Survey: Central Ohioans Want NBA Team, Dislike Sprawl, Like Small-Town Feel

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An NBA team, more transportation options and sustainable living those are some of the desires of Central Ohioans. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission released results of an online survey Wednesday that reveals what some people want for the area’s future.

MORPC’s executive director Chester Jourden boasted that Central Ohio is the place to be. He said 75 percent of those who completed an online public opinion survey relocated to the area.

“And they loved it here. They thought it was very affordable. They thought it had very quality of life. They saw a great potential and opportunity to be here – for school, or for work, or for family, whatever the case was,” Jourden said.

But that does not mean there is not room for improvement. The survey, called “Shaping our Future: the Regional Plan for Central Ohio,” was completed by 6,600 people in 12 counties including Franklin County. MORPC wanted to know what they liked about the area and how it could be improved. Sidewalks, bikeways and light rail were the top three most important transportation options. And people want to live near their workplaces, stores and parks. Eigthy-eight percent said they would walk or bike to work or to the store if they lived close enough. Jourden said this was true for both the baby-boomer and the young professional.

“They want to be able to walk; they want to be able to bike. They don’t want two cars. They want to be able to use public transit. If that’s what folks are telling us, and that’s what’s important for the future, then we have to connect our public policy decisions and our investment decisions to that aspirational goal,” he said.

Respondents also showed a desire for more sustainable communities. They disliked the sprawl, and expressed appreciation for rural areas. And Jourden said there will be a need for higher density neighborhoods if Central Ohio continues to grow. He estimates a 36 percent increase in population over the next 30 years – taking up 86 percent of available land. Jourden said a different way of living is needed.

“Places where we can create lofts above and down below where there’s a four person shop; and they can live down below and around the corner from the caf . And so it’s a different kind of way we build,” Jourden said.

And Jourdin notes with denser areas comes better public transit systems. Jourden said the hope is local leaders will use the information in the survey to help shape public policy and create broad goals for the area.

Glenn Reeser is a Pickaway County Commissioner. In his words it will be an “opportunity missed” if the survey “is put on the shelf and gathers dust.”

“So we gotta find a way to take this information and make it actionable. And it’s going to take some time and effort. But I think it describes a clear path forward. And what people are looking for, and what’s going to make Central Ohio what we want it to be 10, 20, 30 years from now,” Reeser said.

Get a closer look at the survey’s results by visiting MORPC’s website.