Groundwerx scores

2017 survey rates cleaning and beautification highest

signetDowntown property owners gave the Groundwerx cleaning crews their highest performance ratings ever, according to annual Property-Based Improvement District survey results.

With a 94 percent approval rating this year, the clean teams compiled five consecutive years of plus-90 percent scores.

Ambassador approval ratings improved in 2017 to 76 percent, and beautification projects continue to hover around the 90 percent approval mark.

However, respondents aren’t as satisfied with the overall condition of downtown as they have been in recent years. They rate cleanliness (88 percent), security (87 percent) and homelessness (82 percent) as the most important issues for Groundwerx. While enhanced security received a 75 percent approval rating, only 38 percent felt that overall safety downtown had improved over the prior year.

“The survey results show just how important our services are,” said Chloe Verrey, PBID operations manager. “Property owners want more than a clean downtown. They want downtown to be a destination.”

Property owners made it clear that ambassadors should emphasize reporting messes and crime, working with the homeless and overall visibility to assisting the public with maps, directions and event information.

Groundwerx continues to work with PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) and Downtown Streets Team providing work experience to homeless individuals. According to the wishes of survey respondents, Groundwerx will also pay more attention to picking trash up and covering graffiti in the next 12 months, said Semu One Bear, Groundwerx program director.

The PBID’s business development services, now three years old, continue to make progress, according to property owners.

In 2017, the functions of business development showing the most improvement are, in order, decreasing the downtown storefront vacancy rate; retaining, growing and recruiting small businesses; streamlining the time for businesses to open; and improving the perception of the business climate in the downtown. Nate Echeverria and Nate LeBlanc of the PBID’s business development team helped more than 100 businesses over the past year, also assisting with locations for new businesses and helping through the permitting process. The latest survey scores equaled or bettered the previous year’s results in all business development categories.

As more people move, work and visit downtown, public spaces become more heavily used, adding to increased demand for Groundwerx services, Verrey said.

“We constantly look at how we can do better,” she said.