We had a fantastic turnout at our first neighborhood meeting. We held this meeting to allow us to introduce the Lyme Properties team, to get to know our neighbors, and to begin a conversation about the history and future of the Wilder Church building.
To facilitate this dialogue, we used a participation technology that allowed each neighbor to voice their opinion, anonymously, by responding to a series of questions. The technology allowed everyone to see the results graphically in a pie chart, instantaneously after the polling was closed. A summary of those results is below.
Lyme wanted the first meeting to start a dialogue, and was very impressed there were very thoughtful comments made to some of the questions we asked. In response to these comments, we modified the questions on-the-fly and re-polled with the audience feedback included as choices. You will note in the results summary that we have included the initial and revised questions for your review. I hope you agree that this was interesting, fun, and a useful way to generate neighborhood feedback.
From the polling some common threads and strongly held opinions emerged. The first of these is that a remarkable 88% of participants indicated they have lived in the neighborhood for more than 15 years (see question #2). Given the increasingly mobile nature of our society, it is refreshing to come across a neighborhood with the roots and tenure of the Wilder Village.
Next, several lively discussions occurred over questions #6 and #7 where we ask how residents of Wilder perceive their neighborhood and how they think Wilder is perceived by people who live elsewhere. We ended up splitting question seven into three parts to further explore the issue. What emerged from this was a clear opinion that residents around the Wilder Church view their neighborhood as a village and they view it differently than they view other parts of the greater Wilder area and Hartford in general (see also question #8b). Question #9b and the attending discussion helped illustrate our neighbors concerns about the heavy truck traffic on Route 5. Questions #10-13 & #20 then explored what would make the neighborhood better, with a clear response that our neighbors would like to see a multi-purpose re-use for the church building, including cultural, arts, education and social functions.
It was surprising to us that approximately a third of those in attendance had never been inside the church before (see question #14). However, there was broad interest among both those who were new to the building and those who had been there before to view the current status of the interior and to know more about our physical renovation plan for the building. There was consensus that a broad array of landscaping improvements would benefit the site and a strong desire to see the clock and bell operational again.
It was particularly gratifying that everyone recognized the iconic nature of the building, its historic importance to the village, and shared our desire to restore and maintain the architectural integrity of the structure.
Click Here to download a PDF of the results of the 9/14/2009 meeting and the letter from Lyme Properties that was sent to the neighbors.