Community survey shows call for street repairs [St. Joseph News-Press, Mo. :: ]
(St. Joseph News-Press (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 24--Most of the respondents to a recent survey say St. Joseph should concentrate more on improving its streets.
That was the foremost opinion released Tuesday afternoon to the Community Alliance of St. Joseph, which commissioned a livability survey of more than 1,800 randomly selected residents. More than 650 people answered the survey, which was collected over the past two months. Questionnaires were also posed in 2012 and 2010.
Almost a third of respondents said they are very dissatisfied with street maintenance. More than 40 percent identified city streets as their first choice among priorities for improvement, said Ron Vine, senior vice president with ETC Institute, an Olathe, Kan., marketing research firm.
"That's a big, big apple there," he told alliance partners gathered for his presentation at the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.
Council member Donna Jean Boyer asked Mr. Vine if the spring municipal election would have affected public perceptions on streets.
"My experience from around the country was that was a big issue," he said of streets. "This isn't going to be a quick fix for you. This isn't going to be something you're going to solve in two years. Maybe they haven't seen the improvements where they live."
Mr. Vine said he was pleased with the survey's demographics and said respondents had a positive perception of the community.
Mr. Vine said the survey found that 75 percent of respondents said they are satisfied with the quality of police and fire services. Two-thirds said would like to see additional retail establishments in St. Joseph.
The city was judged to be a good place to raise children by more than 50 percent in the survey.
But some areas need attention, Mr. Vine told alliance partners. Appearance of the city, for instance, was rated as below average by 27 percent. Quality of city services received 25 percent below average-to-poor ranking.
More than 90 percent of respondents said they chose to live in St. Joseph for its safety, security, and quality of health care. Availability of parks and recreational services and access to shopping also scored well.
For the first time, the survey asked for opinions about the St. Joseph School District. Mr. Vine, who formerly worked in city government in Topeka, Kan., said he was aware of the recent turmoil enveloping the system.
"What you have here is basically positive," he said. A "B" grade was given the district by 29 percent of respondents.
"At any time you do a survey of a community, something is going to be controversial," he added. "A perfect community? I've never seen one."
Asked if they had visited Downtown the past two years for any reason, 70 percent said they visited restaurants.
A total of 38 percent said they believe the community is moving in the right direction, contrasted by 29 percent who responded to the contrary.
Alliance director Steve Johnston said service clubs and other audiences can receive presentations on the survey. He expects that process to continue through fall. Partners received binders of the final report that contain benchmarks against the last two surveys.
"We're very blessed that our residents have responded with a high return rate," he said. "The data can almost be overwhelming....It takes a lot of time to move the needle."
The full city council will also hear about the results.
"Our plan is to have a presentation like this," said Bruce Woody, city manager.
The complete survey is available at www.newspressnow.com.
Ray Scherer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.
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