At a special Aug. 19, 2020, meeting, College Park City Council received a briefing on a community feedback effort designed to help guide city policymakers develop a five-year strategic plan for the city.
Many of the findings are either not-surprising or noncontroversial: respondents liked College Park’s green spaces, they liked the local transit options, and they liked the city’s diversity. Some of the findings caught some members of City Council by surprise: fears of over-development were a repeated theme of the report, as well as complaints about the relationship between the city and the University of Maryland, and a desire for both local government and local businesses to cater more to “year-round” residents.
“You see the tension between town and gown here,” said Councilor John Rigg during the meeting, who noted some respondents really liked the entertainment and restaurant options while “they also react negatively to other things that accompany having a major university in their town.”
The report was produced by Performance Breakthroughs, a Virginia-based firm that focuses on organizational and business consulting. While the firm has a roster of local and federal government clients on its resumé, the company’s marketing emphasizes its approach on more internal organizational issues such as leadership, worker relations, customer service, succession planning and project management. If the firm has experience in municipal planning – or more importantly – public opinion research at a hyperlocal scale, it doesn’t make that a central part of its sales brochure.