Graduate students and faculty from Elmhurst University’s industrial and organizational psychology program are working with Brookfield village staff to draft a community-wide survey where residents can give feedback and insight into village services, their interactions with village employees and departments, including community development, police, fire, recreation and public works.
They’ll also be asked which sources they use to get information about the village, what village issues concern them the most and what the village might offer that it does not.
Elected officials appeared enthusiastic about the pros of being able to survey the community in partnership with the university instead of spending thousands to have a consultant draft such a survey.
“Because this would be something new for the village, it might make sense to pilot a survey with a group like [Elmhurst College], where we can engage with some students that are looking to grow and learn in their studies, and also the village gets a benefit of getting the pulse of the community before we make that recommendation to the board to commit the funding it would take to do something longer term,” Assistant Village Manager George Issakoo told trustees at their Aug. 22 committee of the whole meeting.
The timeline for rolling out the survey and making it available to the public has not yet been determined, but Issakoo told the Landmark that it likely would be made public throughout October, with the Elmhurst College students and faculty presenting the results to the village board in late November.
In addition to being available online, the village plans to make a hard copy of the survey available to those who would prefer that format. It will be made available at public facilities such as village hall and the library, and the village plans to push out communications about the survey via social media and other channels.
“Really we do have strategic goal discussions at the staff level, and one of things we are talking about is assessing where we’re at as a community,” Issakoo told the Landmark in a phone interview. “We always want to improve and make changes in order to meet the goals of the village board.”
Brookfield has done targeted surveys in the past related to recreation facilities and parks, but never a comprehensive survey where staff can gather data to identify areas of improvement and suggest where the village might want to allocate its resources.
Village President Michael Garvey said he particularly liked that a draft survey provided to elected officials by the Elmhurst College contingent on Aug. 22 included more open-ended questions that could provide for thoughtful feedback beyond ranking things on a numerical scale.
“It’s always interesting to hear what types of things people are looking for,” Garvey said.
Village Manager Timothy Wiberg cautioned elected officials that feedback on some services, such as police and code enforcement might depend on whether or not someone had been ticketed or found to have violated codes.
“There are certain departments … [where] people have a generally unfavorable [view],” Wiberg said. “It’s our job to be enforcing our codes, which means we’re telling people something they don’t want to hear, and they’re not going to be very happy with that.”
Issakoo said that while village officials should not dismiss such criticism, the survey drafters were trying to craft questions so staff could learn something tangible to guide the response.
“We did try to draft the survey to make it more about preferences or services residents engage in,” Issakoo said. “We’re trying to take a balanced approach.”