MUKWONAGO
Survey: Residents support downtown revitalization
Prefer public-private funding partnerships for development projects

By Brandon Anderegg - Freeman Staff

Dec. 14, 2017

MUKWONAGO — A majority of residents in Mukwonago and surrounding municipalities have suggested that revitalizing downtown Mukwonago is important but any development projects should be paid for by public-private partnerships, according to an online survey created by the Downtown Strategic Plan Steering Committee.

The DSPSC offered the online survey to residents, business owners and tourists to gauge people’s thoughts on revitalizing downtown Mukwonago, according to Village Administrator John Weidl. Weidl said the goal of the survey was to give residents a chance to provide feedback on the committee’s mission statement, the importance of downtown revitalization and potential ways of funding the latter.

Recently, a handful of residents in Mukwonago represented by the entity “Village Center of Mukwonago” in addition to others have called for local government to make the process of determining Mukwonago’s future more inclusive, according to Weidl. He said the DSPSC and the survey were responses to the call for change.

The mission of the DSPSC is to 'Make the downtown a pedestrian- friendly destination centered on historic preservation, business development and cultural and recreational opportunities,' according to the DSPSC website.
 

Survey results

From the more than 700 people who filled out the survey, 70 percent of respondents said revitalization is somewhat important or very important. Approximately 30 percent said they were indifferent about revitalization or they did not care about it.

As for the mission statement, 76 percent felt the DSPSC should prioritize the “pedestrian-friendly” and “business development” components, according to the survey. The percentage is split down the middle with each taking 38 percent of the vote. The third popular component was “cultural and recreational opportunities” with historic preservation being the least important by those who took the survey.

In the survey’s comment section, residents reiterated the need for historic preservation, saying a community’s history, the small-town charm and the historic buildings are what attract people to Mukwonago. Others said if the village was not pedestrian friendly, then nobody would come downtown. Some argued that a community cannot thrive without a local and robust economy. However, some respondents suggested that historic preservation and development are not mutually exclusive.
 

Financing revitalization

Forty-nine percent of respondents chose public-private partnerships as their number one option to finance downtown projects. This funding mechanism would be a combination of tax dollars and funding by community businesses and residents. The second most popular option was “only through funding of the business and residents in the downtown area.” Funding downtown projects solely with tax dollars was the least favored option at 41 percent.

When it comes to a tax increase for revitalization, 53 percent indicated that they were slightly, moderately, or extremely likely to support it. 22 percent were opposed and 22 percent were indifferent.
 

Reflection of community?

Weidl said it is possible the survey may not be a 100 percent reflection of the community. However, after 700 responses, Weidl said he could reasonably conclude that no single minority opinion is over-represented. In other words, if people accept the hypothesis that the survey is a reasonable representation of a cross section of the entire community, DSPSC members can draw certain conclusions, said Weidl.

“If you’re willing to believe that this could be reasonable representation of the community, most of the community believes efforts to revitalize downtown Mukwonago are important,” he said.

Weidl said he was led to this hypothesis from the 100-plus people who provided their names, phone numbers and email addresses for follow-up information, most of which were village residents. He said his intern is reaching out to these residents to learn more.

Respondents expressed their rationale behind votes in a comment section that accompanied the survey. Weidl said while there were several responses, he chose to include comments that represented a wide range of beliefs but excluded any that attacked individuals or were otherwise incendiary.

To find exact data and comments of individuals who took the survey, visit
http://mukwonagodowntown.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Downtown-Revitalization-surveyresults-final-draft.pdf.