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Our view: These surveys are worth the time

It gets to be a pain. We can scarcely go online anymore to buy a pair of shoes, or go out to dinner or visit a favorite attraction, without being accosted, er, asked: “Please take our survey!”

Some surveys are more important than others, of course, and a pair of surveys announced Thursday — both of which could go a long way toward creating a better Duluth and Northland by helping us set our priorities and by getting us the assistance we deserve and need — definitely fall into that “more important” category.

The city of Duluth Community Development Office is asking residents to go to and click on “take the survey” to answer questions related to the millions in federal funding Duluth receives every year to help its poorest residents and most run-down neighborhoods; to improve housing, public services and public facilities; and to promote economic development. Just how should the money be distributed? Your input will help decide. Answers gathered through May 7 will be incorporated into a plan that identifies needs and priorities for the next five years. The Community Needs Survey doesn’t even take five minutes to complete but “will serve to benefit many Duluth neighborhoods,” the office said in a statement. The survey also can be taken in writing. Paper surveys are available at Duluth’s three public libraries, or ask the city’s Michael Palermo for one. He can be contacted at or at Community Development, City Hall Room 407, Duluth MN 55802.

The other survey announced yesterday looks to measure the lingering needs of residents affected by the 2012 flooding. Aitkin, Carlton, Pine and St. Louis County residents are urged to participate at or by calling (218) 499-6181 or (888) 485-8520.

“We’re generally doing well on the physical rebuilding of homes, but there’s still work to be done and there’s been a huge cost to individuals in stress and added debt,” Drew Digby, special projects and long-term recovery manager for Carlton County, said in a statement.

“Normally a natural disaster like the one that hit Northeast Minnesota takes from three to five years for most of the damage to be repaired,” the statement said. “At this point, just shy of two years, we are working to find out what the greatest needs of the residents are and what might be done to continue to help. We realize that the needs might be from stress, added debt, change-of-life plans, family issues as well as unrepaired homes or yards. Filling out this survey will help us coordinate and bring in services that might be able to help residents move forward with their lives.”

As annoying and time-consuming as surveys can be, these, clearly, are different. These are far more important than, “Was your soup cold?” or, “Would you recommend this book to your friends?” These are about improving our collective future. A few minutes of your individual time isn’t too much to ask.