The results of the city survey of residents sent in city water bills are out.
Whether the survey accurately reflects the views of city residents on city issues is up for the reader to decide.
The survey ranked city services as well as attitudes about various issues affecting the city.
The best-rated city services, according to the survey, were the Fire Department, Public Library, Senior Center and Police Department. The lowest-rated city services were administration, planning and codes, and water and sewer, all of which ranked “just a little short of average or good,” according to BEST, which administered the survey.
The survey was returned by 279 of the 3,000 recipients, about 9 percent. Of those who responded, 79 percent said they had lived in Platteville for more than 10 years.
The first number makes Platteville Common Council President Mike Dalecki ask how accurate the survey is.
“If you don’t have a good sample, you don’t know what the people think,” said Dalecki, who teaches surveys as a professor of sociology at UW–Platteville. “You get people from both sides of the poles. It’s the group who have a specific concern that will respond one way or another.
“I’d step back and ask what do you want to know? I think what Larry [Bierke, the city manager] is trying to do is get a handle on what people are feeling.”
Dalecki teaches that 50-percent returns on surveys are “the absolute bare minimum, 60 percent is good, and 70 percent is Nirvana.”
When asked opinions about their safety compared with a year ago, 55 percent said they felt as safe, 20 percent felt less safe, and 17 percent felt more safe. When asked if they could walk safely in their neighborhood, 84 percent agreed, and 6 percent disagreed.
When asked whether they agreed or not with the statement “My neighborhood is clean and welcoming,” 75 percent agreed, and 15 percent disagreed. When asked whether they agreed or not with the statement “My neighborhood has a sense of community,” 59 percent agreed and 21 percent disagreed. When asked whether they believed Platteville is developing in a “healthy and safe manner,” 45 percent agreed and 31 percent disagreed.
When asked if they would shop locally more often if more retailers were available, 67 percent agreed and 9 percent disagreed. When asked if they valued downtown for “its appearance and significance,” 56 percent agreed and 23 percent disagreed. When asked if they valued downtown for its shopping opportunities, 37 percent agreed and 38 percent disagreed.
Comments about what people like about Platteville included “everything is really close by and convenient to get to,” lack of heavy traffic, friendly people, size, small-town atmosphere, UW–Platteville and the schools, “it has always been a safe place to live and raise children,” its history, the parks and Aquatic Center, “opportunities that are available,” and the “police department and dispatch.”
When asked what respondents would like Platteville to be known for, answers included “friendly and clean neighborhoods,” safety, “citywide Internet access at no charge to homeowners,” Main Street, hospitality, “more than just a college town with pizza parlors and bars,” “a safe and progressive community that is something more than UWP,” and “activity center of Grant County.”
Platteville’s biggest challenges were identified as “more salary so younger kids will stay,” “employment,” “positive growth with a positive connection with the whole community of Platteville,” and “Platteville seems to have forgotten about the people who make this our home and worry too much about what can be done for the university.”
The survey results by city department; the responses that don’t add up to 100 percent are No Opinion or No Response:
Administration: 23 percent Average, 20 percent Good, 14 percent Unacceptable, 11 percent Poor, 9 percent Excellent.
Fire Department — overall: 60 percent Excellent, 21 percent Good, 4 percent Average, 2 percent Unacceptable.
Fire Department — response time: 51 percent Excellent, 16 percent Good, 1 percent Average, 1 percent Unacceptable.
Fire Department — firefighting: 53 percent Excellent, 16 percent Good, 1 percent Average, 1 percent Unacceptable.
Fire Department — fire inspection: 38 percent Excellent, 15 percent Good, 6 percent Average, 2 percent Poor, 2 percent Unacceptable.
Fire Department — public education: 33 percent Excellent, 19 percent Good, 10 percent Average, 2 percent Poor, 1 percent Unacceptable.
Fire Department — other calls: 30 percent Excellent, 11 percent Good, 3 percent Average, 1 percent Poor, 1 percent Unacceptable.
Parks: 36 percent Excellent, 32 percent Good, 13 percent Average, 5 percent Poor; 1 percent Unacceptable.
Planning and codes: 25 percent Average, 17 percent Good, 13 percent Poor, 11 percent Unacceptable, 6 percent Excellent.
Police Department — overall: 39 percent Excellent, 31 percent Good, 15 percent Average, 4 percent Poor, 2 percent Unacceptable.
Police Department — compared to similar-size communities: 42 percent Equal to, 30 percent Better than, 11 percent Not as Good as.
Specific police-related concerns were led by parking issues, followed by noise disturbances, vandalism, underage drinking, burglary and theft, drugs, traffic enforcement, and animal control.
Public Library: 35 percent Excellent, 29 percent Good, 8 percent Average, 3 percent Poor, 1 percent Unacceptable.
Public Works — overall: 29 percent Good, 25 percent Excellent, 21 percent Average, 5 percent Poor, 4 percent Unacceptable.
Public Works — airport: 7 percent Good, 7 percent Average, 5 percent Excellent, 3 percent Unacceptable (73 percent No Opinion).
Public Works — cemeteries: 26 percent Good; 17 percent Excellent, 10 percent Average, 2 percent Unacceptable, 1 percent Poor.
Public Works — park maintenance: 41 percent Good, 26 percent Excellent, 15 percent Average, 4 percent Poor, 1 percent Unacceptable.
Public Works — sidewalk conditions: 36 percent Average, 27 percent Good, 10 percent Poor, 10 percent Unacceptable, 7 percent Excellent.
Public Works — snow removal: 31 percent Good, 24 percent Excellent, 21 percent Average, 11 percent Unacceptable, 9 percent Poor.
Public Works — street conditions: 29 percent Average, 21 percent Unacceptable, 19 percent Poor, 18 percent Good, 8 percent Excellent.
Public Works — street maintenance: 29 percent Average, 23 percent Good, 13 percent Poor, 11 percent Excellent.
Public Works — water and sewer compared with cities of similar size: 40 percent Equal to, 15 percent Better Than, 15 percent Not As Good.
Senior Center: 16 percent Excellent, 10 percent Good, 8 percent Average, 1 percent Poor (57 percent No Opinion).
Water and Sewer: 31 percent Good, 23 percent Excellent, 17 percent Average, 8 percent Unacceptable, 7 percent Poor.
The survey asked where city government should place priorities:
Create new jobs and attract new businesses and industries: 70 percent Now, 11 percent 3–5 years, 3 percent 5+ years, 5 percent Not a Priority.
Maintain existing utility infrastructure: 50 percent Now, 25 percent 3–5 years, 6 percent 5+ years, 6 percent Not a Priority.
Increase opportunity for citizens to interact with city leadership: 42 percent Now, 15 percent 3–5 years, 5 percent 5+ years, 24 percent Not a Priority.
Repair existing and construct new sidewalks: 30 percent 3–5 years, 29 percent Now, 11 percent 5+ years, 17 percent Not a Priority.
The survey also asked questions about platteville.org, the city’s website. Of the 47 percent who said they had visited the website, 42 percent found it “somewhat” helpful, 32 percent found it “average,” 20 percent found it “not very” helpful, and 6 percent found it “very” helpful.
When asked how respondents gain information about the city, 75 percent said the newspaper, 52 percent said friends or family, 41 percent said the radio, 24 percent said city channels 5 and 36, 12 percent said social media, and 11 percent said the website.