Results of a recent survey of Cumberland residents validate the Town Council’s priorities, including placing a value on outdoor recreation opportunities, according to the council.

About 75% of the respondents said they regularly use Twin Brook hiking trails, more than half use the Town Forest trails, 60% use Knights Pond trails and half frequent the Broad Cove trails.

In addition, 72% of respondents said they “strongly support” town funding for hiking trails, with 77% strongly supporting funding of Twin Brook.

Almost twice as many residents responded to the recent survey about life in Cumberland compared to the same questionnaire mailed in 2007, but the percentage of residents who completed surveys decreased. The survey, for residents age 18 and older, asked about economic development, utilities, housing and other issues. Resurrecting the survey allows an apples-to-apples comparison to see how things have changed, officials said.

“The two years of COVID have made real relationship-building and in-person participation impossible most times and now while we recover, we need help determining what Cumberland residents value,” Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane told The Forecaster in March. “You rest, you rust.”

There were “no major surprises” coming out of the recent survey, Council Chairperson Allison Foster said.


The council expected to see some change in responses because of the pandemic when it came to outdoor recreation, Foster said, and “we did, an example being the use of our trails increased significantly compared to the survey in 2007.”

“We felt that when we looked at our trails, but it was absolutely validated in the survey,” she said.

The town received a higher number of surveys – 1,700 compared to 865 in 2007 – but the response rate dipped from 32% to 21% among the 8,600 residents, who could complete the survey online or submit a hard copy.

In 2007 when only paper surveys were used, the town mailed 2,705.

“Interestingly, in the responses themselves, in the demographic mix, the percentage of female responses increased dramatically with this survey,” Foster said. “That could mean last time, it was two partners in a household completing a survey together, but that was an interesting change in the mix.”

The number of women who responded increased to 55% from 46%, and the ages of respondents also increased. In 2007, only 3% were between the ages of 18 and 34, while 11% were in that age range for this year’s survey.


Another change related to employment. This year, residents were asked if they worked and if they commute. A quarter of respondents said they do not work and of the roughly 60% who do work, only 1% said they work fully from home.

Respondents who regularly take part in parks and recreation offerings and elder services thought they were excellent, but those who do not use them were neutral. Foster said that reinforces the notion that services are being offered to the best of the town’s ability, but some residents may not know what’s available.

“It really drove home that we have to make sure the full town, even if they haven’t needed that service yet, that they understand it’s available and that we are continuing to feel like those that do access the services feel it is excellent to very good, which we are very proud of our employees because that was a consistent response,” she said.

Foster said additional surveys and meetings will be held over the next two years to get more specific on what issues residents would like to see addressed and how. The full survey results can be read at

“What we will be using (the answers) for is to validate the things we are focused on and make sure the priorities we’re setting are still appropriate,” Foster said. “As chair, I will be proposing that we do a workshop as a council to do a review of the survey later in September.

“At our initial workshop to look at the results, there was nothing jumping out at us to say ‘you know, we were going to focus on senior services and the survey came back and said that’s not a need.’ Things that have been on our priority list seem to have been validated through this.”

Rachel Vitello is freelance writer living in Portland.

Comments are not available on this story.