reaching Bourne residents who do not regularly participate in town affairs.
Because the survey was self-selecting, that is: answered only by those who make an effort to respond, it risked not being representative of the entire community. The high number of participants, however, lends statistical strength to the results, meaning that we can confidently assume that the responses received represent the opinions of the entire town.
Detailed results of all the survey questions can be found at: https://www.townofbourne.com/sites/bournema/files/news/bourne_resident_survey_results_1.15.19.pdf