In the summer of 1996, Residents United for Greater Manayunk (RUGM) decided to undertake a survey of Manayunk households to learn how residents felt about their changing neighborhood (RUGM is a local, residents-based group, organized around issues shared by the four established civic associations in the Manayunk neighborhood). RUGM invited civic and institutional leaders to form a Survey Committee to promote the project. This Survey Committee completed an initial draft of a survey questionnaire in September 1996. In November 1996, the Survey Committee contacted the City Planning Commission for assistance in conducting what came to be known as the Opinion Survey of Manayunk Residents.

The City Planning Commission supported the survey effort as a way to augment and inform the process of preparing a comprehensive plan for the future of Manayunk. The survey would give neighborhood residents an opportunity to voice their opinions about a variety of quality of life issues, and help public and private actors focus their energies on solving community problems and make the neighborhood "work better" for its residents.

Several drafts of the survey instrument were prepared from November 1996 through February 1997 by the City Planning Commission staff and the Manayunk Survey Committee. The final version of the survey questionnaire consisted of thirty questions, many with multiple response options. Questions ranged from general ratings of Manayunk's overall quality of life to those concerning specific neighborhood problems. The survey form also included a number of questions that would permit the construction of a socio-economic profile of survey respondents.

The City Planning Commission staff designed the format of the survey form, and assumed responsibility for the cost of printing and mailing the questionnaire, as well as for tabulating and analyzing survey responses. A Manayunk Post Office Box was designated for the return of completed surveys to maintain the neighborhood-sponsored identity of the survey effort. Anticipating a community-wide mailing, the Survey Committee launched an informational campaign throughout the Manayunk community to encourage a high return rate. Three weeks before the scheduled mailing of the survey questionnaire, flyers were posted throughout the neighborhood and announcements were printed in the local community newspaper, The Review.

The Survey Committee solicited neighborhood volunteers to help prepare the questionnaire for mailing. Among these were the pastor of a local church and his staff, who folded all the survey forms and cover letters. On Saturday, March 15, 1997, fifty volunteers attended an "envelope stuffing party" at Venice Island playground in Manayunk. Participating in this four-hour envelope stuffing and sorting operation were representatives of Manayunk's civic, business, and institutional organizations; Manayunk neighbors, friends, and children; staff members of the City Planning Commission; and the District Councilman. Local restaurants generously provided refreshments for the volunteers. The event received extensive media coverage.

The survey envelopes were metered and mailed the following Monday, March 17, 1998, by the City of Philadelphia mail room. The original deadline for receiving completed questionnaires was extended from April 19th to May 1st to ensure that every household had an adequate opportunity to respond. A total of 1,624 valid responses were received from the 4,372 questionnaires delivered to postal addresses in Manayunk, a return rate of 37.1%.

Throughout the late spring and summer months of 1997, City Planning Commission staff inputted the data from the completed survey forms and conducted quality control testing. In July 1997, preliminary data from the survey responses were distributed to a broad-based Survey Steering Committee, composed of representatives of Manayunk's civic, business, and institutional organizations for their review. Subsequent transmittals of grouped and cross-tabulated data, as well as a copy of the final survey database, were provided to Steering Committee members through the end of 1997.

A draft analysis of the survey data was completed by City Planning Commission staff in February 1998, and presented to Survey and Steering Committee members for their review and comment.