League City might be caught in some strange, four-year loop.

Four years ago, the City Council shot down the idea of a dog park — a fenced area on public property where dogs can run off the leash.

Last week, the idea came up again. Councilman Andy Mann suggested building a dog park next to the city’s new police station on West Walker Street.

That discussion was interesting. But it led to an even more interesting discussion on another topic that also was hashed out four years ago.

On Tuesday, the discussion of the dog park evolved into a discussion of what residents really want, which evolved into a discussion of a survey.

Four years ago, League City conducted a survey that was compatible with the National Citizen Survey. That’s a project of the International City/County Management Association and the National Research Center.

The beauty of that idea was that the data collected in League City could be compared with data from other cities.

That survey, conducted in 2010, suggested that League City residents were interested in dog parks but they were more concerned about sidewalks and traffic signals. You could say that with some confidence because the survey had some context to it — in this case a national database.

The survey had some other interesting points. It showed how League City residents interacted with their police and fire departments. It showed what League City residents thought about the city’s commercial areas.

In conducting the survey, the city was doing what most good businesses do. It was finding out what the customers wanted.

Unfortunately, the survey became a political issue. And so the idea of having an annual survey that produced results that could be benchmarked to a national database quietly died.

That’s why last week the council was wondering — as if it were a brand new idea — whether it would be a good idea to find out what the citizens want.

Actually, that is a good idea. The council ought to try that survey again.

League City has a new city manager, Mark Rohr, who has a reputation for helping the communities he’s served identify long-term goals and focus on them.

Reviving that survey would be a good way to involve the community in finding its vision. It’s always good to know what a majority of the customers think about a community’s long-range goals.

Other cities in Galveston County ought to take a look at that survey, too.

Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News.

(5) comments

Centerpointe Moderator

I can't find the results of the oft-cited previous survey - I tried searching for it. Right around the time when LC spent too much money on an extremely unoriginal new logo, they churned (redesigned) their website, breaking a lot of links and apparently removing content (I see empty folders). I've found a lot of interesting stuff in the past two weeks, but nothing related to that survey and no detail related to the latest version(s) of the FM 518 access management plan.

The problem with the original survey as described seems to be that it didn't match apples to apples.

Sure, we have concerns with traffic control and sidewalks - but those improvements don't come out of the same pot of money as a dog park would. When the original dog park ended up as a relatively low priority, from the sound of things that was partly a function of the fact that the list combined apples and oranges funding issue questions, such that it was low moreso in a relative rather than an absolute sense.

The arguments against a dog park four years ago included the fact that other parks took priority. Well, in the intervening time, LC got its Water Smart Park. LC got its Boundless Playground. LC got its $3 million new swimming pool. LC got all those sports facilities that actually came before everything else. LC has gotten all that stuff that was supposedly higher up in the queue. It's going to be increasingly difficult to spin a political argument against a dog park for that reason, especially given that it's so much less expensive than pretty much all of those other parks (coincidentally, it costs the same as moving one very large Compton oak).

Mick Phalen

Hi Cpointe_Mod,

Your timeline is a little crooked - Boundless Playground was before the national survey. The survey was not intended to match apples to apples - - - it was to get a sense of what residents believed important and to prioritize the use of a scarce resource (in this case, park dedication fees).

The Park Dedication Fee is not a continuous open faucet - - it has an end date. Paraphrasing then Councilman Mike Barber, we have $25 million dollars to fund $225 million worth of park projects.

I believe that proponents of the dog park will get their wish this time, not because of the desires of a majority of residents of LC, but because of political pressure by a relatively small special interest group in an election season. Same as the Water Smart Park and new swim meet pool.

Centerpointe Moderator

If I could find some of the original documents, then I could be more sure of what came before what. But it's very, very difficult to get that information. The LC website is not set up for efficient topical serving-up of documents and information. I've faced the same issue on the history of the Five Corners improvements negotiations and project developments.

LC commenced its public dog park survey yesterday. It is open to more than "a relatively small special interest group", so we'll see what that brings.

www.leaguecity.com/dogpark

Mick Phalen

The survey appears to be a Facebook survey open to the world - - a far cry from the "survey" endorsed by the GDN.

Centerpointe Moderator

LC is using a cloud software called SurveyMonkey but I don't know if they have the lowest freemium level of service or if they pay for a professional subscription. I would hazard a guess that, either way, it has the ability to read ISPs and tell them where their respondents are coming from geographically, specifically whether the respondents are in LC or not (shoot, even my free blogging software has ISP logging capability).

There is at least one chat line going on Facebook because LCPD announced the survey, but those results are not being tabulated for assessment purposes.

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