Chadds Ford Township residents have until Nov. 6 to return an open space questionnaire that will enable the township to develop a formal open space plan. The township can't spend the money it's raising from an open space tax without first enacting the plan.

Results of the survey will be revealed at a special Open Space Committee meeting scheduled for Dec. 4. The committee will begin writing the plan early next year with the intent of presenting a final version to supervisors in December 2007.

"We need to hear from everyone even if we don't like the answers," said Deborah Reardon, chairman of the Open Space Committee.

Reardon's committee, with the help of the Brandywine Conservancy and the Chadds Ford Board of Supervisors developed an eight-question survey to learn what township residents want or don't want when it comes to open space acquisition.

In two questions the survey asks residents to rank the relative importance -- extremely important, somewhat important or not important -- of a list of natural and cultural resources. A third question asks residents to rank a list of possible recreational facilities they would like, or not like, to see in the township. Other questions deal with demographic information.

The eighth question is open-ended and asks residents for comments, giving respondents a chance to voice any specific desires, concerns or thoughts on the subject.

"The narrative is as revealing as the quantitative [questions]," said Tara Tracy, a senior planner with the conservancy who is a consultant on the project. "The plan will only be as good as the feedback, positive or negative feedback."

Chadds Ford Township residents approved a referendum in spring 2005 authorizing a tax of 0.28 mills designed to raise approximately $125,000 per year for open space preservation. The tax went into effect in January. State law, Act 153, prohibits the township from using the money raised until an open space plan is adopted.

According to tax collector Bruce Prabel, the amount of money brought in by the new tax as of Sept. 1 was $130,000, with 98 percent of the year's taxes paid.

The survey was mailed out with the "Chadds Ford Times." the newsletter of the Chadds Ford Civic Association. It was sent to all the households on the association's mailing list. It was not sent to businesses, said Reardon.

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