It is pretty clear from a recent telephone survey of Scotland County residents that a community center here would be a welcome addition.
What is less clear is how such a center would be funded.
The survey, conducted in August by Clark & Chase Research, Inc., showed that 74 percent of respondents said they would be “very likely” to use this facility.
A total of 201 telephone surveys were conducted with about half coming from the city of Laurinburg (101 interviews) and the other half from the county. While a survey this small is not perfect, it can be instructive for planners trying to get the project off the ground.
According to the survey, women expressed more of an interest in the community center than men. Eight in 10 women (82 percent) said they were very or somewhat likely to use this facility, compared to only 2 in 3 men (65 percent.)
The survey also found that 8 in 10 adults under the age of 55 said they are very or somewhat likely to use the community center, while older respondents are less likely to use it. Non-white respondents were more likely than whites to say they would use this facility. Nearly half of non-white respondents (48 percent ) said they are “very likely” to use this facility, compared to only 1 in 4 white respondents (26 percent. )
The majority of survey takers said the new center should offer swimming, activities for children and group exercise classes. Also high on the wish list was an indoor walking track, activities for teens and health education classes and exercise equipment
The survey found that respondents were less interested in a community meeting space (78 percent) and art classes or studios (72 percent). In addition, those who said they were “very likely” to use the community center were significantly more interested than other respondents in an indoor walking track and gymnasium. Non-white and lower income adults expressed significantly more interest than other respondents in health education classes.
When asked to suggest additional programs not on the survey, a few respondents requested literacy programs, tutoring, accessible computers, and child care or after-school programming.
A center is all or just some of these amenities will come with a price tag. That may be sticking point for county residents. The survey suggests that most respondents are leery about how it should be funded.
When asked if they would support a tax increase 6 out of 10 said they would oppose a tax increase. About 4 in 10 adults say they “strongly oppose” such a tax increase. Older respondents (age 55+), whites, and high income households appear to oppose a tax increase more than other segments.
Four in 10 adults say they support a tax increase (38 percent), but even among this group, the willingness to incur additional taxes is rather weak (21 percent “somewhat support” a tax increase, while only 17 percent would “strongly support” one).
Respondents who said they would be “likely” or “frequent” users of the community center were the most ardent supporters of a tax increase to pay for its construction and operation.
Does that mean the center is destined never to get off the ground? We hope not. There appears to be a real desire and need for some kind of facility. Building a community center will take some creativity on the part of planners and some sacrifice on the part of residents.