The results of a community survey show a majority of Canal Winchester residents like living in the village and feel local government officials are steering it in the right direction, but they would like to see more parks, better employment opportunities and fewer apartments.

The results of a community survey show a majority of Canal Winchester residents like living in the village and feel local government officials are steering it in the right direction, but they would like to see more parks, better employment opportunities and fewer apartments.

Village officials worked with Capital Partnerships LLC and Engage Communications to conduct a community survey from November to December last year.

Surveys were mailed 2,644 households; 864 responded, producing a response rate of 33 percent.

"I was very impressed with the outstanding response rate for our resident survey," Mayor Michael Ebert said in a statement. "I believe this demonstrates the extent to which our citizens care about the future of their community."

Village community affairs director Carrie Hoover said the survey cost nearly $15,000.

"I wouldn't say I that any of (the results) surprised us," she said. "I guess the biggest surprise was the amount of responses we received."

The survey had 64 questions that came from directors of each department of village government.

According to the results, 72 percent of respondents believe things are going in the right direction for the village, while 14 percent said Canal Winchester's future isn't so bright.

Still, 95 percent of respondents indicated they enjoy living in the village. Two percent said they didn't enjoy living in the village.

Some of the things respondents said they dislike are having too many apartments, bad traffic, too much growth and a lack of trees and a bike path.

On the other hand, respondents said they like Canal Winchester's quaint atmosphere, safe neighborhoods and historic, charming downtown.

Although they said they want to maintain the village's small-town atmosphere, 80 percent of respondents support the efforts of officials to attract new businesses. Specifically, 53 percent said they want more retail, followed by 47 percent asking for health care development, 45 percent for more professional services and 42 percent wanting more industrial firms.

In an open-ended question, respondents said they would like to see a college, more upscale dining, a theatre, bowling alley and discount department stores.

Also, 78 percent of respondents said they do their shopping and dining primarily in the village.

"That's a lot of people," said village development director Chris Strayer.

In the current economic environment, however, he said he gets the same response from developers: They agree the village is growing, but cannot afford to risk expanding to an "unproven market."

"In this economy, they cannot get expansion on anything that's not a slam-dunk," Strayer said.

He said expanding in places such as Polaris, Easton and downtown Columbus "are slam-dunks."

"As the economy improves, I can take these numbers and say, 'look at this,'" he said. "Residents don't leave town to eat."

Hoover said she needs to communicate better with the public about the village parks offerings.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said Walnut Creek is an important asset to the community, while 66 percent said they don't use Walnut Creek for recreation.

"A lot of people didn't seem to know that it existed," Hoover said.

On whether or not Walnut Creek is an important asset, 42 percent had no opinion.

Also, 62 percent of respondents said they don't use the Canal Winchester swimming pool. Of the 38 percent who said they do, 28 percent said they visit five to 10 times per year.

Forty-eight percent of respondents said they were unaware that the Frances Steube Community Center, at 22 S. Trine St., is available for public use.

"It really gives me an idea of where to focus communications," Hoover said.

Another village offering of which residents seemed unaware was its Web site, www.canalwinchesterohio.gov.

Seventy-two percent of those who responded said they have not visited it.

The village's new Web site was launched last May. Hoover said village employees have been having technical trouble with it lately.

"There are a lot of outstanding items," she said. "It's not as updated as we'd like to see it right now because of the technical problems."

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com