Public Opinion survey reflects wishes of residents

By Warren Cobb | Managing Editor

A few months back a kerfuffle developed following the Folly Gras Festival with some full-time residents of Folly Beach decrying the traffic and bad behavior that Folly’s street festivals draw to the island. As a result, Mayor Tim Goodwin created a City Council sub-committee to investigate what people like and dislike about such events. As part of the proceedings, the City issued a digital survey, the results of which were recently compiled. Following are a few of the more important findings of the survey results.

Full, part-time and non-residents were invited to participate in the survey, which could be found through the City’s website. Fifty-two and a half percent of respondents were full time residents, 47.5% were part time or non-residents. Sixty-eight percent were property owners. Twenty-nine percent of respondents were full time residents who rent, and 15 percent own businesses. The gender of respondents was
45.8 percent male, 49.6 female. The age of respondents ranged from 22-81 with a mean age of 52.

‘Funky’ Comes in Fourth
One of the first parts of the survey asked respondents to write six words to describe Folly Beach. Over 475 people responded to the question. “Beautiful” was the most commonly used term featured in 25.8 percent of responses. “Laid Back” was second, making an appearance in 20.9 percent of responses. “Beach” and “Relaxing” were tied for third with 19.3 percent. “Funky” came in fourth with 17 percent, and “Community” placed fifth with 15.3 percent. In addition, an overwhelming majority of respondents chose to describe Folly Beach as “a community with visitors” over “a resort with residents.”

Frequency of Street Closings for Festivals
The most telling result in regards to the original question charged to the Council committee was phrased as the above. Overall, 11.2 percent of respondents said it was too few, 72.1 percent said it was just enough, and 14.1 percent said it was too many. Unpacking that further, the survey showed a majority of full-time Folly residents (69.5 percent) said there were just enough festivals. And 78.4 percent of non-resident respondents likewise said the number of festivals was just enough.

Most Important Issues Facing the City
Both resident and non-resident respondents ranked Preserving the Small Town Character of Folly Beach as the most important issue facing the City. Beach Renourishment was second. Respondents ranked the rest from most to least important as follows: Traffic Control;
Adequate Police, Fire, and Rescue Services; Housing Affordability; Maintaining the Existing Tax Base; Adequate Recreational Facilities; Adequate Parks; Recruiting Businesses.

City Prioritizations
Survey-takers were then asked to rank several items on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 signifying low priority and 5 signifying high priority, for how the City should handle each. To summarize: Managing New Construction ranked as a high priority for the City (mean average of 5); Attracting Quality Shopping Facilities had a mean average of 3; Promoting Existing Business/Industry averaged 5 (high); Promoting Tourism averaged a 3; Preserving Open Spaces averaged 5; Preserving Wildlife Habitats averaged overwhelmingly 5; Protecting Natural Waters, also an overwhelming 5; Preserving Scenic Views, Rivers, and Roadways ranked 5; Protecting Wetlands, Floodplains, and Other Sensitive Areas ranked 5; Improving Public Safety Services ranked 5; Improving Fire and Rescue Services ranked 3; Developing Public Transit ranked 1 (Low); Attracting Professional Businesses ranked 1; Expanding the Library System ranked 3; Expanding Recreation Programs ranked 3; Constructing More Parks & Recreational Facilities ranked 3; “Green” Resource-Providing Services ranked 5.

10 Year Priorities
Respondents have particularly strong views about some of the items included in this section. Survey analysts described respondents’ views on Protecting the Natural Environment and Maintaining the Small Town Character on Folly Beach as having a particularly uniform opinion in making these very high priorities. Last on the list was Creating More Jobs.

Free Association
Finally, respondents were allowed to write their thoughts about Folly. Here’s a small smattering of the hundreds of comments submitted. See if you can guess what kind of personalities the respondents have, where they might fall on the festival debate, and what kind of music they listen to:

“Small town, gossipy, lively, diverse, beautiful, fragile.”

“Open minded, free spirited, creative, welcoming, warm and surf.”

“Laid back, smart casual, arrogantly shabby, user friendly, edgy, beach resort, Charleston’s redheaded stepchild.”

“Losing its character fast. Money hungry.”

“Funky; salty; it’s 5:00 somewhere; paradise; mother ocean; will the last person home please blow up the bridge?”

“Friendly. Community Based. Needs improved infrastructure. Not completely compliant with home improvement remodeling. (Too many getting away with renting out rooms outside commercial area). Not enough kid/teen-based recreation options.”

“Bohemian, eclectic, family, fun, NOT A RETIREMENT COMMUNITY, Quirky.”

“Funky, artsy, surfer town, close knit community, edge of America, where everyone wishes they lived.”

“Trashy, crowded, overpopulated, tacky, too many condos, awful town management.”

“Metaphysical Center of the Universe, Land of the Walking Wounded, Happily Heterogeneous.”

“Laid back, fun, friendly, party town, dude, Bert’s.”

“Accepting, funky, hippy, drugs, tourists, friendly.”

“Laid back, Bohemian, honky tonk.”

“Funky, fun, freedom, working people’s beach, unpretentious, unapologetic.”

“Strong community, Beautiful, Great parks for kids, Too much drinking, Too many rentals, not enough residents, Relax, slow down!”

“Unique, diverse and rustic. Discriminatory and prejudicial towards non-resident owners.”

“Drunk idiots. Terrible drivers. Worse parkers.”

“It is Asheville on the coast.”

“Eden. Island of misfit toys. Pirates. Unbridled allure. Home. Funky. Flourishing.”

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