Fairfield Hills Survey Seeks To Get ‘Pulse Of The Community’
Spend about 10 to 12 minutes answering questions online or on paper, taking the 2019 Fairfield Hills Community Survey, “An important part,” of a master plan review process, states a flyer announcing the survey.
Visit ffhsurvey.com or pick up a printed survey form at the first selectman’s office at the Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street; the C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street; or the Newtown Senior Center, 14 Riverside Road.
Master Plan Review Committee Chair Deborra Zukowski met with The Newtown Bee Friday, April 12. The survey is meant to “get the pulse of the community,” she said, as her group works to update the Fairfield Hills Master Plan of redevelopment, a process that takes place every five years. She hopes to “get the idea of what they wish Fairfield Hills to develop into.”
Many of this year’s survey questions are the same as those on a 2005 survey, Ms Zukowski said. “We borrowed heavily from that to see if there is a notable shift,” in community thoughts for campus use, “or consistency across the last eight or nine years.”
Referencing a past Newtown Neighbors Unite post where a college architectural student posted renderings of his concepts for an urban, mixed-use design for Church Hill Road, connecting shops, apartments, and outdoor gathering areas and remembering the stream of comments readers posted, Ms Zukowski said, “A huge number of people said it would be perfect for Fairfield Hills.”
She also feels “there was a shift in what people wanted in 2005.” She noted preferences then were for open, park-like, passive recreation; an extensive sports/recreation facility; and commercial use.
Her committee had done extensive information gathering “from people who were part of governance of Fairfield Hills in the past,” Ms Zukowski said. She mentioned contact with the Land Use Agency, past Fairfield Hills Authority members, Parks and Recreation staff, and seniors.
A 2019 Review Committee “Research Roadmap” covers dates from October 2018 through late January of this year. Invited to speak with her committee members were Director of Planning George Benson; Public Works Director Fred Hurley; Water and Sewer Authority member Louis Carbone; Fairfield Hills Authority Chair Ross Carley; and prior chairs, including John Reed, prior Planning and Zoning Chair Lilla Dean, current Fairfield Hills tenants associated with the Newtown Ambulance President Malcolm McLachlan, local commercial housing developers, and others.
“We sought public input,” Ms Zukowski stated. Mentioning a “surprise” there, she said there is “almost no push back on housing.”
While mention of housing at Fairfield Hills in the past has prompted strong opinions, some against the concept, Ms Zukowski recently notices a “different attitude.” She said 2005 “was a different time. There is much less turmoil now.”
“Take the survey,” she urged residents. It will be live through May 15.
She plans to post a link through social media.
Every five years, a committee is convened by the Board of Selectmen to review the master plan, gather input from town leaders and the community, and provide recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Commission for plan updates. According to Ms Zukowski’s flyer announcing the survey, “This process helps assure that the development of the property reflects the current and future needs of the town as a whole… Please take the time to ensure your voice is a part of the future of the property.”
The first page of ffhsurvey.com gives viewers a synopsis of Fairfield Hills and reasons for creating the survey, opening with, “Please answer the questions below based on how the campus currently stands. Please indicate whether you feel we have too little, about the right amount, or too much of the following...” Topics range from arts, sports, entertainment, pickleball courts, walking and biking, bathrooms, parking, and resting areas.
Residents then come to a question with which they can strongly agree, neither agree nor disagree, or strongly disagree: “I sense a growing urgency for the town to hurry up and do something more significant with the Fairfield Hills campus.”
Another questions prompts, “Listed below are a few additional elements describing what Fairfield Hills might look like/include when it is completed. Use the scale to indicate how favorable you are toward each one.
Possibilities include a performing arts and cultural center and band shell for outdoor concerts.
Survey takers are then asked to indicate how much they favor “A new ‘main street’ or ‘town center’ destination environment with combined restaurants, retail, and housing, like what you’d find in towns like Ridgefield, Westport, Bethel, West Hartford, etc,” or “Smaller corporate/professional businesses like medical/dental offices, banks, realtors, etc,” and “Small retail shops including restaurant, ice cream parlor, coffee shop, etc. – all ancillary businesses to service recreational activities.”
Survey takers are additionally asked how much they do or do not favor a town green or pedestrian plaza, small movie theater, horse trails, playground or water park “for kids,” event space for large outdoor events, multi-level parking, a small hospital, clinic or urgent care, boutiques, wedding and event hall, rental housing, education facilities, tennis courts, basketball courts, water fountains, or land-banking areas for future town needs “even if we don’t know what they are now.”
The survey then turns to a page with background information on Fairfield Hills, building demolitions costs, and more, asking readers to share how much they agree or disagree with the following: “Many of the buildings populating Fairfield Hills are still a tremendous asset to the town and should be renovated by the town,” “Many of the buildings populating Fairfield Hills are still a tremendous asset to the town and should be renovated by private developers,” “If the buildings on the Fairfield Hills campus aren’t going to be used, they should all be demolished as soon as possible at taxpayer expense,” “I don’t mind if the unused buildings at Fairfield Hills sit empty for the next 5-10 years,” “There should be no additional development (commercial and/or residential),” “It makes sense for the town to maintain control of the land by leasing the buildings and the land (rather than selling).”
Survey questions then prompt readers for answers regarding thoughts for specific types of development. Survey takers can indicate how favorable — or not — they are about the following: local retail businesses, national retailers, a multiplex movie theater, banks, real estate offices, restaurants (non-chain), a pub/tavern, large or smaller corporate offices, industrial or warehouse operations, residential development in the form of condominium or one or more stand-alone apartment buildings, age-restricted housing, age and income-restricted housing.
The survey also asks for readers’ favorability toward, “Residential development in the form of income-restricted stand-alone apartment housing or condominiums (also known as “affordable” or “diversified” housing, where a qualifying annual household income would be between approximately $60,000-80,000).
Lastly, the survey asks for answers that will remain anonymous regarding age and gender, whether or not the survey taker owns a home and number of children, employment status, household income.
This article reflects, most, but not all of the survey questions.
Change Text Size: