Residents of the central Dover area might want to answer that knock on the door they’ll be receiving: it just might help make things a little better in the Capital City.
Since late October, a small army of volunteers have been working on the Central Dover Neighborhood Planning Initiative, part of a multi-pronged effort to gather opinions and suggestions about how to make the city a better place to live and work.
And while this person-to-person assessment is going on, planning professionals are gathering land use data, doing property surveys and compiling other vital statistics to make a complete package that will be presented to area residents in late spring or early summer.
“We’ve broken the city up into grids and we’re having teams of two work each grid,” said Joe Myer, executive director of NCALL Research, which is taking part in the survey. “We’re knocking on every third door so that it’s a real random survey.”
Neighborhoods within central Dover face the same challenges many communities across the country also face, and the survey provides the chance to work together, make necessary improvements, organize associations and find ways of bringing about change, Myer said.
The Central Dover Neighborhood Planning Initiative is funded by a $90,000 grant supplied by Wells Fargo, Myer said.
It’s a big job, one that already has gotten bigger, he said.
“We had a goal of doing about 100 homes, which is about one-tenth of the households in the target area,” Myer said. “But what we didn’t know was that a larger sample was needed, so now we’ll be targeting one in every four households.
“It will take longer, but it will be a better and more indisputable type of survey.”
In addition to individual households, those living in community housing or apartments such as at Simon Circle, the Bayard Apartments and even dormitories at Wesley College will be included.
The target area stretches roughly from William Street along State Street to Hope Street, then north along North Street to Saulsbury Road. From there it will track eastward along State Route 8 to West Street, finally ending at William Street.
Volunteer survey takers will wear badges clearly indicating they are working with the Central Dover Neighborhood Planning Initiative, Myer said. Each survey will take between 10 and 15 minutes, he said.
“They’ll be asking your perceptions about where you live and what should be done in the community,” Myer said. “There’s also an opportunity to not only answer questions but to share suggestions and recommendations.”
Around mid-summer, once all the data is gathered and compiled, there will be community meetings to present the results to the public and to determine which issues are most important to people in the neighborhoods.
After that, planning committee will figure out how to implement some of the ideas and get projections on the costs involved.
The high point of the almost year-long effort will be an application for additional funding, from $500,000 to $650,000, again from Wells Fargo. If approved, that money will be put to use bringing the community’s ideas to fruition, Myer said.
“That’s not all that might be necessary, but it’s a good jump start,” Myer said. “We’re getting some things done that haven’t been done before, and I’m really pleased with the neighborhood volunteers who have contributed their time.”
Dover Mayor Carleton E. Carey Sr. praised the work being done and looked to the future.
“I think it’s all going very well,” commented Carey. “I’m hoping once it’s all done, we can prove to Wells Fargo this has been a real benefit to the community and they’ll agree to give us a larger grant to move on.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer to help with the planning effort is asked to call Maggie Pleasant at 678-9400, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.