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May 23, 2000

A lot of interest is still being expressed in "Project Perry," the unique undertaking which kicked off last month with a gathering of some 400 builders, developers and others who came here from all over Oklahoma to hear the story of our city's projected growth. Judging from conversations still being heard on street corners and in coffee shops, local interest also remains high.

The keystone to this historic project is the anticipated addition of some 1,000 employees to the ranks of the Charles Machine Works, Inc., the burgeoning industry out on West Fir avenue where Ditch Witch equipment is manufactured. The company now has about 1,700 workers. For many years, Perry has had a housing shortage so severe that it forced many CMW folks to live elsewhere. Stillwater has been a major beneficiary but other nearby towns also provide residences for local workers. We need to reverse that trend by making it possible for newcomers to call this city their home.

Before the "summit meeting" last month, in which plans for Perry's growth were detailed, a survey was circulated throughout the community. Sheri Justus, manager of human resources at CMW, designed the questionnaire. Results of that survey furnished some figures to illustrate the things we need to serve present and future residents. All CMW employees were invited to participate by filling out six-page survey forms and the same type survey was distributed to businesses all over town. Their customers were given an opportunity to take part, and an abbreviated one-page survey form was given to Perry high school and mid-high students, with questions tailored to their age groups. The form asked about housing preferences, child care, entertainment, restaurants, retail clothing stores, other retail businesses and services.

Here are some of the findings gleaned from that comprehensive survey: 3,000 six-page (adult) surveys were distributed; 1,656 (55%) were returned; current residents and non-residents were included; 500 one-page (student) surveys were distributed; 349 (70%) were returned. Following are some of the questions and answers received:

Under "Preferred Choice of Housing," 521 indicated they wanted to own their home, 39 chose condominiums and 39 chose rental houses. "Desired Price Range" of single family housing showed these choices: Less than $50,000, selected by 383; $50,001 to 70,000, 174; $70,001 to $100,000, 57; and greater than $150,000, 3. In this same category (Single Family Housing - Own), 250 indicated they desired 1,300-sq. ft. custom homes; 164 wanted 1,800 sq. ft. manufactured homes; 111 chose neither option; and 37 chose larger custom homes.

"Single Family Housing - Rent," was the choice of 160 respondents. Desired Monthly Rates preferred were: $500 or less, 161; $500-$700, 14; and $701 to $1,000, two. Layout preferences were 2-bedroom, one bathroom, 68; 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 63; and 3-bedroom, one bathroom, 30.

133 respondents preferred an apartment or condominium. Here are their preferred locations: 80, residential area; 14, near downtown; 43, no preference. Design preferences were: 79, ground floor; 17, upper level, and 40, no preference. Desired monthly rates were: 116, $500 or less; 24, $500 to $700.

Under "Mobile Homes," 43 were current owners in a Perry mobile home park; and 77 currently do not own their mobile home. As for renting vs. owning, 25 preferred to own their mobile home and 41 preferred to rent. "Important Elements" listed were community storm shelter, named by 67; yard/landscaping, 58; covered vehicle parking, 58; and recreation area, 35.

We'll have more information about this interesting survey in the next Northwest Corner.