2007 Reader Survey Results

Last fall we completed our first-ever reader survey. We would like to thank the roughly 65 people who completed the survey while it was open. We appreciate your feedback and continued support. Part of the reason we have not posted it until now is the tiny size of Rethink College Park contributors. A lack of writers (not technology, funding, or even recalcitrant leaders), remains our biggest ongoing challenge.

1. What is your affiliation?

College Park Resident (non student) – 23.1%
UMD Alumni – 23.1%
Outside College Park Resident (non student) – 16.9%
UMD Faculty or Staff – 15.5%
UMD Undergraduate Student – 10.8%
UMD Graduate Student – 6.2%
Development Professional – 3.1%
Student elsewhere – 1.5%

In total, 32.5% of our readers are current UMD affiliates. We are encouraged by the diversity of the results and take it as a sign we are succeeding in our goal to bridge the UMD and College Park communities.

2. Where do you live?

Elsewhere (Please specify city and state) – 36.9%
College Park – 35.4%
Nearby communities (Hyattsville, Berwyn Heights, Greenbelt, Beltsville, Riverdale Park, University Park) – 24.6%
UMD On-Campus Housing – 3.1%
Graduate Gardens or Graduate Hills – 0%

3. Do you own or rent your house or apartment?

Homeowner – 64.5%
Renter – 35.5%

4. If you are currently employed (full or part time) where is your job located?

Outside of the area – 53.5%
On campus – 25.9%
Nearby communities in Prince George’s County Р12.1%
College Park – 8.6%

5. How did you learn about Rethink College Park?

Link from other webpage – 31.8%
Other – 30.2% (answers included politicians, neighborhood, word of mouth)
From newspaper – 25.4%
Through a web search – 14.3%
Other non-online media – 1.6%

6. Have you sent the link to Rethink college park to someone else?

Yes – 72.3%
No – 27.7%

7. When did you first visit Rethink College Park?

Within the last month – 20%
Within the last six months – 23.1%
Within the last year – 40%
More than a year ago – 16.9%

8. How often do you visit Rethink College Park?

This is my first visit – 3.1%
About once every few months – 4.7%
About once a month – 15.6%
About once a week – 25%
More than once a week – 51.6%

9. What is the primary reason you visit Rethink College Park?

To learn about development projects in College Park (off campus) – 93.9%
To learn about development projects at the University of Maryland campus – 67.7%
Specific planning issues (e.g. housing, transportation) at College Park – 58.5%
Specific planning issues (e.g. housing, transportation) at UMD – 43.1%
To read the comments – 30.8%
To learn about development projects outside of the University and College Park – 24.6%
To leave comments – 12.3%
Other (specify) – 6.2%

10. Have you ever attended any of the following after directly learning about it through Rethink College Park? (check all that apply)

East Campus meetings – 60.7%
Cafritz meetings – 50%
Housing forums – 26.6%
City Council meetings – 17.9%
Crime and safety meetings – 14.3%
Other please specify – 7.1%

11. After learning about a University of Maryland issue on Rethink College Park, have you contacted a University official (through phone, mail, email), to express your opinion?

Yes – 15.9%
No – 84.1%

12. After learning about a College Park issue on Rethink College Park, have you contacted the relevant county or College Park official?

Yes – 22.6%
No – 77.4%

13. How do you navigate the website?

Read whatever is displayed on the top – 59.7%
Other – 24.2% (Most mention RSS)
Use development map – 8.1%
Use categories listed on the right hand column – 8.1%

14. Aside from Rethink College Park, which of the following sources do you consult for information relating to College Park development?

The Diamondback newspaper – 65.6%
The Gazette newspaper – 53.3%
University of Maryland website – 39.1%
Other websites or blogs – 37.5%
City of College Park website – 28.1%
Other – 14.1%
The Washington Business Journal – 10.9%
Prince George’s County website – 10.9%
Do not use other sources – 7.8%

15. What does the site mean to you?
We received many responses to this and the next question. We decided to publish most of them (excluding some that included personal identification information)

I rely on the analytical skills of the writers to identify and explain news and trends in College Park development.

It is the best source on development of the area in the area. I wish I had more time to try and contribute. I don’t always agree with your viewpoint and your polemics are very strong, I wish I had more time to followup on all the facts you seem to have so easily at your fingertips. I do appreciate your point of view, insights and arguments but being a homeowner in College Park I may not always agree. I do think we could be allies in trying to bring good public transportation to this area. Unfortunatley, the UM Shuttle takes the voices behind 2 million trips out of the game in terms of applying pressure to WMATA, PG County and the State….

Quality, informed information on UMD and local development issues

I like it. It gives a very good idea of the plans for the area.

Timely, relevant information regarding all things development in the UM-CP area, including objective information linking to original sources, restrained commentary (in the posts) that I nearly alwasy agree with, and amicable dialogue (in the comments).

This site is great in multiple ways, including its organization and content. The perspective of the creators regarding development is balanced and knowledgeable.

It is a way for me to keep in touch with the city and university development and express my opinions when I feel motivated by a particular interest.

An excellent forum on the ways College Park is changing. Usually there is a bias toward good urban planning and smart growth practices.

It is a balanced view of what is happening and proposed at the UofM and the City of College. Both have a great potential.

Invaluable resource. Use it often. Living in University Park we are surrounded by potential development. I travel US1 daily to and from work. I’m sick of the rental house problems. I grew up in CP. I’m sick of this area lagging in terms of quality development. I’m embracing much of this proposed development and try to keep up with the issues. Consulting Rething CP is one way to do it.

Excellent source of information. I am an alum who has been disappointed at the lack of development in and around CP for as long as I can remember. CP is a town and campus with tremendous untapped potential as this site has proven. This site can educate those interested in CP and influence positive development. I would love to see a very different campus and college town in 10 years.
Excellent forum to incubate progressive ideas and encourage progressive activism.

Very interesting content, great blog, I look forward to new posts

A great and articulate advocate for rational change.

It got me engaged in community-related issues, which had not happened before. Part of my job involves marketing the university and the area to prospective students – it’s a great help for that. It provides hope (sometimes) that things will get better here. It is a great piece of student activism/journalism at a campus that is known for apathy (rightly or wrongly).

I Love it. It is so well organized and up to date. I use it to keep track of everything that is going on in the area. The posts are on target and very well researched.

Offers me current and varied information that otherwise is not easily at my disposal. I own a business in College Park and I am attempting to develop a large tract of land near the University.

16. How could Rethink College Park improve?

Hard to think of a way. I just wish I had time to get more involved myself. David Daddio could run for the town or county council….

Just keep it up, PLEASE. Link to pre-filled out petitions.

More posts, more people, more comments.

Focus more on quality-of-life issues like crime prevention, enforcement of rental unit regulations and inspections, and traffic improvements.

Focus more on the need for a total transportation solution, including more buses with times of 10-12 minutes between them for the general public. Along with support for a reliable Route 1 shuttle from Hyattsville to Beltsville and perhaps even out to Laurel. We also need smaller neighborhood routes that will feed into the Route 1 Shuttle… That will be a huge part of an economic engine that will help the region as a whole….IMHO… Also the Development map is great, but I also wish there was a related page that could help tally up the trips that might be generated by each of the projects in the area…
I do realize this is the Rethink College Park blog, and not the Rethink Greenbelt blog, but would also love to see more info on Greenbelt. Also, I like when you include photos/maps of where you’re talking about as I have a terrible time with just road names.

I just hope you can keep it going! It must be an enormous amount of effort.

Broader focus on the College Park area (i.e. Hyattsville, Greenbelt, University Park, etc.) that affects UMD students.

Place more emphasis on the categories, because there is a lot of useful information to be found within them. The categories do well to provide background information on each area in College Park that is covered on the site.

Advertise what you’re about in other media (The Gazette for example) If you already do I have not seen or noticed it.

I would like to see slightly less student bias. It should be possible for Old Town and Calvert Hills to be mostly populated by owner-occupied houses and, with good planning, have plenty of rental housing for students at E campus and nearby. Please back off of rent control etc. I would like to see more common solutions less town vs gown.

Maybe it is just the browser that I use or the way I have it set but I would like to be able to see a pop-up comment when mousing over the little balloons on the development map. Just the name of the project and the address would be sufficient. Now I have to actually click through and often have clicked on the wrong balloon. Some of them are practically on top of one another. Also, I looked and cannot find a key to the map. What do the different colors on the balloons mean? I can guess but would like to know for sure. Other than the minor annoyances with the development map I have no complaints or suggestions. This site is fantastic.

Comments moderation could reduce the name-calling.

Be more prolific! Write more! Twice as much! My appetite for College Park development related news and commentary is bottomless. I am SO excited about everything that is happening in College Park and am currently writing this on a temporary development-news-high after reading about the Birchmere. Wow, a 500 seat theatre! Silver Spring wanted it but we got it!! WOO HOOOOOOO

Don’t change what you’re doing.

It’s already great and very current. Love the maps.

not sure – you guys are nailing it. beautiful visual layout/format/presentation. quick concise articles with links to additional info. love it. content is accurate. only one potential area for improvement: open the site up to ideas even if they are contrary to what most may believe so a dialogue can start. for example: alternatives to the campus connector. instead of being dead-set against it, open up a conversation about the full range of options.

Include links/emails to the appropriate UM officials, College Park officials and County/State officials to allow for easy expression of approval/disapproval of initiatives. Would love to bombard the few local politicians who for years have stood in the way of any substantial development in the area.

only way would be to professionalize, but then something would be lost
more photos and graphics are always appreciated. in general i think you guys do a great job. keep up the good work!

Add even more stories or pieces than now is the case.

Best discussions have been those that engage diverging but thoughtful opinions – the more of that on the site, the more useful it is. The most dispiriting occasions are those where it seems that students and long-term residents simply are talking across each other (and are not really listening to the other side). Anything that could be done to get more students to be aware of what’s going on would be useful – I’ve talked to many students about things learned on RTCP, and am shocked at how little most know about what’s happening in their environment. Would a weekly news digest (e.g., 1 email per week) get people informed? Anything that would get students to vote in local elections in larger numbers would be really useful – if local politicians cared about student votes for their survival, I imagine that some reconciliation would happen pretty quickly. … Overall, though, these are small things. It’s a great site, for which we should all be thankful.
Just keep up the good work. Don’t burn out.

Somehow offer more comments from people in local government, University officials and/or developers relating to posts that they are associated with. People such as Tom Dernoga, Eric Olson, Doug Duncan, Otis Warren and various city council officials should be commenting on a regular basis. The only person that does this on a regular basis is Bob Catlin. Have a forum where they are invited to offer views or answer questions from specific people visiting Rethinkcollegepark.

I am interested in finding a way to separate informational posts from opinionated posts. More of the latter might peak the interests of more people.

I like the blog, think it’s easy to use. However, I feel since it was developed by Univ Students who have not lived in CP for an extended period it favors Univ Positions to an extreme. Please try to see the issues from all points of view! One example is the Terrapin Connector – I really don’t think you appreciate residents’ views on this issue or many other issues. It always comes across to me that “you” (the editors) feel that since I chose to live in a university town that I should be willing to put up with whatever the university wants. I don’t feel that way. I’ve lived in CP 24 years and before that Adelphi for 30. I bought my home in CPW a long time before the Univ started expanding in all directions. I bought in CPW because I love this area and felt protected by BARC and 2 Golf courses and yes even the power lines and Buck Lodge Park. I have a problem with the Univ wanting to ruin the surrounding landscape!!!!! I have no problems with students renting in my neighborhood as long as they are considerate and willing to pay the rent. Property taxes and mortgages are outrageous deal with the costs and quit complaining about high rents! I DO have a problem with the Univ not providing enough student housing. The Univ has known for a long time that more students have a desire to live on campus they should have built more student housing. This is NOT a city problem, this is a Univ problem!

A timeline of expected developments – when work if expected to begin/be completed on the many projects you have listed, even if just estimate – would be useful…

Send out a daily/weekly digest- that is how I read other websites- Now thinking about it, I only go to your website when it is cited in another (Rt1 growth, Riverdale, Hyattsville listserves)

8 thoughts on “2007 Reader Survey Results”

  1. Today was my first time looking at the comments. Very humbling. Thanks to everyone who participated and great job with the survey Rob.

  2. Job locations
    “Outside of the area – 53.5%”

    That is shameful. Let’s hope that more jobs are created along with new residences and entertainment. M Square is a great start.

  3. we need to come up with some other topics / news items because this is quickly becoming “PLNN” – the all purple line news network. i am not trying to down play the purple line – it is a very important debate – but we need a break.

  4. To solve our shortage of writers issue, maybe Rob could work with a Faculty member to have students in Architecture, Urban Planning, and the new Masters in Real Estate Development programs write articles for RTCP for class credit / research purposes.

    Mabe we could put together a mailing list of folks (like me) who would love to write articles – then Rob and David could send a quick email message to the mailing list that says: “We need someone to write on the following topic(s)” and then give us some basic guidelines around length, etc

    Another option would be to create a blog message board within the site where the viewers can start discussion topics / threads. Trouble with that type fo format is it increases the workload for a “moderator” type of person.

  5. I think a forum/message board would be a great idea.

    Also agree with Kevin about the purple line overload. This is an important topic, but it would also be nice to hear more about the more immediate development going on. For instance: construction/renovation appears to have begun on Varsity Grille (formerly Los Cabos); Wawa remains vacant more than 3 months after closing; Thirsty Turtle is open, but still seems not to have a full menu (?); the Downtown Parking Garage hasn’t been started on yet, but there’s a hearing before the planning board coming up. These are the things I notice when driving around CP, and I come to RTCP to learn more about them. Instead all the articles are about the PL- letters that officials write to each other, etc. While very important in the long-run, most current undergrad/grad students don’t care too much about it since they will be long gone when it is built. They want to know what’s going on NOW; more articles about current, tangible developments might lure in a few more student readers.

    Just my 2 cents.

  6. All very interesting topics J.L. We just don’t have the capacity to write about that stuff/ no one tipped us off to it. Please feel free to investigate/ tip us off/ write in the future. We just can’t keep on top of everything anymore, especially since I live on Capitol Hill now….

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