Do you screen your calls before answering the phone? Do you ignore calls if you don’t know the caller? You should make an exception and answer a call from area code 540 if you get one in the next couple of weeks.
Why? Because the Evergreen Park and Recreation District is doing a survey of the recreational needs of Evergreen residents. To eliminate bias, the study will be conducted by Responsive Management, an out-of-state company specializing in such work that has no prior connection to EPRD. It will use a random statistical sample of the Evergreen population to get answers to a series of questions by a telephone survey. The questions were developed by the company, not EPRD board or staff.
Voters just elected two new and one incumbent EPRD board members, and a majority of the new board has promised to make this needs survey a primary source of information to guide EPRD now and in future years. The results will allow EPRD to revise its master plan to incorporate what the community as a whole says it needs.
You may be part of the silent majority, but it behooves you to participate in this needs survey, because about 40 percent of EPRD’s operating budget comes from your property taxes. Capital building costs also come from property taxes. You pay for this even if you don’t use it, so you might as well have a say.
If you are happy with what EPRD now does and want to see no changes, that is important information. If you are unsatisfied with EPRD, that too is important information.
The survey is your chance to be heard by the EPRD board without going to a board meeting (and possibly waiting hours to have a say). It is your chance to be heard as part of the general taxpaying public, and to counter the influence of special-interest groups. Special-interest groups are not necessarily bad, but a small group pushing a narrow agenda energetically and vocally with no one to balance the argument can give an incorrect impression of public support.
This needs survey is designed to provide a much more accurate gauge of public sentiment. It is planned to contact 1,000 residents by random selection. Many statewide and even national polls are conducted with a similar number, so accuracy of results should be very high.
The calls will be random, but you can be sure that folks in special-interest groups will be sure to respond to this survey if they are called. If too many people who are not in special interests refuse to participate, the results might become skewed. The way for the silent majority to be heard is simply to participate.
So, if you get a call from area code 540, please answer the phone and take the time to answer the questions. Caller ID might list the company, Responsive Management, or might say “Unknown Caller,” but the number will have area code 540 and prefix 432.
The Evergreen Curmudgeons are a group of retired professional men who are citizen advocates.