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Dec 16

City shares 2022 National Community Survey results

Posted on December 16, 2022 at 10:23 AM by Jessica VanderKolk

City leaders are pleased to share the results from this year’s National Community Survey, which gives neighbors a chance to share ratings and opinions on city services and Battle Creek generally.

We share the top highlights below, and the full results report is available on the city’s website. Reports from previous surveys also are available.

Stay tuned for additional information and discussions around how we will use these results in our projects and services. We appreciate every neighbor who participated! Thank you!

The city again worked with The NCS, provided by the National Research Center at Polco. While the city customized a small number of questions to seek input on particular issues, the majority of the questions remain the same, allowing us to make meaningful comparisons with our previous NCS results from 2018 and 2015.

While our goal is to ask your input on this survey every three years, the COVID-19 pandemic and other city needs delayed us from 2021 to 2022. We already have plans for the next National Community Survey in 2025.

 

Some notable, overall highlights for us this year:

  • Safety is a continued priority for our community. About 9 in 10 neighbors said the overall safety of Battle Creek should be a focus priority over the next two years. This is similar to the response in 2018, and related survey question results remain stable. 
     
     This information may help inform a current project in the city, a police/fire/EMS services study, to make sure those services best meet the needs of our community.
     
    Other safety-related highlights:
    1. About 4 in 10 neighbors gave positive ratings to the overall feeling of safety in Battle Creek.
    2. About 75% reported feeling safe in the neighborhood and commercial areas during the day.
    3. Nearly half felt very or somewhat safe from violent crime (48%) and property crime (45%)
       
  • Some aspects of our economy are on the rise, and this remains an important focus area for our community. Neighbors rated the overall health of our economy low – 17% excellent or good – and of high importance, at 91% essential or very important. We know that the COVID-19 pandemic likely had a high impact on these results.
     
    However, we saw significantly higher ratings around economic development, which speaks to the city’s and community’s great focus on attracting businesses to the city, and helping small businesses start and grow. Neighbors rated Battle Creek 51% excellent or good as a place to work – up over 10% from 2018. Neighbors rated employment opportunities (43%) and overall quality of business and service establishments (46%) about 20% higher than 2018 in both cases – a huge jump.
     
     
  • Neighbors value the ease of car travel here, but identify some opportunities for growth of related services. Survey questions around mobility in the city received similar ratings to previous years. Neighbors praised the ease of travel by car (75% excellent or good), and gave positive marks to traffic flow on major streets (60%), and ease of public parking (56%).
     
     Only about 4 in 10 neighbors were pleased with the ease of walking in the city, and the ease of travel by bike. About one-third gave positive marks to the ease of travel by public transportation and the overall quality of our transportation system. It is worth noting that 77% of neighbors said they have NOT used public transportation instead of driving in the last 12 months.
     
     Battle Creek Transit has worked hard in recent years to provide the best service to the community. Of note is that BCT continued operating through the pandemic, as other transit systems had to shut down. BCT also added the BCGo on-demand service, and increased fares for the first time in nearly 20 years, to make sure we can continue and improve operations.
     
     Neighbors might see additional polls about our transit services, so we can learn more about ways you think we can improve. Also watch for more information from BCT and other agencies around Calhoun County about the potential for a county-wide public transportation authority. We have helped study this idea, and agency leaders are having conversations with officials across the county.
     
    For street-related services, responses remain consistent since 2018, with room for improvement:
    1. Nearly half approve of snow removal services and street lighting
    2. Traffic signal timing – 42% excellent or good
    3. Traffic enforcement – 41% excellent or good
    4. Street cleaning – 36% excellent or good
    5. Street repair was the lowest-performing item in this set, at 13% excellent or good
       

We also asked some customized questions about traffic calming methods, an important issue in our neighborhoods. The overwhelming majority of neighbors (90%) report you support enhanced signage in the city. Additional traffic enforcement saw support from about 7 in 10 neighbors. Adding speed bumps (51%) and installing roundabouts (47%) received mixed reviews.

  • Not quite one-third of neighbors see excellent/good opportunities for education, culture, and the arts. Results were similar around opportunities to attend cultural/arts/music activities, and community support for the arts.
     
     
    We see an opportunity for growth here, as arts and culture is a goal important to our City Commission. A great addition to the community in recent years was the origami sculpture competition and display downtown. Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a gradual return of some of the great cultural and art events the community has been missing.
     
     This is an important goal to the community, too, with 80% saying these opportunities are essential/very important as a focus priority in the next two years.
     
  • From a communications and engagement perspective, we see a great opportunity for growth. Neighbors rated us higher than in 2018 for welcoming your involvement, but it still gives us much room for improvement at 34%. 
     
     We asked about neighbors’ sources of city information, and learned that the highest number of you (27%) don’t know how to receive city information, which prevents you from participating in our activities. You also reported in this question that local media outlets (78%) and direct mailings (85%) are a source of information for you.
     
     We plan to use this information to work on our communications to the community. To start, we are considering a direct-mailed community newsletter in 2023.
     
     

We are happy to see neighbors’ priorities in this year’s NCS match up with the priority city goals you helped us set last year in our priority-based budgeting process. More information is available at battlecreekmi.gov/pbb. As a reminder, those goals are:

  • Economy
  • Safety
  • Transportation/Mobility
  • Utilities
  • Environment/Physical Appearance/Community Design
  • Arts and Culture
  • Recreation
  • Governance

 

Survey methods

The 2022 survey was mailed to a random sample of 2,700 city addresses. About 4% of those were returned as undeliverable or vacant, leaving 2,589 households receiving the survey. Of those, 290 completed the survey, giving us a response rate of 11%.

While the number of responses is lower than 2018, the margin of error is no greater than plus or minus 6% on any given question. Statistically, this gives a 95% level of confidence in our results as representative of the Battle Creek community, and we are pleased to have meaningful information.

Later in the process, the survey was posted online for anyone to complete, and saw a response of 420, slightly higher than 2018. We left the online version open for 10 weeks and, partway through, removed the requirement for respondents to give their email address, an NCS default procedure. We heard the feedback from neighbors that you did not want to do this, so we removed it.

The survey was available in Spanish and Burmese. Instructions in these languages were on the random sample mailings, allowing neighbors to complete the survey online in their language of choice. The open, online survey also gave neighbors the option to choose one of these languages.

Three neighbors completed the Spanish translation, and five completed the Burmese translation of the survey.