Survey: Albert Leans like Albert Lea

Published 9:35 am Thursday, May 31, 2012

More than half of Albert Lea residents questioned in a national survey said they are pleased with the quality of life in the city, according to results of the survey released this week.

The National Citizen Survey states 57 percent of residents rated the city as “good” or “excellent” for overall quality of life, and about 81 percent of people plan to stay here for at least the next five years.

The survey, completed in April, explored multiple characteristics of the community, including civic engagement, trust in local government and interactment with city employees, among others.

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Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said the city staff and the Albert Lea City Council hoped the survey would identify both strengths and weaknesses of the community.

He said he, city staff and the Albert Lea City Council will be discussing the results, figure out why people have responded the ways they did and then decide where the community wants to go based off of the survey and other strategic planning.

“We know what the results are, but we’re going to be talking about why things are this way,” Adams said.

Of the characteristics of the community that were evaluated, residents gave most favorable ratings to:

• Availability of paths and walking trails.

• Ease of walking.

• Opportunities to participate in religious or spiritual events.

• Air quality.

Adams said these responses correlated with the work the city has done in the last few years to improve vitality.

The three characteristics receiving the least positive ratings were employment opportunities, shopping opportunities and overall quality of new development.

Street repair and maintenance and traffic signal timing were also identified as areas needing strengthening.

Of the residents interviewed, only 29 percent had attended a meeting of local elected officials or a local public meeting in the previous 12 months; however, 95 percent had helped a friend or neighbor.

Residents demonstrated a mild trust of local government and a majority indicated they thought population growth was either “somewhat too slow,” or “much too slow.”

The results were compared to a benchmark database.

Adams said while it is good to know how the city ranks, people also need to remember that some of the surveys in other communities were sent out as much as five years ago.

In Albert Lea, the survey was sent out to 1,200 households. Out of that number, 41 percent — or 465 households — returned it.

Adams said he was pleased with the response rate, as most other communities only have response rates in the 20th percentile.

“I commend the community for wanting to be engaged,” he said. “This shows the community wants to be involved in the decision-making process.”

It also correlates with the community’s high voter turnout.

Adams said he is available to make presentations about the results for local groups.

The survey is also available for viewing on or at the Albert Lea Public Library.

To contact the city manager, people can call 377-4330.

The National Citizen Survey is sponsored by the International City/County Management Association in cooperation with National Research Center Inc.