OTTAWA LAKE - Although it may be a few more years before Whiteford Township's new park is ready to go, township officials have surveyed their residents to find out what they want their new center of recreation to look like and how to pay for it.
The surveys were mailed to about 2,000 homes in the township, and as of the Sept. 30 deadline, about 500 were returned.
"We had a magnificent response," township clerk Bernice Heidelburg said.
The surveys, which asked about general demographic information as well as opinions on township recreational offerings, have been taken to the township's Toledo-based consulting firm for tabulation. The results are expected to be available when the Whiteford Township Recreation Committee meets on Oct. 12.
Earlier this year, the township agreed to sell the 31-acre Whiteford Park along Whiteford Center Road to a Lambertville man who plans to open a garden center on adjoining property.
The sale likely won't be completed for at least a year or more until the township has time to transfer ball diamonds and other equipment to a new 90-acre site at Section and Whiteford roads that was given to the township several years ago by Stoneco.
Township officials face a choice in coming years as to how to fund construction of their new park. One area probed in the survey asks how receptive local voters are to a levy to fund the park's amenities, or whether the township should rely on donations alone to build it.
"We have a general idea of what we'd like to do there, in kind of a 'wish-list' type thing," township supervisor Pam Dressel said.
"But we'll get down to a point where we'll have to determine what people want."
The surveys also tried to measure what indoor recreational activities were coveted by local residents, along with the popularity of traditional outdoor offerings like walking trails and ball diamonds, Mrs. Heidelburg said.
"We want people to prioritize what they want, what they feel is important," the township clerk said.
Once compiled, the survey results will be used to go after state and federal grants for park development, she said.