Charting a ‘more prosperous’ Nederland

Published 3:36 pm Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Community Survey results outline priorities of the people

NEDERLAND — The city’s report card is in.

Nederland City Council and City Manager Chris Duque recently reviewed the results of the 2014 Community Survey — a biennial measure of resident satisfaction with city services and overall quality of life — delivered to homes throughout the city last summer and returned to Nederland City Hall in self-addressed envelopes last fall.

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Duque said, for lack of a better word, the Community Survey acts as the city’s report card. Residents were asked to rate the community as a whole, measure overall quality of life, identify and prioritize issues in the community, rate city services and then identify what the priorities should be within each city department.

“It’s a nine-page survey that starts out very broad about the community as a whole, more of a big picture rating overall, and then gets narrower and narrower as things progress until residents are answering questions about subsets of individual departments and city services,” Duque said. “It allows us a chance to see exactly what our residents are concerned about. It gives them a space to voice any concerns they have and to provide their own ideas on how to improve issues they’ve identified.”

Duque said the city mailed 6,986 surveys last summer and received 954 completed surveys in return. Duque said the response rate — 13.7 percent — dwindled significantly from the 2012 survey response of 19.34 percent.

“The first thing we noticed about the survey was we got less back than we did the first year. We sent even more out and got even less back, so that was a little disappointing. But we were all very intrigued by the ones that did get returned, because they showed a really interesting break down by demographics.

“We separated the responses into two age groups — one most likely to still have children in their home, the under 50 group, and one most likely to not have children in their home, the over 50 group. And there were some times they said things differently based on those experiences.”

Duque said one example of a difference in opinion based on age came in the two groups’ “top priorities.” When asked what the city’s top priorities should be, both groups agreed police and fire belonged in the Top 2 spots, respectively. Duque said the groups were fairly consistent in their Top 3 choice with the under 50 group selecting maintenance of infrastructure and the over 50 group selecting storm drainage.

“But the No. 4 choice threw us for a loop, and we actually went back and double-checked because we couldn’t figure out what happened,” Duque said. “The over 50 group said No. 4 should be storm drainage, again, and the under 50 group said the No. 4 priority should be parks and recreation.

“We were like, ‘Why are they saying police, fire, maintenance of infrastructure and then making this giant leap to parks and rec?’ Because they’re younger, and they’re more likely to have children — the parks system is a critical factor to their quality of life in the city. So some of these questions give us that kind of insight.”

Another drastic difference between age groups came in how they get their city information, Duque said. When asked what medium they receive their public information in, the over 50 group ranked television, word of mouth and newspapers as their Top 3 news sources.

“Meanwhile the under 50 group ranked word of mouth, social media and TV as their Top 3 mediums for information — to me, that shows how critical our online presence is to informing our residents about city events and city services,” Duque said. “Since the 2012 survey, we’ve created four city Facebook pages — one for the city itself, one for parks and recreation, one for animal control and one for the library. I think we’re reaching a lot of people with stuff, but we’ll keep on trying harder to get all this information out.”

Duque said city services, overall, were rated favorably as did quality of life. Nearly three-fourths of the returned surveys — 73.4 percent — rated quality of life in Nederland as “excellent” or “good,” and 90.3 percent of the surveys indicated Nederland is an “excellent” or “good” place to live.

The city also ranked high professionally with 65.6 percent of the surveys reporting Nederland as an “excellent” or “good” place to do business and 61.1 percent of the surveys reporting Nederland as an “excellent” or “good” place to work.

To view the survey results presented to City Council, visit the city website or “The City of Nederland, Texas” on Facebook.

Twitter: @crhenderson90