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Phone survey to gauge community center interest

Cottage Grove officials are urging residents to participate in a phone survey the city is conducting with the YMCA to gauge the public's interest in landing a YMCA in Cottage Grove.

The city and organization hired an independent firm to conduct the survey, which began last week with calls to randomly selected Cottage Grove residential phone numbers. Calls will be made through mid-December.

A Cottage Grove task force has been examining the possible construction of a community center since early 2009. The survey is a part of that review, said Howard Blin, the city's community development director.

The YMCA has expressed interest in partnering with the city on a community center-type building. City officials have said a public-private partnership is the most likely route to constructing such a facility.

"We're trying to determine the depth of interest in a community center or YMCA facility in the community," Blin said of the survey.

The survey will use a sample size of 350 residents, large enough, Blin said, to provide the city and YMCA with a representative sample of the city. The study will cost $25,000, with each party splitting the bill.

"The poll is being done now because it's after election season," Blin said, because people are reluctant to respond to surveys with the abundance of campaign pollsters making calls.

Residents will be asked what amenities they would like to see in a community center, such as a swimming pool, senior center or teen center; how many people would join a YMCA in Cottage Grove; and which locations in the city would be preferred.

Blin called the survey "an important piece of information that will help the task force as they come to a recommendation."

The city's Community Center Task Force is set to deliver a recommendation to City Council members on whether to pursue construction of a community center - and, if so, what the facility would include and where to build it - by April.

Anderson, Niebuhr and Associates, Inc., is conducting the survey with questions provided by the city and YMCA.