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City pulls online survey after citizen feedback

The "Stewardship Survey" launched by the City of Grand Marais on August 9 has been closed. Photo by Rhonda Silence

On Friday, August 9, the City of Grand Marais posted an online survey filled with photos taken throughout the community of residences and businesses. The survey, dubbed the “Stewardship Survey,” asked people to look through a collection of 100 photos and respond by saying whether the scene detracts from the quality of life in the city, or contributes to the quality of life. 
The photos ranged from the manicured lawns and landscaping at North Shore Health and the Public Library to photos of overgrown lawns and city lots filled with parked vehicles. 
By the time the Grand Marais city council met on Wednesday, August 14, there was a heated response on social media, with some members of the public expressing anger at what many felt was the targeting of some community members. 
During the city council meeting, four people spoke about the survey, including Mike Smieja. [:50]

Smieja said a picture of his yard was included in the survey and he surmised that it was there as an example of a messy yard. He said he realizes his yard is not tidy and said he has a business to run, along with additional jobs, and he just doesn’t have time to keep it organized. 

However, he said he didn’t care that a photo was taken of his yard. He was concerned though, that he had been contacted by someone else whose property had been included who was proposing a lawsuit against the city. 
Dale McIntire, pastor of Cornerstone Community Church also spoke, questioning the survey methodology. He said he felt the survey created division in the community. [2:40]
The day after the Grand Marais City Council meeting, WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux. [3:55]. The mayor agreed to answer a number of questions, such as how did this survey come about. 
Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux talked about the use of social media by the public. He made a plea to citizens to talk directly to the city council or city staff about their concerns. [7:04]
The mayor talked at length about the intent of the Stewardship Survey and issued an apology. [11:47]

The subject of how much the Stewardship Survey cost the taxpayers of Grand Marais came up on social media and WTIP asked Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux about that. [15:16]
Mayor Arrowsmith DeCoux spoke about the next steps in the process of updating the city ordinances. And once again, gave an apology to anyone who was distressed by the survey photos. [16:28]