Early survey returns show most believe downtown headed in right direction

i Jun 1st 2018

By Bill O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City Partnership, revealed Friday some data gleaned from the ongoing downtown survey.

As he addressed the Downtown Wilkes-Barre Business Association meeting at the Osterhout Free Library, Newman said 564 people have already responded to the survey. He expects many more to come in over the next few weeks.

And from what he’s seen so far, most believe the downtown is on the right path.

The top downtown events were the Fine Arts Fiesta, the new Holiday Pop-Up Shops and the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Newman said the weekly Farmers Market was not included because of its frequency.

Newman also found that while online shopping has increased by some 20 percent, the survey showed that downtown shopping remained constant.

And when asked if respondents felt the downtown was headed in the right direction, 70 percent said “yes.”

The Downtown Perception & Use Survey was last done in 2014, Newman said, and is used as a valuable tool in planning the city’s downtown economic development.

“The survey tells us what is working, what’s not working and what the public is patronizing,” Newman said. “This is all critical data and we urge everyone to take the time to fill it out.”

The survey, which aggregates respondents’ anonymous replies, can be accessed at: https://wbdcp.org/dcps-2018-perception-use-survey/

The feedback helps Newman and his staff understand why and how often people visit downtown; how much they spend when they’re here; and how the patronage of downtown businesses, events, and venues varies among center city employees, residents, visitors, and students.

“It helps us measure program effectiveness, allowing us to determine whether our actions are ‘moving the needle’ in downtown,” Newman said. “This year’s survey also poses new questions to downtown residents, with the goal of better understanding who’s choosing to live in our center city and why.”

Newman said the survey takes about 10 minutes to complete, and everyone who does has the opportunity to register to win one of three $50 gift certificates to downtown businesses.

Osterhout book sale

The Friends of the Osterhout Free Library also had some news to announce Friday.

It will hold its 42nd annual book sale, held rain or shine under a tent on the library patio, beginning Saturday, June 16, and ending Saturday, June 23. A special preview night will be Friday, June 15, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., offering a sneak peek and shopping for anyone donating $10.

Irene Martin, president of the Friends of the Osterhout, said the 2017 book sale raised $24,012. She said 4,500 people shopped at the event.

The Friends of the Osterhout Free Library, formed shortly after the Agnes Flood of 1972, began by raising funds to help the library recoup its losses.

Martin has been involved with the Friends for 25 years. Contact her at imartin9647@gmail.com to volunteer your time.