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Survey Shows Concern with Wheaton's Downtown Appearance

The informal online survey received low participation from Wheaton's large Hispanic population.

Results from an informal public safety survey in Wheaton showed more concern with the appearance of the downtown area than with specific crime problems, Mid-County Regional Services Center Director Ana Lopez van Balen said.

Van Balen presented the survey results Monday evening at the second meeting of the Wheaton Public Safety Work Group. 

Montgomery County Council President Nancy Navarro and Councilmember Hans Riemer organized the work group to "study and implement ways of improving public safety, quality of life, and perceptions of downtown Wheaton as it relates to revitalization efforts." 

[Read more on Wheaton Patch about the discussion at the work group's first meeting in November.]

One survey question asked for specific ways to improve safety in Wheaton. Respondents selected improving pedestrian safety, lighting, and the appearance of the commercial district as their top three choices.

Of the approximately 230 respondents to the online survey, 190 reported themselves as residents, van Balen said. The typical respondent visits the downtown Wheaton area daily or at least twice a week for eating, shopping, or taking the Metro.

The survey found that the respondents’ overall impression of Wheaton was predominantly average, skewing neither too negative or too positive.

Commander John Damskey of the Fourth District Police called the survey results “typical” of an urban area. “Everything there I expected to see,” he said.

Damskey said he had hoped there would be more minority representation in the survey. Only 6 percent of survey respondents identified as Hispanic, but the demographics of Wheaton are 42 percent Hispanic, van Balen said. Four percent of survey respondents identified as black, and 5 percent identified as Asian, van Balen said.

The work group will meet next on Jan. 17 to discuss the changes coming to Wheaton (such as the new Safeway and apartment building across from the Wheaton Metro Station) and how they will affect public safety.

ricardo pachon December 19, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Too bad I didn't see the survey. I would have participated and given my Hispanic perspective. Vivo en Wheaton casi 15 años.
James Alder December 19, 2012 at 03:31 PM
"Respondents selected improving pedestrian safety" - they have put in more pedestrian signs and fences and street markings than needed...but the people still disobey the laws...crossing out of the cross walks......againts lights and on and on......they need to get rid of the old building along Georgia Ave and make the place more business and resident friendly.
AntonFisher December 19, 2012 at 04:57 PM
The appearance of Wheaton is very tired, old, and ugly. The main things Wheaton needs are improvements to its appearance,removing Wheaton Triangle's surface parking lot and replacing it with something inviting, and removing half of the check cashing businesses that cater to those who evade taxes or can not open a free checking account because of their undocumented status.
Harise December 19, 2012 at 05:28 PM
There are many smaller stores I'd like to try, that are on University or Georgia, but pulling in an out of them is likely a 15 minute endeavor, so I agree, parking for the smaller independent stores is important. I did take the survey and wasn't thinking of that when I did.

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