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Photo Credit: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Nintey-three percent of Wilsonville citizen survey respondents rate the city as an excellent place to raise children, while 84 percent rated the citys public places, including Murase Plaza, above, as excellent. Wilsonville residents are, for the most part, quite happy with where they live.


That’s the general consensus being take away from the results of the city’s recent 2014 National Citizen Survey, which polled residents on their satisfaction on a wide range of city services and amenities. The survey, conducted by Colorado-based National Research Center, asks residents for input on more than 100 different aspects of city governance in an effort to quantify a city’s “livability.”

And in that respect, Wilsonville comes out looking quite good.

“It’s clear from going over this data that the residents experience an exceptional quality of life,” said Damema Mann, a senior project manager with the NRC. “They’re aware of it and are very happy with city services.”

Specifically, 94 of survey respondents said quality of life in Wilsonville is either “good” or “excellent.” They also gave local police, fire and EMS services high marks and reported a strong sense of public safety. And on the flip side, a sizable number of respondents identified concerns around future growth as the biggest challenge Wilsonville faces going forward.

The NRC conducts National Citizen Surveys across America, giving the firm a large benchmarked database that allows for meaningful comparisons between cities. Mann told the Wilsonville City Council on Oct. 6 that Wilsonville really stands out in this regard. Of a total of 126 categories, 37 in Wilsonville were higher than national averages.

“That’s noteworthy and stood out to us,” Mann said.

Eighty-four categories showed similar levels of public satisfaction when compared with national averages, and just five categories in Wilsonville were lower than average.

“None of those were city services,” Mann said. “All of them had to do with participation items.”

Things in that latter category include statistics, such as the percentage of residents who contacted the city in the previous 12 months or the percentage of residents who regularly attend church services.

The National Citizen Survey is a multi-contact mail survey, conducted at random and sent to 1,200 households in Wilsonville. With 351 respondents, the survey had a 31 percent response rate. Wilsonville last conducted a NCS in 2012, giving the city benchmarks of its own to use for comparison.

In that regard, the city’s biggest improvements came in mobility, Mann said. Traffic flow, travel by car and bike, sidewalks, traffic signals all showed improvement, Mann said, and residents’ satisfaction in those areas are similar to or higher than national benchmarks. In sidewalk maintenance, for example, Wilsonville has the second highest ranking in the country for resident satisfaction. The city is sixth nationally in street cleaning and 10th in street repairs.

In public safety, city residents rated four of five categories higher than national benchmarks, while Wilsonville residents also reported using parks at a higher than average rate.

The economy was also identified as an area of importance, with 6 of 10 respondents giving the city’s economic characteristics a “good” or “excellent” rating. Wilsonville also rated higher than national averages as a place to work, in its overall economic health and for having vibrant commercial areas.

Paradoxically, respondents also say that shopping opportunities for local residents have decreased since 2012.

Councilors were pleased with both the overall tenor of the responses as well as the usefulness of the data gathered going forward.

“I really think this is great information for us to have,” said Councilor Susie Stevens. “It lets us know how people feel about where they live, and the open-ended comments are especially helpful, as well as the numbers and statistics.

“Of the 250-plus comments,” she added, “one I just loved was, ‘If everywhere was like Wilsonville it would be an amazing world.’ That really struck me.”

The survey is considered a “best practice” for municipal governance, said City Manager Bryan Cosgrove. He added that it also helps with council goal setting and strategic planning.

“Essentially what I use this for as a management tool is to measure how well we’re performing in terms of services delivered,” Cosgrove said. “We can measure this over time, and on the anecdotal side it gives council some feedback on what the community members feel is important.”

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