Letter to the Editor: Gills Rock Waterfront Access Survey

The Town of Liberty Grove recently mailed the Gills Rock Survey to town taxpayers seeking their opinion on how the Gills Rock properties purchased by the town should best be used.

The Door County Environmental Council agrees conducting a valid survey of town taxpayers is necessary. However, while the DCEC applauds the town’s desire to protect these properties from commercial development for the benefit of the community, the survey mailed to taxpayers is so flawed as to be invalid for its intended purpose.


  1. Due to poor design of the mailed survey (perforated postcard), an undetermined number of surveys were cannibalized by post office mail sorting equipment during processing.
  2. Surveys were not mailed to individual taxpayers in the town.
  3. To avoid “stuffing the survey box,” the survey does not require a signature or even a confidential identification number for recording purposes.
  4. Among other survey terms such as “museum” and “pavilion,” there is no definition/explanation of “safe harbor.” Do respondents know what they are rating? The correct terminology should be “harbor of refuge” and, it should have been fully defined to survey recipients.
  5. Most surveys are “piloted” with a smaller number of respondents to validate the survey prior to surveying the intended audience.
  6. Well-designed surveys use a 5- or 7-point Likert Scale for obtaining responses, with a range of answer options from “extremely likely” to “not at all likely.” Typically, they also include a moderate or neutral mid-point; rarely do they offer a “No opinion” option.

The DCEC is so concerned with the future of this important community project that the DCEC is willing to incur postage and related expenses to conduct a new survey by paying for a survey expert to consult with the Gills Rock Ad Hoc Committee in constructing and conducting a new survey. Obviously doing so would incur significant expense, but the DCEC is willing to incur these expenses.

The DCEC looks forward to assisting the town and the Ad Hoc Committee in administering a new survey that is valid, reliable and objective.

The Door County Environmental Council Board of Directors