WINCHESTER — Responses to the "Shape Winchester" survey include a wide array of suggestions for what the city should strive to be in 20 years.

"Don't turn into Fairfax!" one respondent wrote.

"More progressive, modern," wrote another.

The survey was posted last month on the city of Winchester's website to provide guidance for the Planning Commission's forthcoming update of the five-year Comprehensive Plan. As of Tuesday afternoon, 81 people had viewed the survey but only 43 responded to its questions.

The survey, which allows participants to remain anonymous, includes sections where people are asked about Winchester's current state and what improvements they would like to see in the future.

The vast majority of respondents said they enjoy living in the city:

  • "I like the Historic District and the redevelopment of the walking mall."
  • "Big city amenities with a small town feel."
  • "Winchester is a city of beauty ..."
  • "Walkability, good schools, large shade trees ..."
  • "I like just about everything."

But a few people are far from satisfied:

  • "Honestly, Winchester is a drag."
  • "I would like it much better if we had a Wegman's [grocery store] and Macy's [department store]."
  • "I regret moving to Winchester and plan to leave when I have the funds."

When asked about community improvements they would like to see within the next five years, survey respondents put sidewalk repairs and better traffic flows at the top of the list. Other suggestions included:

  • "A big play park at Ward's Plaza ... [with] lots of activities: Skateboarding, playground, swings, rock climbing, tether ball, racquetball, handball, etc."
  • "Amphitheater in the Old Town area for entertainment ..."
  • "Improved grocery and dining options."
  • "Better health care, especially mental."
  • "Affordable fiber optic cable internet for Winchester city residents."
  • "... removing controversial, negative elements such as Confederate flags and landmarks."

With 73% of survey participants stating they plan to retire in Winchester, they outlined what they want the city to be in 20 years. While the vast majority of respondents said they hope Winchester stays much as it is now, there were some suggestions for the future:

  • "A more diverse, more progressive, highly educated and cultured community."
  • "Less expensive to live in."
  • "No more housing and apartment buildings."
  • "Turn in the city charter and become like Stephens City and Middletown. We are taxing middle class out of [the] city."
  • "Better."

The "Shape Winchester" survey is scheduled to accept responses through the end of the month, but city Planning Director Timothy Youmans said it may remain online longer if people are still submitting opinions.

To participate in the survey, visit winchesterva.gov/transparency and click on the link for Open Town Hall.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

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