Stakeholder survey reveals few surprises

BLYTHEWOOD – As the town embarked on its daunting 10-year comprehensive plan earlier this year, town leaders were also faced with the prospect of looming growth both inside and outside the town. They needed to come up with a plan with specific goals intended to keep the town on track to grow well while maintaining its essential rural character and rich history, Town Administrator Carroll Williamson said.

For their plan to accurately reflect what citizens want for the town and surrounding community, town officials would need extensive citizen input. To that end, on April 15, the town council and planning commission approved and launched (under the guidance of Town Administrator Carroll Williamson and Planning Commission Chair Rich McKenrick) a detailed stakeholder survey to find out what the folks living in 29016 (both within and without the town limits) want for Blythewood now and in the future. The survey was distributed to everyone in the 29016 zip code.

Of the surveys released, 601 were completed and returned to town hall. The raw data was organized and summarized by Gregory Sprouse, Director of Research, Planning and Development for the Central Midlands Council of Governments (CMCOG) in Columbia.

Of those who answered the survey, 63 percent live in the town limits of Blythewood and 37 percent live in the unincorporated areas of 29016. And 37.82 percent of the respondents are relative new-comers, having lived in Richland County for 10 years or less.

There were few surprises in the survey results.

The majority of those who answered the survey said they chose to live in Blythewood because of its community rural character, its proximity to Columbia, its quality of schools and because it’s a good place to raise children.

Their biggest concerns are: too much growth (65 percent), traffic and congestion issues (33 percent), inadequate infrastructure, public facilities and public service (15 percent), the loss of rural, small town character as a result of growth (13 percent) and the lack of commercial and entertainment amenities such as dining, shopping, locally owned businesses and a vibrant town center. (8.6 percent).

Asked why they chose Blythewood to put down roots, an overwhelming, but not surprising, 63.78 percent said it was because of the community’s rural character. Asked their opinion of the quality of life in Blythewood, 68.12 percent said it is good, 20.64 percent said it’s excellent and 10.74 percent said it’s fair.

Thirty four percent said it’s improving, 39.10 percent said it’s unchanged and 26.47 percent said it is declining.

A little more than 66 percent of responders said the town needs more restaurants.

While 52.77 percent of respondents strongly agree that the town should pursue agricultural preservation, only 20.50 percent strongly agree that more industrial space should be pursued.

Almost half (47.20 percent) of those responding said they get their local news from the newspaper, far ahead of the national average, while 30.05 percent said they get their news from social media, 13.07 percent from email and 9.68 percent from a website.

While 53.22 percent said the community’s recreational activities are adequate, 46.78 percent found them inadequate. Asked how they feel about the current recreation space situation in Blythewood, approximately 55 percent said it’s not enough, almost 40 percent said it’s sufficient.

Only about a third of the respondents are in favor of the town borrowing money, with 65 percent saying ‘no’ to borrowing.

More women (58 percent) than men (42 percent) answered the survey, and a little more than half of the respondents were more than 55 years of age.

A complete summary of the survey data is available below.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]