The highlights of a recent survey of residents in Wichitas historic Fairmount neighborhood were presented Thursday at Fairmount Park. The organizer of the study says the results surprised him--in a good way.
Students and faculty from Wichita State University near the Fairmount neighborhood knocked on more than 800 doors and spoke to roughly 400 community members earlier this year.
"These kids were invited into these peoples' homes just like, 'Come on in, you're welcome here,'" Mark Glaser, a professor at the WSU Hugo Wall School of Public Affairs, said after the announcement. “I had no idea that 50 percent of these people would say 'come on in.'”
Glaser is the leader of the study, which was funded by a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation. He said the results were just as positive as the process: Four in 5 respondents say Fairmount is a good place to live, and 90 percent say residents of different races get along. Ninety-three percent indicate a willingness to work with local police to keep the neighborhood safe.
“The people that live here, this is a neighborhood of choice for many of them," Glaser said.
In 2014, 36-year-old Letitia Davis was attacked and killed in Fairmount Park, an incident that shook the community. Since then, Wichita Councilwoman Lavonta Williams said, the city has been "surrounding this particular area with love.
"We have, sure, one incident, I consider it to be an isolated incident, but from that has come nothing but good," Williams said, "because it caused Wichita State to wrap its arms a little bit tighter around the community."
The research from the study will be used to guide future development in the area. The second and third parts of the study, which will be announced later this fall, will focus on a needs assessment of the community, and a look at the relationship between WSU and Fairmount residents.
"What are you telling us that you need?" WSU President John Bardo said Thursday. "What are you telling us you care about? What are you telling us you want your community to be? Then, what can we do to help you realize those dreams, those desires and those interests?"
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