Survey data shows what Covington residents want to see
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
October 18, 2012 · Updated 12:24 PM
Covington residents know what they want and they told city officials as well as the Covington Chamber of Commerce in a survey this summer.
The results show survey respondents overwhelmingly want new business in the city, specifically family-friendly shopping, restaurants and entertainment.
During the summer the city asked for feedback via an online survey to gather information about demographics, employment background, shopping in Covington as well as education particularly higher and continuing education. Though city staff wanted input from Covington residents they also encouraged those who live outside the city limits to fill it out.
More than 150 people responded to the survey, according to data provided by the Covington Chamber of Commerce, which helped develop it in partnership with the city and its Economic Development Council.
Covington’s Economic Development Council wanted to see how the city can better partner with businesses, area organizations and possibly higher education institutions such as Green River Community College and Renton Technical College.
The way to find that out was to ask what the community wants.
A number of respondents specifically asked for Trader Joe’s, Target, a movie theater, bowling alley, craft stores, independently owned restaurants, more restaurants particularly upscale dining, as well as more recreational activities both indoors and outdoors that are family-friendly.
“I find myself traveling to Kent, Auburn, South Center and even the Eastside for entertainment,” one respondent wrote. “Covington needs a theater or some other form of entertainment such as bowling alley or skating.”
Another comment indicated the city’s long-term vision for its town center needs to be realized sooner rather than later. The comment suggested a place which is pedestrian friendly with quaint shops as well as a farmers market in the spring and summer.
“Covington is difficult because it has no personality, a highway running down the center,” the respondent wrote. “Plenty of shopping center but none provide a gathering place for our great community of citizens. I really believe that mixed use is the future with condos or (apartments) above the businesses.”
More than 62 percent of respondents said the primary deterrent to shopping in downtown Covington is traffic congestion. One respondent noted the “need to expand business services outside of (the) 272nd Street corridor since traffic congestion is a major concern.”
Of the respondents, 57.5 percent were Covington residents with 20.9 percent describing themselves as residents of the surrounding area while 61.4 percent were women.
Nearly 50 percent of those who filled out the survey were between the ages of 41 and 60.
Another element of the survey was intended to gauge what kinds of classes Green River Community College could offer that would appeal to residents. Computer and technology courses, cooking classes as well as health and fitness offerings got the most votes.
Covington City Manager Derek Matheson wrote in an email that there are two primary ways the city has used the data from the survey.
“We’ve shared it with the City Council, Chamber Board, and CEDC to aid their future decisions about economic development,” Matheson wrote. “CEDC discussed it at length last month and observed that our community remains very consistent about its economic-development priorities.”
Matheson wrote the requests for certain types of businesses, as well as family-friendly activities, remain in line with previous survey results and public input.
The other way the city is using the survey results is in partnership with Green River Community College, which is working with Covington’s Parks and Recreation department to figure out what kinds of continuing education and recreation classes would be best suited for the city’s needs and wants.
“We’ve been working with GRCC to bring continuing-education courses to Covington as a first step toward a permanent physical presence here,” Matheson wrote. “GRCC will begin to offer courses aligned with the survey results next week, and (parks and recreation) will start next year. By the way, GRCC and P&R and working together to ensure their efforts are complementary, and they may even offer some courses jointly.”
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at email@example.com or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.