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Survey first step in planning

People enjoy their time at Wisconsin Point as they jump from the lighthouse this past summer. Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com

Superior's Comprehensive Recreation Planning Committee got its first glimpse at the preliminary results of a survey designed to guide its process based on residents' wishes.

"People took this seriously," said Jason Laumann of Northwest Regional Planning Commission. He said while surveys like this often contain "Easter eggs," political commentary or jokes, neither were present in the survey in any significant way.

About 1,700 people responded to the survey, including residents from other Douglas County communities; Duluth; communities outside of Duluth in Minnesota; and Illinois and Indiana. Superior residents filled about the majority, with 1,016 completing the survey.

"They were really very good," Laumann said of the responses received. "They were really thought out, well-crafted and very consistent, so that's a good thing."

Preliminarily, the data shows that nature walks, pleasure walking and hiking, swimming and picnicking are the most common uses for Superior's recreational facilities. Wisconsin Point, Barker's Island, Billings Park, non-motorized trails and the Superior Municipal Forest are the most commonly used facilities.

It also highlights the types of facilities — hiking and walking trails, a dog park and splash pad, canoeing, kayaking and camping — people would like to see expanded or improved in the city. Mountain biking trails, motorized trails and snowshoe trails also ranked high. Amenities people want to see improved or expanded in the city include restrooms, beach and lake access, park maintenance, docks and piers, and shelters and pavilions.

More than half the respondents said they were within biking or walking distance of a city park or trail, Laumann said. One-third indicated they had to drive.

Taking the number of households in the city, which is 11,674, the city had a response rate of 8.7 percent — close to the 10 percent goal the committee set, Laumann said.

Raw data from the survey still needs to be compiled and categorized to make it useful for the planning process. The survey remained open until Sunday and was compiled Monday and Tuesday to give the committee a sense of what people had to say about recreation present and future in the city.

Laumann said a summary of what was said will be made available to the public when the data has been analyzed.

While the survey is closed, it's just the beginning of gathering information for the planning process.

A series of four meetings over the next two months will ask new questions of the public to gather input before the panel begins the process of envisioning its comprehensive plan in January.

"It is separate from the survey," Laumann said of the meetings. "We're not going to go in there and ask the same questions."

The meetings, which will be held in various City Council districts, will focus on the whole community but also look at the amenities and opportunities within those districts.

"We'll take this as a separate piece of input as we move into the visioning process," Laumann said.

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