Nearly 20 installations like this one at Gregg Park by Wisconsin-based artist Luke Achterberg have been erected all over town as part of the First City Public Sculpture Exhibition, a public art project led by the Northwest Territory Art Guild. Yet a recent survey taken on by a new committee aimed at finding quality of life improvements named public sculpture as a needed amenity here. While the survey did garner a lot of good feedback, committee members believe there to be an information disconnect in terms of quality of life improvements already being made. Staff photo by Jenny McNeece
Nearly 20 installations like this one at Gregg Park by Wisconsin-based artist Luke Achterberg have been erected all over town as part of the First City Public Sculpture Exhibition, a public art project led by the Northwest Territory Art Guild. Yet a recent survey taken on by a new committee aimed at finding quality of life improvements named public sculpture as a needed amenity here. While the survey did garner a lot of good feedback, committee members believe there to be an information disconnect in terms of quality of life improvements already being made. Staff photo by Jenny McNeece
Members of a new committee aimed at improving the quality of life in Knox County has released the results of its first-ever survey to garner feedback from the community.

Jessica Sandcork, a member of Knox Life, an arm of Knox County Indiana Economic Development, said the committee in recent weeks has been pouring over the results of the survey, one that saw just about 1,000 responses.

The results, she said, weren’t all that surprising.

“There seems to be a pretty big focus on entertainment, which we expected,” she said.

The economic development organization’s Knox Life Community Improvement Team — or, more simply, Knox Life — this fall launched a survey on social media in an effort to gauge the community on what kinds of quality of life improvements people living here want to see in coming years.

The survey, which was available for weeks via social media, asked everything from information on the participant’s gender and ethnicity to rating both interest in and availability of recreational activities, things like swimming, pickleball, tennis, soccer, hunting, hiking, and bicycling, among others.

It also specifically asked about interest in other outdoor amenities and looked to garner interest in several, established local festivals as well as whether or not people would be interested in totally new events, specifically things like food and beverage festivals.

And entertainment, Sandcork said, was on the forefront of respondents’ minds.

When asked about specific entertainment ideas for Knox County, nearly 76% of those who took the survey indicated they would like to see a drive-in movie theater; just under 69% said they wanted more live music options, and nearly 55% said they would frequent a children’s museum. There, too, was some interest — 37.8% — in the establishment of a comedy club.

Write-in options included mini golf, more activities for children and an arcade.

In terms of food and beverage, there seemed to be great interest in a Wine on the River event, a proposed new festival for the city’s Riverwalk, as well as the return of a chili cook and more late-night downtown food offerings.

When asked about outdoor sports and recreation, respondents indicated they wanted an opportunity to play tennis, do more hiking and camping, as well as options for kayaking and canoeing with the city’s close proximity to the Wabash River.

One oddity that struck the committee members, Sandcork said, was that respondents often mentioned their desire for amenities the city already has — or is in the process of acquiring.

“People would say, ‘we want this,’ but we already have it,” she said, puzzled. “So that’s an issue. There have been many things added, especially to our parks, or improved recently, and people seem to not necessarily know.”

For instance, 45% of people said they wanted to see the establishment of an outdoor fitness park; there has been one at Lester Square Park for nearly five years.

Respondents also said they would like to see a community garden; the Knox County Public Library started such an initiative two years ago. There is one, too, in Bicknell.

Too, 35% of people said they wanted to see an outdoor sculpture park; artists with the Northwest Territory Art Guild have erected nearly 20 installations at places like the city’s parks, Main Street and the Riverwalk over the last two years.

“People in these write-in responses hadn’t heard of these things,” she said. “They were asking for things that already exist.

“So there is a disconnect somewhere.”

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