The Town Council is seeking resident input on what questions the Visions survey should ask. The survey will get resident thoughts on certain issues and guide town actions in the future. Courtesy photo

FALMOUTH — Town officials are calling for the public to participate in the new Vision and Values Project to help shape goals for the town during a series of forums, meetings and surveys.

The initiative is intended to guide topics for municipal meetings and actions, spurred by growing concerns by residents who say Falmouth is losing its character or going against what residents want when it comes to real estate development. The program kicked off last week with the introduction of an online forum seeking input on what questions a community survey should ask, which, in turn, will decide what key issues the council will address.

Survey questions could range from what residents want the town to invest in financially to diversity and development.

“There has been a lot of questions about whose voice has been represented; a group of us certainly can make a lot of noise, but we have no idea how many people we really represent,” resident Lee Hanchett said at the Oct. 14 Town Council meeting. “This is an opportunity for us to find out what Falmouth really thinks.” 

According to Council Chairwoman Amy Kuhn, the project came from a council resolution in part guided by public input around controversial housing developments approved by the Planning Board, with recent examples including Homestead Acres and Meadow Winds. Residents have been concerned Falmouth leadership does not know what residents want when it comes to development projects in town.

Future IQ, the research and consulting firm facilitating the project, is slated to come before the council for an update about the first forum on Oct. 26.

In early November, the council will choose which questions from the forum will be included in the first survey, according to Kuhn, who said the survey will be available for a month “and we will try as hard as we can to get the broadest engagement and we encourage residents of Falmouth to help us do this.”

Some residents already had ideas at the recent Town Council meeting on how to increase community engagement.

“If you look at the town it is a collection of neighborhoods. I think they should be approached that way and then we can see the data coming from each,” Paul Bergkamp said.

Amanda Henson said, “Four weeks to do the survey is great, but with it right around the holidays, you may want to think of giving it some more time.”

At a Sept. 14 meeting about hiring Future IQ, residents had also said they would prefer a group from Maine and wanted to avoid the $63,000 expenditure, although the recent meeting saw support for the Minneapolis-based company.

“I think it’s great to go outside; we need an outside eye and we need a focused and efficient plan and the consultant can facilitate that,” Rebecca Hatfield said at that meeting.

The forum, found at www.falmouthme.org, drew 29 comments as of Monday, with residents asking to focus on topics such as inclusiveness for the LGBTQ+ community, racial diversity, Falmouth’s walkability and at what rate housing should be expanded.

“I’d like to see several questions about making Falmouth more inclusive,” Susan Stark said. “In particular, perhaps there could be a question about expanding affordable housing in Falmouth.”

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