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Professor finishing Shore Path study


Survey seeks information on visitors, residents use of path



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August 27, 2013 | 03:12 PM
The Lake Shore Path may seem like old news to most in the Geneva Lake area, but academics from Oshkosh are studying its use. Paul Van Auken, professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, sent postcards to residents in communities surrounding the lake earlier this summer. The study was paid for using a UW Oshkosh faculty development grant. He said he has received a large number of responses. “The respondents overwhelmingly look at the path as a major asset to the community,” Van Auken said. “The postcard was sent to a randomly selected list of addresses. As long as I can get to the minimum number of respondents, then I can say the response is a representative group.” The survey, still available online at tinyurl.com/shorepath, asks respondents questions about their use of the path and their feelings toward it. Van Auken said he’s missing one group of path users. “I’m hoping that I get more of the Chicagoland folks to fill out the survey,” he said. “I have a strong suspicion that there are quite a few of them in the Lake Geneva area.” He said he’s gotten responses from other Lake Geneva transplants from Florida and California. At the end of the survey, respondents can set up an in-person interview with Van Auken to further discuss the path. “I’ve talked to a few people so far,” he said. “The people I’ve talked to all have different experiences using the path. I hope to interview more people before I (finish).” Rick Steinberg, owner of Lake Geneva Art Supplies, spoke with Van Auken about the path. “I got the postcard about the survey in the mail,” Steinberg said. “I don’t use it every day, but I use it a lot. I walk in the mornings, I usually head out for 10 or 20 minutes and then turn around.” Steinberg said he’s interested in what Van Auken gathers from the study. “It’s neat to look at the way people use the path,” Steinberg said. Though he uses the path frequently, Steinberg hasn’t walked the entire circumference of the lake. “People are so friendly on the path,” Steinberg said. “I’ve had tourists stop out there, and we just talk. It’s just a friendly atmosphere.” Van Auken said he’s not worried about path lovers skewing his study results. “Anytime you do something like this, you get what they call self-selection bias,” he said. “You get people that are interested in it. It’s hard to convince people that aren’t interested in it to do (the survey). It’s just a fact of doing this sort of thing. You take it into account the best you can.” As classes resume at the university after Labor Day, Van Auken said the study may not be his main focus.

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