This week many Boca Grande residents opened their mailbox to find a survey regarding Gilchrist parking, and some Boca Grande residents and business owners are not happy ... for many reasons.
The four-page survey, issued by Susan Schuler and Associates of Brandon, consists of 22 questions and is simply dated August 2013. The questions begin with asking for a yes or no answer as to whether the recipient is a Boca Grande property owner, then goes on to ask specifics regarding the recipient’s opinion on the “day-trip tourist trade” and parking. It ends with very specific questions about Gilchrist parking.
When asked, Schuler said she had a little influence on the questions.
“The client and the consultant firm who asked for the survey put the questions together,” she said.
So who requested this survey to be done? Schuler said she isn’t really sure.
“I know it is not a government agency, but I don’t actually know who the client is,” she said. “I’m completely neutral on Boca Grande issue.”View More images >>
When asked who she sent bills to and who she communicated with to get the questions, she said, “I am dealing with another consulting firm, who is in contact with the client. He has asked not to be identified, but I can tell you it is a public relations firm.”
When asked how she determined who to send the survey to, she said they “tried to send it to everyone on the island.”
However, no island businesses the Beacon spoke with have said that they received the poll in the mail, and many private individuals who are post office box holders didn’t receive the survey either.
It appears the surveys were sent in no particular pattern. In one household a young boy at the residence received a poll while his father, who lives at the same residence and is the property owner, did not.
Schuler said according to her records it was sent to all box holders. They even sent it to some addresses that weren’t “totally perfect,” she said.
When Schuler said that her client will not receive any indication as to who responded in what way on the survey, she was asked then why each survey has a barcode and number on the last page.
“It identifies the address to which the piece was sent, and we were planning if we didn’t get enough forms back to call people and see if they would respond by phone,” Schuler said. “We don’t have phone numbers for everyone, however.
“No one will be identified to my client, though.”
Schuler said she also doesn’t know how the information obtained in the survey is going to be used.
“I got the impression they sincerely care how the residents feel about the issues on the survey,” she said. “I have been in the business for more than 30 years, and I formed this company 11 years ago. I am totally neutral on this, and tried to follow the highest standards of marketing research ethics.”
Jay Whipple, a Boca Grande resident whose bridge club uses the Boca Grande Lighthouse United Methodist Church for their gatherings, sent out a mass email to many islanders.
“At best this is a blatant attempt by desperate neighbors to manipulate public debate on Gilchrist parking,” the email states. “At worst this could be a sophisticated scam attempting to acquire highly confidential information that could be used against you.”
Nan Gonzalez, executive assistant to Lee County Commissioner John Manning, said their office had no record of any such poll being sent out, and said she has received questioning emails regarding the poll.
According to the Boca Grande Post Office, these surveys will be forwarded with regular first-class mail. However, if you do not receive a survey and wish to fill one out, Schuler can be reached at (813) 967-3951.
See an update to this story in this week's Gasparilla Gazette.
E-mail (required, but will not display)
Notify me of follow-up comments
Click for a larger view